Michael Wolter and the Publication of The Gospel According to Luke – Volume I

As a way of celebrating the publication of this year’s BMSEC volume, The Gospel According to Luke – Volume I (1-9:50), which I have co-translated with Christoph Heilig, today’s “German scholars post” is devoted to Michael Wolter (Eng), Professor of New Testament at the Faculty of Protestant Theology at the University of Bonn in Germany and Honorary Professor at the Theological Faculty at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

As usual, the post will consist of 1) key excerpts from the book selected by Michael Wolter and 2) some biographical-bibliographical information about Michael Wolter.

Excerpts (alternating between the English and the German)

29: Luke writes his work with the knowledge that Christianity had been a supralocal entity spread throughout the entire Roman empire for many decades already. According to the witness of Acts, there are Christian communities not only in the eastern provinces of the imperium Romanum—i.e., not only in Syria and in Cilicia, in Galatia and in Asia, in Macedonia and in Achaia—but also in Italy and in Rome itself.

25: Lukas schreibt sein Werk im Wissen darum, dass das Christentum bereits seit vielen Jahrzehnten eine über das gesamte römische Reich verteilte überlokale Größe ist. Nach dem Zeugnis der Apostelgeschichte gibt es christliche Gemeinden nicht nur in den östlichen Provinzen des Imperium Romanum – d.h. nicht nur in Syrien und in Kilikien, in Galatien und in der Asia, in Mazedonien und in Achaia –, sondern auch in Italien und in Rom selbst.

29: It would certainly be completely inappropriate if one wanted to keep this knowledge away from the Lukan story of Jesus and restrict the horizon of its author to the boundaries of a single local Christian community. Beyond this, however, this circumstance makes it also very probable that the Gospel of Luke was written not only in the knowledge that there were Christian communities everywhere in the Roman provinces, but also that in the view of its author its content was also relevant to every single (Bauckham 1998, 1: “any and every”) one of these communities.

25: Es wäre mit Sicherheit ganz unsachgemäß, wenn man dieses Wissen von der lk Jesusgeschichte fernhalten und den Horizont ihres Verfassers auf die Grenzen einer einzigen christlichen Ortsgemeinde beschränken wollte. Dieser Sachverhalt macht es darüber hinaus aber auch sehr wahrscheinlich, dass das LkEv nicht nur im Wissen darum geschrieben wurde, dass es christliche Gemeinden überall in den römischen Provinzen gibt, sondern dass sein Inhalt nach der Meinung seines Verfassers auch für jede einzelne (Bauckham* 1: „any and every”) dieser Gemeinden theologisch relevant ist.

30: Finally, one can possibly even reckon with the fact that Luke imagined this readership not only as a synchronic entity but also as a diachronic entity. His narrative would then be intended not only for the Christians of his own time but also for Christians of future generations.

25: Und schließlich ist es möglicherweise sogar damit zu rechnen, dass Lukas sich diese Leserschaft nicht nur als eine synchrone, sondern auch als eine diachrone Größe vorgestellt hat. Seine Erzählung wäre demnach nicht nur für die Christen seiner eigenen Zeit, sondern auch für die Christen zukünftiger Generationen bestimmt.

30: That history writing could be guided by such a perspective is already recognizable in Thucydides, who composed his history of the Peloponnesian War “more as an enduring possession than as a masterpiece for current hearers” (… 1.22.4). …

25-26: Dass Geschichtsschreibung von einer solchen Perspektive geleitet sein kann, wird bereits bei Thucydides erkennbar, der seine Geschichte des Pelo-ponnesischen Krieges „eher zum bleibenden Besitz, denn als Meisterstück zum aktuellen Hören“ verfasst hat (…1,22,4). …

30: This does not mean, however, that with this expansion the picture of the intended readers becomes more diffuse, for with the Christian community of the Lukan present, Christian posterity enduringly shares the same characteristic feature that constitutes the identity of all intended readers, namely the foundation story of Christianity that Luke narrates in his “report.” For this story is also their story. …

26: Mit dieser Ausweitung wird das Bild der intendierten Leser durchaus nicht diffuser, denn mit den christlichen Gemeinden der lk Gegenwart teilt die christli-che Nachwelt bleibend ein und dasselbe Merkmal, das die Identität aller intendier-ten Leser konstituiert: die Basisgeschichte des Christentums, die Lukas in seinem Doppelwerk erzählt. Denn diese Geschichte ist auch ihre Geschichte. …

30-31: The Gospel of Luke is the first part of a two-part historical work that narrates an epoch of the history of Israel and thus belongs to the historical genre of “epoch histories” …

26: Das Lukasevangelium ist der erste Teil eines zweiteiligen Geschichtswerks, das eine Epoche aus der Geschichte Israels erzählt und damit zur historiographischen Gattung der „Epochengeschichten“ gehört …

32: Luke sees the special profile of this epoch, which makes the narrated time period into an epoch in the first place, as consisting in the fact that the sending of God’s eschatic salvation (σωτήριον; Luke 2.30; 3.6; Acts 28.28)—a sending that first took place through Jesus himself and then through his witnesses—was rejected by most of the Jews.

28: Das besondere Profil dieser Epoche, das den erzählten Zeitraum allererst zu einer Epoche macht, sieht Lukas darin bestehen, dass die Sendung von Gottes eschatischem Heil (σωτήριον; Lk 2,30; 3,6; Apg 28,28), die erst durch Jesus selbst und dann durch dessen Zeugen erfolgte, von den meisten Juden abgewiesen wurde.

32: Because, in contrast to this, the salvation of God was received by far more non-Jews, Luke can have Paul say with his last words in Acts 28.28: “And they will listen!” (αὐτοὶ καὶ ἀκούσονται…). …

29: Weil das Heil Gottes demgegenüber von sehr viel mehr Nichtjuden angenommen wurde, kann Lukas seinen Paulus darum mit dessen letztem Wort in Apg 28,28 sagen lassen: „Sie sind es, die auch hören werden!“ (αὐτοὶ καὶ ἀκούσονται …) …

33-34: The fulfillment of the promises for Israel therefore led to a separation process, which had as a consequence the fact that “Israel” received a quite peculiar form in the Lukan time. On the one hand, Luke views the Christian church as standing in the unbroken continuity of the history of the people of God Israel, for it now includes also the Jewish and non-Jewish Χριστιανοί, who were called this for the first time in Antioch according to Acts 11.26. The Χριστιανοί are all those believe that the promises of salvation given to the people of God are fulfilled in the sending and in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (e.g. Acts 13.32-39; 23.6; 26.6-8). According to the Lukan understanding, the history of Israel finds its continuation in the history of the church. On the other hand, those Jews who deny the Christ proclamation also continue, of course, to belong to Israel…

Die Erfüllung der Verheißungen für Israel mündete darum in einen Trennungsprozess, der zur Folge hatte, dass „Israel“ in lukanischer Zeit eine recht merkwürdige Gestalt bekommen hat: Zum einen sieht Lukas die christliche Kirche in der ungebrochenen Kontinuität der Geschichte des Gottesvolks Israel stehen, denn ihm gehören nun auch die nach Apg 11,26 erstmals in Antiochien so genannten jüdi-schen und nichtjüdischen Χριστιανοί an. Hierbei handelt es sich um all diejenigen, die glauben, dass die dem Gottesvolk geltenden Heilsverheißungen in der Sen-dung und in der Auferstehung Jesu von den Toten erfüllt sind (z.B. Apg 13,32–39; 23,6; 26,6–8). Nach lk Verständnis setzt sich die Geschichte Israels in der Geschichte der Kirche fort. Zum anderen gehören für Lukas natürlich auch weiter-hin diejenigen Juden zu Israel, die sich der Christusverkündigung versagen.

* For the Front Matter of Wolter’s commentary and existing reviews, see here. For Christoph Heilig’s post on this book at the Zürich New Testament blog, see here. For my other blog posts on this book, see here.

II. Biographical-bibliographical information

In this section I will provide two types of biographical-bibliographical information about Michael Wolter. First, I will translate a section (which I have selected) from Wolter’s chapter in Eve-Marie Becker‘s wonderful edited volume Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft. Autobiographical Essays aus der Evangelischen Theologie. Secondly, I will include some further information about Wolter’s biography and research (which he sent to me).

Excerpt from Neutestamentliche WissenschaftIn the years of the building and form-finding of a scholarly existence of my own I did not, to be sure, succeed in finding what characterizes many theological biographies: the lasting connection to a specific teacher or an embedding in the context of a certain school. This is especially recognizable in the fact that I— apart from the three years in which I was away with Klaus Berger in Heidelberg—gained two academic “fathers” with scholarly approaches to the theology that were separated by a rather great theological and methodological distance. My Heidelberg Doktorvater Erich Dinkler came out of the Marburg of Rudolf Bultmann, and, accordingly, he primarily made me familiar with the kerygma-theological program of demythologizing and existential interpretation. Very different my Habilitationsvater Otto Böcher. With him I learned that the mythical form of religious orientation of existence is not simply something that one has to interpret existentially in order to be able to begin something with it theologically but that it can and must be taken seriously theologically precisely also in its material objectification. Without any reservation both refrained from orienting their student to their own theological coordination system and to this day I remain deeply thankful to them for this.

Further Biographical-Bibliographical Information: Born 1950 in Hannover, Michael Wolter studied Protestant Theology in Berlin, Heidelberg, and Göttingen. He qualified in 1977 as Dr. theol. and worked from 1977 through 1983 as the editor of the “Theologische Realenzyklopädie” (TRE) at de Gruyter in Berlin. From 1983 through 1988 he was research assistant at the University of Mainz and attained there his habilitation in 1986. He taught Biblical Theology at the Universities of Aachen (1988) and Bayreuth (1988–1993) and New Testament at the University of Bonn (1993–2016). Since March 2016 he has been retired.

Michael Wolter is Honorary Professor at the University of Pretoria and Extraodinary Professor at the Southwest University in Potchefstroom (South Africa). He is a member of the North-Rhine-Westfalia Academy of Sciences and Humanities. 2002–2004 he served as president of the Colloquium Oecumenicum Paulinum, and presently he is president elect of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas (SNTS).

He was awarded the Hanns-Lilje-Prize by the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities in 1988, and in 2016 he received a honorary doctorate from the University of Athens.

Michael Wolter loves writing commentaries on New Testament writings. He has published commentaries on

Colossians and Philemon:

Der Brief an die Kolosser. Der Brief an Philemon (ÖTK 12), Gütersloh/Würzburg 1993

the Gospel of Luke:

Das Lukasevangelium (HNT 5), Tübingen 2008 (engl. trans. by Wayne Coppins and Christoph Heilig, Waco 2106/2017)

and Romans:

Der Brief an die Römer. Teilband I: Röm 1–8 (EKK 6/1), Neukirchen-Vluyn 2014

The second volume will be published in 2018.

Books on other topics include:

Rechtfertigung und zukünftiges Heil. Untersuchungen zu Röm 5,1-11 (BZNW 43), Berlin/New York 1978

Aus dem Archiv des Verlages Walter de Gruyter. Briefe – Urkunden – Dokumente, Berlin/New York 1980 [together with Doris Fouquet-Plümacher]

Theologie und Kirche im Wirken Hans von Sodens. Briefe und Dokumente aus der Zeit des Kirchenkampfes 1933–1945 (AKZ 2/2), Göttingen 1984 21986

Die Pastoralbriefe als Paulustradition (FRLANT 146), Göttingen 1988

5. Esra-Buch / 6. Esra-Buch (JSHRZ III/7), Gütersloh 2001 (translation and commentary)

Paulus. Ein Grundriss seiner Theologie, Neukirchen-Vluyn 2011 22015 (engl. trans. by R.M. Brawley, Waco 2015)

***

For a complete list of my blog posts, please see here.

For interviews with me on my work, see here.

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! I hope to be able to write at least one Monday blog post each month. Best, Wayne

 

2 thoughts on “Michael Wolter and the Publication of The Gospel According to Luke – Volume I

  1. Pingback: Friederike Kunath and Preexistence in John (A German Scholars Post) | German for Neutestamentler

  2. Pingback: Differing Doubts About the Authorship of Luke-Acts: Schröter and Wolter | German for Neutestamentler

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