Jens Schröter and the Publication of Jesus of Nazareth – Jew from Galilee, Savior of the World

As a way of celebrating the imminent publication of Jesus of Nazareth – Jew from Galilee, Savior of the World, today’s “German scholars” post is devoted to Jens Schröter, Professor of Exegesis and Theology of the New Testament and Ancient Christian Apocrypha at the Humboldt University of Berlin. For my other posts on this book, see here.

The category “German scholars” seeks to introduce German scholars and their research to the English-speaking world. Each post consists of (I) my translation of a short passage from a publication submitted by the German author her/himself and (II) some biographical-bibliographical information about the scholar in question. For further information on this category, see here. For my other “German scholars” posts, see here.

Prof. Schröter’s passage of choice comes from the original German version of Jesus of Nazareth, namely Jesus von Nazareth: Jude aus Galiläa – Retter der Welt, which Evangelische Verlagsanstalt has published in the attractive series Biblische Gestalten. It is now in its fourth edition.

As usual I will begin with the English translation so that the selective grammatical commentary can directly follow the German version.

I. Translation

Jesus of Nazareth (trans. W. Coppins and S. B. Pounds: p. 17): Jesus research since the second half of the eighteenth century has created important methodological and thematic presuppositions for an engagement with Jesus under the conditions of the modern historical-critical consciousness. It moves in the tension between historical reconstruction, which wants to know how it “really” was, and post-Easter construction, which regards this aim as unreachable and orients itself instead to the post-Easter faith witnesses. In both options we are dealing with radical solutions that are inadequate if taken on their own. Together, however, they give modern Jesus research a dynamic that shows itself to be extremely fruitful: the engagement with the sources presents a picture of the past that as a product of the present always remains, however, changeable, fallible, and incomplete. Therefore, historical research can never ground the Christian faith let alone prove its correctness. It can, however, show that this faith is founded on the activity and fate of a person, who can still be portrayed today, if not in every detail, then at least in important facets. In this way it makes a substantial contribution to the task of taking intellectual and ethical responsibility for the Christian faith in the modern world.

Jesus von Nazareth (p. 36): Die Jesusforschung seit der zweiten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts hat wichtige methodische und inhaltliche Voraussetzungen für eine Beschäftigung mit Jesus unter den Bedingungen des neuzeitlichen historisch-kritischen Bewusstseins geschaffen. Sie bewegt sich dabei in der Spannung von historischer Rekonstruktion, die wissen will, wie es „wirklich“ war, und nachösterlicher Konstruktion, die dies für unerreichbar hält und sich stattdessen an den nachösterlichen Glaubenszeugnissen orientiert. Bei beiden Optionen handelt es sich um Radikallösungen, die für sich genommen unzureichend sind. Gemeinsam verleihen sie der neuzeitlichen Jesusforschung jedoch eine Dynamik, die sich als äußerst fruchtbar erweist: Die Beschäftigung mit den Quellen stellt ein Bild der Vergangenheit vor Augen, das als Produkt der Gegenwart jedoch immer veränderlich, fehlbar und unvollständig bleibt. Historische Jesusforschung kann deshalb den christlichen Glauben niemals begründen oder gar seine Richtigkeit beweisen. Sie kann jedoch zeigen, dass dieser Glaube auf dem Wirken und Geschick einer Person gründet, das sich, wenn auch nicht in jedem Detail, so jedoch in wichtigen Facetten auch heute noch nachzeichnen lässt. Damit leistet sie für die Verantwortung des christlichen Glaubens in der modernen Welt einen substantiellen Beitrag.

Selective grammatical analysis: seit is always difficult. “since” is a bit awkward but “from” is not always clear; instead of using “since”, I sometimes use “from … on” or “starting in”. I often translate Beschäftigung with “engagement”, though sometimes with occupation or the like. In sentence 4, we left dabei untranslated, but I sometimes attempt to convey it with “thereby”, “here”, “in the process” or “in doing so”, depending on the context. oder gar (sentence 4) has the force of “let alone” in English. nachzeichen has the force of “trace after” but “portray” is probably preferable for the sake of readability. We seem to have translated Verantwortung rather freely as “the task of taking intellectual and ethical responsibility”, presumably in correspondence with Prof. Schröter.

Bibliographical-Biographical Information

For more on Prof. Schröter’s research interests, projects, and publications, see his university webpage here.

For an up-to-date list of his English publications, see here.

From the very beginning of my studies on early Christianity and the New Testament I have been intrigued by the question of how the movement that started with Jesus and Paul quickly became an influential religion within the Roman Empire. My research began with an investigation of Paul’s self-understanding as a messenger of God and Jesus Christ who established lively relationships between “his” communities and God by bringing to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In a next step I turned to the earliest layers of the Jesus tradition. In this context the problem of “re-construction” of history came into my focus. For many years now I have been engaged with the methodological and epistemological questions of the relationship of the life and message of Jesus to its reception in earliest Christianity and with an approach to the past under the circumstances of the historical-critical consciousness.

Another area of my research is devoted to the Acts of the Apostles and the history of early Christianity. Here the problem of the relationship of the events of the past and their interpretation by the historians occurs again. My approach can be characterized as an attempt to understand Luke as “the first Christian historian” within the context of ancient Jewish and Hellenistic-Roman historiography and to elaborate the meaning of his historical narrative for a history of Christianity today.

Finally, I am also interested in the relationship of so-called “canonical” and “apocryphal” Christian writings and the emergence of the New Testament canon. Together with my colleague Christoph Markschies I am editing the “Ancient Christian Apocrypha” in fresh German translations and with new introductions. My specific viewpoint is directed towards the development of Christianity in the first two centuries as a multifaceted phenomenon, documented in a wide range of writings. I am convinced that it is important for Christianity to reflect on these beginnings even today.

For my other blog posts on Jens Schröter, see here .

For Schröter posts focused specifically on historiography, see here.

Facebook Page: To receive notifications of future blog posts, please subscribe to this blog and/or like my facebook page here.

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

For tips on how to use this blog, please see here.

For two interviews with me about the BMSEC series, see Clifford Kvidahl and Michael Hölscher.

German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! In an effort to provide a sense of regularity and predictability for this blog’s readership, I plan on writing a new post each Monday. So hopefully I will ‘see’ you again in a week’s time. Best, Wayne.

Benjamin Schliesser on the Cosmic Interpretation of pistis in Gal 3.23, 25

This post falls under one of my favorite categories on this blog, namely “German scholars”. The purpose of this category is to introduce German scholars and their research to the English-speaking world. Each post will consist of (I) my translation of a short passage from a publication submitted by the German author her/himself and (II) some biographical-bibliographical information about the scholar in question. For further information on this category, see here. For my other “German scholars” posts, see here.

Today’s “German scholar” is Dr. Benjamin Schliesser of the University of Zürich. His chosen excerpt, which comes from his 2011 book Was ist Glaube? Paulinische Perspektiven, suggests, in the context of debates about the interpretation of pistis Christou, that pistis should be understood in a comprehensive “cosmic” sense in Gal 3.23, 25, a viewpoint that has been developed previously by Ernst Lohmeyer and one that is discussed as a “third” view in the second edition of Udo Schnelle’s book on Paul (Paulus. Leben und Denken. 2nd Edition. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2014, p. 572).

As usual I will begin with the English translation so that the selective grammatical commentary can directly follow the German version.

I. Translation

English Translation (wmc): Paul evidently understands pistis here [in Gal 3.23, 25] as a powerful eschatological event that marks a turn of the times and opposes the supremacy of the law that was  previously in force in order to supplant this once and for all. Faith and Law come upon the stage as personified entities at a certain point in time of the salvation-historical drama. They possess a cosmic dimension that determines the reality as a whole and yet simultaneously a personal dimension that determines the entire person. Through the revelation of faith God has radically transformed the reality of the world and placed it under a new light. From this results the designations with which pistis has been understood [in scholarship]: “eschatological event of salvation” (F. Neugebauer), “divine event-reality”, “transubjective entity” (H. Binder), or “transindividual overall phenomenon” (P. Stuhlmacher).

Was ist Glaube (p. 36): Offensichtlich versteht Paulus die pistis hier [in Gal 3,23.25] als machtvolles eschatologisches Geschehen, das eine Zeitenwende markiert und der bis dato geltenden Vormachtstellung des Gesetzes entgegentritt, um dieses ein für alle Mal abzulösen. Glaube und Gesetz treten als personifizierte Größen zu einem bestimmten Zeitpunkt des heilsgeschichtlichen Dramas auf die Bühne. Ihnen ist eine kosmische Dimension eigen, die die Wirklichkeit als Ganze bestimmt, zugleich aber eine personale Dimension, die den ganzen Menschen bestimmt. Durch die Offenbarung des Glaubens hat Gott die Weltwirklichkeit radikal verwandelt und unter ein neues Licht gestellt. Daraus ergeben sich die Bezeichnungen, mit denen die pistis [in der Forschung] versehen wurde: «eschatologisches Heilsereignis» (F. Neugebauer), «göttliche Geschehenswirklichkeit», «transsubjektive Größe» (H. Binder) oder «überindividuelles Gesamtphänomen» (P. Stuhlmacher).

Selective grammatical analysis: For me it is often difficult to decide whether to translate offensichtlich as “apparently” or as “evidently”. I have chosen the latter, which implies a somewhat stronger claim. Previously I had never encountered the phrase bis dato, which appears to have the force of “hitherto”, “previously” or “to date”. The translation of gelten is often tricky; solutions I have adopted include “in force”, “in effect”, and “valid”. For the translation of ablösen I opted for “supplant” rather than “replace” or “supersede”. Rather that using the phrase “come onto the scene” I decided to retain the literal force of treten … auf der Bühne and translate the phrase as “come upon the stage”. Ihnen … eigen is not easy, but I think that “they possess (or they have)” captures the general sense. I often translate bestimmen as “specifies” but “determines” seemed better here. The strong verb “transformed” seemed to better capture the sense of verwandelt than “changed”. Daraus ergeben sich could be translated as “from this arises/results” or perhaps more freely as “This gives rise to…”. For eschatologisches Heilsereignis I waffled between “eschatological salvation event”, “eschatological event of salvation” and “eschatological salvific event”. It is hard to capture Geschehenswirklichkeit, and there is presumably a better solution than “event reality”.

II. Biographical-Bibliographical Information

Before coming to the University of Zürich, Benjamin Schliesser studied Protestant theology in Tübingen (Germany), Glasgow (Scotland), and Pasadena (USA). He completed his PhD in 2006 with a dissertation on the Pauline understanding of faith (see here). He has been Oberassistent (Senior Research Assistant) for Prof. Jörg Frey since 2010 and, in addition, for Prof. Samuel Vollenweider since 2011. He is currently working toward the completion of his habilitation on the “phenomenon of doubt in early Christianity”.
A selection of his most important publications can be found at his University of Zürich homepage (see here). Readers will also want to consult his academia.edu page, which contains some of his research, including a valuable article on recent Theologies of Paul (Becker, Dunn, Schnelle, Wolter).

Facebook Page: To receive notifications of future blog posts, please subscribe to this blog and/or like my facebook page here.

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

For tips on how to use this blog, please see here.

For two interviews with me about the Baylor-Mohr Siebeck Series, see Clifford Kvidahl and Michael Hölscher.

German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! In an effort to provide a sense of regularity and predictability for this blog’s readership, I plan on writing a new post each Monday. So hopefully I will ‘see’ you again in a week’s time. Best, Wayne.

Oda Wischmeyer and the Lexikon der Bibelhermeneutik

This post falls under one of my favorite categories on this blog, namely “German scholars”. The purpose of this category is to introduce German scholars and their research to the English-speaking world. Each post will consist of (I) my translation of a short passage from a publication submitted by the German author her/himself and (II) some biographical-bibliographical information about the scholar in question. For further information on this category, see here. For my other “German scholars” posts, see here.

Today’s “German scholar” is Prof. Dr. Oda Wischmeyer (em.) of the Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, an institution that holds a special place in my heart as my first university home during my studies in Germany. Insofar as this blog and the BMSEC series both aim to facilitate increased dialogue between English-language and German-language scholarship, I would like to underline here the extent to which Prof. Wischmeyer’s scholarship has contributed to this aim, for example through the English translation of her edited volume Paul: Life, Setting, Work, Letters, which I mentioned in my last post, and now through her 2014 co-edited volume Paul and Mark (cf. Jim West’s Review), which brings together the work of about twelve German-speaking scholars and twelve English-speaking scholars who deal with the question of the influence of Paul on Mark.

As her passage of choice for this post, Prof. Wischmeyer has submitted an excerpt from the Lexikon der Bibelhermeneutik. Edited by Oda Wischmeyer. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2013, p. VI.

As usual I will begin with the English translation so that the selective grammatical commentary can directly follow the German version.

I) Translation

English Translation (wmc): “The text-oriented hermeneutic of the Bible represents a new hermeneutic paradigm in which the canonical version of the Bible is not primarily understood in a theologically internal manner as ‘gospel’ and ‘Holy Scripture’ and thereby largely hermeneutically and methodologically withdrawn from the non-theological text-oriented disciplines. Rather, the hermeneutical approach [of the Lexikon] is already in its basic approach heuristic and multiperspectival and does not follow an already existing conception. The leading theological-hermeneutical terms ‘gospel’, ‘word of God’, ‘Holy Scripture’, and ‘revelation’ stand alongside terms that belong to the humanities and the study of culture   [or: to the human sciences and cultural sciences] in the broadest sense such as ‘canon’, ‘holy book’, ‘text’, ‘supertext’, and ‘reception’. The term/concept of text is chosen as an integrating guiding term/concept to which both the theological disciplines and the humanities and cultural disciplines have genuine methodological and hermeneutical points of access and to which they can make their own contribution. The Bible is understood as a collection of different texts that together form a supertext. All present-day text-elucidating scholarly [or scientific] disciplines with their theories, methods, conceptions, and terms/concepts are drawn upon for the understanding of this text or these texts. The field of linguistic, literary, historical, theological, philosophical, and religious studies understanding yields together the basis of a ‘Bible hermeneutic’ that opens up the biblical texts in all their aspects to understanding.”

Lexikon der Bibelhermeneutik (p. VI): “Die textbezogene Hermeneutik der Bibel stellt ein neues hermeneutisches Paradigma dar, in dem die kanonische Fassung der Bibel nicht primär binnentheologisch als ‘Evangelium’ und ‘Heilige Schrift’ verstanden wird und damit den nicht-theologischen textbezogenen Disziplinen hermeneutisch und methodisch weitgehend entzogen ist. Der hermeneutische Zugang [des Lexikons] ist vielmehr bereits im Ansatz heuristisch, multiperspektivisch und schließt sich nicht einer bereits bestehenden Konzeption an. Die führenden theologisch-hermeneutischen Begriffe ‘Evangelium’, ‘Wort Gottes’, ‘Heilige Schrift’, ‘Offenbarung’ stehen neben den im weitesten Sinne geistes- und kulturwissenschaftlichen Begriffen wie ‘Kanon’, ‘heiliges Buch’, ‘Text’, ‘Supertext’, ‘Rezeption’. Als integrierender Leitbegriff ist der Textbegriff gewählt, zu dem die theologischen Disziplinen ebenso wie die geistes- und kulturwissenschaftlichen Fächer genuine methodische und hermeneutische Zugänge besitzen und eigene Beiträge leisten können. Die Bibel wird als eine Sammlung unterschiedlicher Texte verstanden, die gemeinsam einen Supertext bilden. Zum Verstehen dieser Texte bzw. dieses Textes werden alle gegenwärtig texterklärenden wissenschaftlichen Disziplinen mit ihren Theorien, Methoden, Konzeptionen und Begriffen herangezogen. Das Feld von sprachlichem, literarischem, historischem, theologischem, philosophischem und religionswissenschaftlichem Verstehen ergibt gemeinsam die Basis einer ‘Bibelhermeneutik’, die die biblischen Texte in allen ihren Aspekten dem Verstehen erschließt.”

Selective grammatical analysis: Let me restrict myself to a few difficult points. textbezogene could be translated text-related, but it is perhaps a bit weak, and I think that text-oriented might capture the intended sense better. binnentheologisch is hard to render: I chose to adopt the paraphrasing translation “in a theologically internal manner”. It would have read better to translate entzogen as “removed” but I thought “withdrawn” better conveyed the intended sense. “approach” is often the best translation for Zugang and Ansatz, but in order to lessen the awkward repetition I translated Ansatz as “basic approach”. I considered translating Ansatz as “conception” here, but this solution also fell flat since this term follows shortly thereafter! As I have indicated elsewhere (see here and From Jesus to the New Testament, p. viii), the translation of the German term Wissenschaft/wissenschaftlich causes problems (for me), since there are advantages and disadvantages of using the language of “science/scientific” in English. With respect to the phrase neben den im weitesten Sinne geistes- und kulturwissenschaftlichen Begriffen, the problem is felt with particular severity for three reasons. First, it is necessary for stylistic reasons to change the German adjectival construction to a relative clause, which also requires one to change the adjectives into nouns here. Secondly, the translation of Begriff (my least favorite German word) is often problematic since it tends to hover between word and concept (see further here). Thirdly and most importantly, it is extremely difficult (for me) to translate geistes- und kulturwissenschaftlichen. In English, I suspect we might just say “the humanities” or “the liberal arts”, which in our sentence would result in “alongside terms that belong to the humanities in the broadest sense”. But I think it is probably necessary to retain at least something of the German nuance, so I have suggested “alongside terms that belong to the humanities and studies of culture in the broadest sense”. In the end, however, it might be better to employ the language of “science” here and write “that belong to the human sciences and cultural sciences in the broadest sense”, despite the fact using the language of “science” for anything other than the “natural sciences” (Naturwissenschaften) will probably meet with criticism from at least some readers (see e.g., here), which is notable in view of the different linguistic conventions of French, German, and presumably other languages. Finally, there would be several options for translating dem Verstehen erschließt. Given the overall tenor of the quotation, it seemed preferable to me to adopt the less theologically-loaded translation “open up” rather than “disclose” or “reveal” for erschließt. It is not clear to me whether it would be better to say “to the understanding” or “to understanding” in this case.

II) Biographical-Bibliographical Information

For Prof. Wischmeyer’s academic profile, see here. For a chronological list of her publications, see here.

Prof. Wischmeyer describes her current research focus as follows:

My field of research is the collection of writings of the New Testament in their religious, literary and historical contexts. At the foreground of my work stand, on the one hand, the writings of ancient Judaism (esp. Ben Sira), and, on the other hand, texts, themes and theology of Paul’s letters and the letter of James as well as the Gospel of Mark. The canonical and noncanonical writings of ancient Judaism and early Christianity are foundational texts both in religious and cultural respects. Like the great texts of the Graeco-Roman culture – above all the Homeric epics and the Aeneid but also the texts of Plato – they have brought forth a hermeneutic of their own. Rudolf Bultmann showed for the European and North American exegesis of the twentieth century that New Testament scholarship always goes together with hermeneutical questions. In the last generation it came, in the wake of the globalization of biblical scholarship, to something like an explosion of new hermeneutical approaches that must be exegetically and hermeneutically sifted and processed. It is to this task that my own works on New Testament hermeneutic are devoted, namely the Lexikon der Bibelhermeneutik (ed. Oda Wischmeyer 2009 and 2013) and the Handbuch der Bibelhermeneutiken (ed. Oda Wischmeyer, Walter de Gruyter, forthcoming 2015).

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

For tips on how to use this blog, please see here.

For two interviews with me about the Baylor-Mohr Siebeck Series, see Clifford Kvidahl and Michael Hölscher.

Facebook Page: To receive notifications of future blog posts, please subscribe to this blog and/or like my facebook page here.

German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! In an effort to provide a sense of regularity and predictability for this blog’s readership, I plan on writing a new post each Monday. So hopefully I will ‘see’ you again in a week’s time. Best, Wayne.

Markus Öhler, “Das ganze Haus. Antike Alltagsreligiosität und die Apostelgeschichte”, ZNW 102, 2011, 201-234

This post falls under one of my favorite categories on this blog, namely “German scholars”. The purpose of this category is to introduce junior and senior German scholars and their research to the English-speaking world. Each post will consist of (I) my translation of a short passage from a publication submitted by the German author him/herself and (II) some biographical-bibliographical information about the scholar in question. For further information on this category, see here. For my other “German scholars” posts, see here.

Today’s “German scholar” is Prof. Markus Öhler of the University of Vienna. As his passage of choice, Prof. Öhler has submitted an excerpt from the following work: “Das ganze Haus. Antike Alltagsreligiosität und die Apostelgeschichte”, ZNW 102, 2011, 201-234. See further here.

As usual I will begin with the English translation so that the selective grammatical commentary can directly follow the German version.

I. Translation

English Translation (wmc): “Thus, also in places where a pagan household turned completely to faith in God and Christ, as in the case of the prison guard of Philippi, it is implied for Luke and his readers that this left its mark also on the house as a building and the religious daily life that took place therein. Cultic images and house altars were expelled, the daily rites for Hestia, Zeus, and the Agathos Daimon were abandoned, the gods of the family that had been revered for generations were rejected as idols. Thus, the household as religious paradigm is characterized by the fact that in it the faith in the Kurios Christ pre-given by the head of the household is lived out in daily life. Thus the religious experience of the community realizes itself in the non-public sphere of the house and the family, which thus becomes the cult fellowship for God and Christ.”

„Das Ganze Haus“ (p. 234): „So wird auch dort, wo wie im Fall des Gefängniswärters von Philippi eine pagane Hausgemeinschaft sich vollständig dem Glauben an Gott und Christus zuwandte, für Lukas und seine Leser und Leserinnen impliziert sein, dass dies auch am Haus als Gebäude und dem sich darin vollziehenden religiösen Alltag nicht spurlos vorüberging. Kultbilder und Hausaltäre wurden hinausgeschafft, die täglichen Riten für Hestia, Zeus und den Agathos Daimon aufgegeben, die seit Generationen verehrten Götter der Familie als Götzen abgelehnt. Die Hausgemeinschaft als religiöses Paradigma zeichnet sich also dadurch  aus, dass in ihr der durch den Haushaltsvorstand vorgegebene Glaube an den Kyrios Christos im Alltag gelebt wird. Damit vollzieht sich das religiöse Erleben der Gemeinde im nicht-öffentlichen Bereich des Hauses und der Familie, die damit zur Kultgemeinschaft für Gott und Christus wird.“

Selective Grammatical Analysis: “So wird auch dort … impliziert sein, dass” is the basic building block of the difficult first sentence. It means „Thus it is implied also there that”. Since, however, “there, where” does not really work as a translation for “dort, wo” in English, I have translated “dort, wo” with “in places where”. Another common solution to this problem is to use “when” instead of “where”, which is more idiomatic. “am Haus … nicht spurlos vorüberging” could be translated literally as “did not pass by the house … without a trace”, but I decided to render it more idiomatically as “left its mark also upon the house…”. “zeichnet sich dadurch aus, dass” could also be translated with “is distinguished by the fact that” instead of “is characterized by the fact that”. I am uncertain how to translate “durch den Haushaltsvorstand vorgegebene Glaube”: I opted for the wooden “faith … pre-given by the head of the household”, though “prescribed by the head of the household” might be preferable, unless it shifts the meaning too much. I am uncertain whether “cult fellowship” is an adequate translation for “Kultgemeinschaft“. Other options might be “cultic fellowship” or “cult community”.

II. Biographical-Bibliographical Information about Markus Öhler

In the context of my PhD dissertation I especially dealt with the Jesus tradition (Elia im Neuen Testament, 1997). In my Habilitation, I then turned my attention to the history of early Christianity (Barnabas, 2003). Since then I have focused on two main areas of research. First, I have occupied myself with the social history of early Christianity, with an emphasis on the understanding of early Christian communities as a type (Spielart) of Greco-Roman associations (for example with regard to table fellowship and setting in houses). Secondly, I have focused on explaining early Christianity as part of Hellenistic-Roman history of religions, with a focus at present on religiosity in daily life. I teach New Testament in all its breadth for BA, MA, and PhD students at the Protestant Faculty of Theology of the University of Vienna where I studied and have remained, apart from a two-year research period in Tübingen. From the small Protestant faculty in Vienna, which represents an island in a land that is mostly Catholic, I attempt, by hosting conferences in Vienna and by attending conferences abroad, to take my exegetical approach into the world and to learn from all the world.

For further details on Prof. Öhler’s research and publications, please see here.

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

For tips on how to use this blog, please see here.

For two interviews with me about the Baylor-Mohr Siebeck Series, see Clifford Kvidahl and Michael Hölscher.

Facebook Page: To receive notifications of future blog posts, please subscribe to this blog and/or like my facebook page here.

German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! In an effort to provide a sense of regularity and predictability for this blog’s readership, I plan on writing a new post each Monday. So hopefully I will ‘see’ you again in a week’s time. Best, Wayne.

Michael Hölscher, “Entweder Gott oder der Mammon – Das soziale Anliegen des Lukas”

As I explained in my previous “German scholars” post on Volker Rabens, the purpose of this category is to introduce junior and senior German scholars and their research to the English speaking world. Each post will consist of (a) my translation of a short passage from a publication submitted by the German author him/herself and (b) some biographical-bibliographical information about the scholar in question. For information on submitting an entry for this category, see here.

Today’s “German scholar” is Michael Hölscher from the University of Mainz. He blogs at Grámmata, where he was kind enough to interview me about the Baylor-Mohr Siebeck Series in March (see here).

As his passage of choice, Hölscher has submitted an excerpt from the following work: Michael Hölscher. “Entweder Gott oder der Mammon – Das soziale Anliegen des Lukas”. Pages 222-226 in Jetzt verstehe ich die Bibel. Edited by A. Leinhäupl. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 2010. For his reflections on poverty and riches in Luke, see also here.

I) Translation: The Parable of the Unrighteous Manager (Luke 16:1-8)

English Translation (wmc): “Nevertheless the parable remains illogical: why is the manager praised at the end for doing exactly what he was reproached for at the beginning (squandering the possessions of the rich man)? Should one make a defrauder one’s role model? The narrative is not an example story that recommends that one act exactly as the hero in the narrative, but rather a parable that must be transferred/applied – for instance to the situation of the Christian community of Luke. Perhaps it is a matter of acting “cleverly” according to the different logic of the Lord and scraping/muddling through in a manner that is socially acceptable (and yet “unrighteous” according to worldly perceptions). The exhortation then reads: “Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon” (Luke 16.9). For Christians there remains only the hope of being judged and praised as “clever” by God at the end – because his logic is unworldly and illogical in the good sense.”

“Entweder Gott oder der Mammon“ (p. 225): „Nichtsdestotrotz bleibt das Gleichnis unlogisch: Warum wird der Verwalter am Ende dafür gelobt, dass er genau das tut, was ihm zu Beginn vorgeworfen wurde (den Besitz des Reichen zu verschleudern)? Soll man sich einen Betrüger zum Vorbild nehmen? Die Erzählung ist keine Beispielgeschichte, die einem empfiehlt, sich genau so zu verhalten wie der Held in der Erzählung, sondern eine Parabel, die übertragen werden muss – etwa auf die Situation der christlichen Gemeinde des Lukas. Vielleicht geht es darum, gemäß der anderen Logik des Herrn „klug“ zu handeln und sich sozialverträglich (aber nach weltlichem Empfinden „ungerecht“) durchzuschlagen. Die Aufforderung lautet dann: „Macht euch Freunde mit dem ungerechten Mammon“ (Lk 16,9). Für die Christinnen und Christen bleibt nur die Hoffnung, am Ende von Gott als „klug“ beurteilt und gelobt zu werden – weil seine Logik im guten Sinne weltfremd und unlogisch ist.”

Selective Grammatical Analysis: I experienced two difficulties with this passage. First, how can I convey the force of “übertragen”? Applied reads better but it doesn’t quite capture the sense that something must be taken over into another sphere. “transferred” seems better in terms of precision but it seems to require the addition of something else such as “to another sphere”. So I waffled and wrote transferred/applied, which is not really an option for a published translation. Secondly, I struggled to find a translation for “durchzuschlagen”, which I rendered as “scraping/muddling through”. The sense is clearer in the larger context of the essay where Hölscher has shown how the manager finds a way to maneuver through the difficult situation he is in, which helps to contextualizes what is meant here. Third, it is difficult to convey the force of “weltfremd” – unworldly isn’t quite right, but “foreign to the world” seemed to cumbersome.

II. Biographical-Bibliographical Information about Michael Hölscher (as submitted by author, with some modifications)

From 2003 to 2009 Michael Hölscher studied Catholic Theology, German language and literature in Münster (Germany). Between 2009 and 2013 he worked as a research assistant at the University of Graz (Austria). For the summer term of 2012 he furthered his studies of Matthew and Q in Edinburgh (United Kingdom). He now works at the University of Mainz (Germany). For further information, see his university page here.

At present Hölscher is working on his PhD dissertation. Its working title is “Matthäus liest Q. Eine Studie zu Mt 11,2-19 und Q 7,18-35” (Matthew as a Reader of Q: A Study of Matt 11.2-19 and Q 7.18-35).

He is interested in the way that Matthew deals with his sources Mark and Q, but especially with Q. Following James M. Robinson and Linden Youngquist he thinks that Matthew appreciates Q because Matthew sometimes takes over the Q outline and arranges the surrounding material to prepare for and reinforce the material adopted from Q. Matt 11:2-19/Q 7:18-35 is a good example of this technique: Matthew prepares for Matt 11:5/Q 7:22 (“The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear …”) by composing the miracle chapters 8-9 in such a way that in the Matthean story line Matt 11:5 can be read as a fulfillment statement.

In his dissertation he will provide (1) a history of research about the topic, (2) a reconstruction of Q 7:18-35 and a short commentary on the Q text to trace its specific theological profile, and (3) an analysis of the Matthean redaction and composition in Matt 11 (with a view to the whole Gospel). For a more detailed description of his project see here.

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

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For two interviews with me about the Baylor-Mohr Siebeck Series, see Clifford Kvidahl and Michael Hölscher.

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! In an effort to provide a sense of regularity and predictability for this blog’s readership, I plan on writing a new post each Monday. So hopefully I will ‘see’ you again in a week’s time. Best, Wayne.

 

Volker Rabens, “‘Schon jetzt’ und ‘noch mehr’: Gegenwart und Zukunft des Heils bei Paulus und in seinen Gemeinden” (JBTh 2013)

This post will inaugurate the new category of “German scholars”. The purpose of this category is to introduce junior and senior German scholars and their research to the English speaking world. Each post will consist of (a) my translation of a short passage (ca. 3-7 sentences) that the German author has selected and submitted from one of his or her publications and (b) some biographical-bibliographical information about the scholar in question, which will also be provided by the German author. For my other “German Scholars” posts, see here. For further information on this category, see here.

Today’s “German scholar” is Dr. Volker Rabens of the University of Jena, who is especially well known for his publications on the Spirit in early Christianity and its environment. Indeed, I suspect that a time will come when he may need to be added to Brian LePort’s list of “influential pneumatologists”. Please see here for Dr. Rabens website at the Theologische Fakultät Jena, which includes a picture of him. For his Academia.edu-profile, see here.

I. Translation: Adoption and Pauline Eschatology           

As his passage of choice, Dr. Rabens has submitted the following excerpt from his freshly-minted article “‘Schon jetzt’ und ‘noch mehr’: Gegenwart und Zukunft des Heils bei Paulus und in seinen Gemeinden”, which can be found in Jahrbuch für Biblische Theologie 28 (2013). This volume of JBTh, which is focused on the topic of “Zeit”, includes contributions from many perspectives, including New Testament scholarship, systematic theology, and practical theology (for Rabens essay, see now here)

English Translation (wmc): The motif of adoption, which we have returned to here, allows multiple characteristic features of Pauline eschatology to come to light. υἱοθεσία is a central image/picture for God’s intervention for the liberation of human beings(,) who live under the slavery of the powers. It has a punctiliar aspect, for it marks the entrance into God’s space of salvation, i.e., his family (which is again a ‘local’ aspect of the new age, as became clear in II.1.). But it does not only stand at the beginning of the salvific action of God. Rather, the experience of belonging to the family of God continually changes the believers in their identity and in their being. The Spirit of the Son lives the childship of God in the believers and gives expression to it (Gal 4.6; Rom 8.15). They no longer live under the slavery of the flesh, but due to these new experiences they can win the fight against the temptations of the flesh (Rom 8.12-17; Gal 5.16-18). Finally, adoption as children of God also has a future dimension, for it will only become completely manifest at the end of time (Rom 8.23). In closing we will now take up this future dimension of “time” in Paul in part III.

German version: Das Motiv der Adoption als Kinder Gottes, auf das wir hier zurückgekommen sind, lässt mehrere charakteristische Züge der paulinischen Eschatologie zutage treten. Die υἱοθεσία ist ein zentrales Bild für das Eingreifen Gottes zur Befreiung der Menschen, die unter der Knechtschaft der Mächte leben. Sie hat einen punktuellen Aspekt, denn sie markiert den Eintritt in den Heilsraum Gottes, seine Familie (die wiederum ein ‚lokaler‘ Aspekt des neuen Äons ist, wie in II.1. deutlich wurde). Sie steht aber nicht nur am Beginn des Heilshandeln Gottes. Vielmehr verändert die Erfahrung der Zugehörigkeit zur Familie Gottes kontinuierlich die Gläubigen in ihrer Identität und in ihrem Sein. Der Geist des Sohnes lebt die Gotteskindschaft in den Gläubigen und verleiht ihr Ausdruck (Gal 4,6; Röm 8,15). Sie leben nicht mehr unter der Knechtschaft des Fleisches, sondern können aufgrund dieser neuen Erfahrungen den Kampf gegen die Versuchungen des Fleisches gewinnen (Röm 8,12–17; Gal 5,16–18). Schließlich hat die Adoption als Kinder Gottes auch eine zukünftige Dimension, denn sie wird erst am Ende der Zeit vollkommen offenbar werden (Röm 8,23). Diese zukünftige Dimension von „Zeit“ bei Paulus werden wir nun in Teil III abschließend aufgreifen.

Selective Grammatical Commentary: Rather than writing “who live under the slavery of the powers” I considered writing “living under the slavery of the powers” for the sake of readability, but I think this may slightly shift the sense, which might be problematic. I have added „i.e.” before “his family” for the sake of clarity. I don’t think “intervention” is a particularly good translation for “Eingreifen” but I haven’t found a better one yet. Volker Rabens noted that he discusses Martyn’s language of “invasion” at an earlier point in the essay, but agreed that it would not be a good translation for “Eingreifen” here. I think “punctiliar” is preferable to “punctual” since the latter usually has the meaning of “on time”. I have translated “Heilsraum” as “space of salvation” but “Heilshandeln” as “salvific action”, while recognizing that it might be preferable to translate the former as “salvific space” or the latter as God’s act of salvation for the sake of consistency. I initially translated “Heilsraum” as “sphere of salvation”, but when Volker Rabens alerted me to the fact that “Heilsraum” (arguably) has more personal and “warm” connotations than “Heilssphäre”, I decided to translate it as “space of salvation”, which allowed me to maintain a distinction between “Heilsraum” and “Heilssphäre”. But it could be preferable to retain “sphere” since “space of salvation” sounds a bit awkward. It is very difficult to translate “Gotteskindschaft”, which I have translated with the non-word “childship of God”. Since Volker has presumably chosen it in order to employ gender inclusive language, I don’t think it would be appropriate to render it as “sonship”, though “sonship and daughtership” would be an option (see n. 33 in his article). This whole sentence is very difficult, for which reason I have had to discuss it with Volker Rabens. It is not uncommon to encounter such sentences, for which reason it is invaluable to me if I can have correspondence with the German author of the works I translate. Despite its enigmatic character, we settled on the wooden translation that I have provided, with the acknowledgement that a better translation is probably possible. The translation of “abschließend” is difficult. It sometimes works to translate it as “finally” but I’m not sure if that works well here. I decided to adopt “in closing”, despite the fact that this resulted in the awkward ending “in Paul in part III”. Another option would be to translate “abschließend” more freely with “as a final line of thought”, which could be placed at the end of the sentence. The sentence would then read: In part III we will we will now take up this future dimension of “time” in Paul as a final line of thought. Or, with Judy Redman, one could adopt an even more dynamic translation such as “In the final part of this paper, we will now deal with this ‘future’ dimension of time in Paul.”

II. Biographical-Bibliographical Introduction (as submitted by the author)

I am an enthusiastic Neutestamentler. I enjoy research and lecturing at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena where I currently hold a position as Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter in the New Testament department. The major places in my academic life have been London, Tübingen, Bochum, and now Jena. This means that I’ve come to benefit from the advantages of both Anglo-American and German scholarship on the New Testament, and one of my aims is to foster the dialogue between both traditions (see, e.g., my monograph The Holy Spirit and Ethics in Paul, which has been published both in Germany with Mohr Siebeck as well as in the United States with Fortress Press). My major areas of research are Paul and Pauline theology, early Judaism, Johannine Literature, and I am starting to work on 1 Peter. I have a particular interest in ethics and pneumatology. I am also interested in hermeneutics, particularly in critical methodologies of bringing early Christian ethics into dialogue with contemporary ethics. I enjoy contributing to international conferences, for example to the SBL Annual Meeting, where I am an active member of the steering committee of the “Biblical Ethics” Section.

Addendum: Readers of this blog may also be interested in Dr. Rabens’s PowerPoint on Der Paulinische Sündenbegriff.

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

For tips on how to use this blog, please see here.

For three interviews with me about the BMSEC series, see here, here, and here.

Facebook Page: To receive notifications of future blog posts, please subscribe to this blog and/or like my facebook page here.

German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! In an effort to provide a sense of regularity and predictability for this blog’s readership, I plan on writing a new post each Monday. So hopefully I will ‘see’ you again in a week’s time. Best, Wayne.