Torsten Jantsch on Jesus, the Savior: The Soteriology of the Lukan Doppelwerk

Since I have featured the work of Torsten Jantsch (Eng; Acad; Blog) on several occasions in the past (see here and here), I am especially pleased to include a post on his new book Jesus, der Retter: Die Soteriologie des lukanischen Doppelwerks (WUNT 381), Tübingen: Mohr, 2017, which is based on his LMU Munich habilitation thesis.

1. Translation and German Text (p. 351)

Even though this is not a “German Scholars Post” in the strict sense, I will include both a key excerpt from his book and a brief biographical note. As usual I will alternate between the English translation and the German text (p. 351):

Luke sketches a remarkably coherent picture of Jesus and his way from the prophet to the heavenly Christ, Lord, Ruler, and Savior.

Lukas zeichnet ein bemerkenswert kohärentes Bild von Jesus und seinem Weg vom Propheten zum himmlischen Christus, Herrn, Herrscher und Retter.

Jesus was active as Spirit-filled prophet and suffered the fate of the prophets of Israel, rejection and murder.

Jesus hat als geisterfüllter Prophet gewirkt und das Schicksal der Propheten Israels, Ablehnung und Tötung, erlitten.
* note: murder is not quite right for Tötung here, but it is perhaps better than “killing” or simply “death”

God, whose characteristic trait it is to exalt the lowly (Luke 1.51-53), restored the righteous and anointed servant of God Jesus, who had been lowered and killed, and exalted him to the Christ, Lord, Ruler, and Savior, who in and from heaven bestows his benefactions of the forgiveness of sins and following from this eternal life.
Gott, dessen Wesenszug es ist, die Niedrigen zu erhöhen (Lk 1,51–53), hat den erniedrigten und getöteten Gerechten und gesalbten Gottesknecht Jesus restituiert und zum Christus, Herrn, Herrscher und Retter erhöht, der im und aus dem Himmel seine Wohltaten der Sündenvergebung und daraus folgend ewiges Leben schenkt.

This will be visibly fulfilled at his parousia; in the time in between this Lord is accessible for believers in prayer.

Dies wird sich bei seiner Parusie sichtbar erfüllen; in der Zwischenzeit ist dieser Herr für die Gläubigen im Gebet zugänglich.

A fundamental statement of Lukan soteriology is: “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2.21/Joel 3.5).

Eine Grundaussage der lukanischen Soteriologie lautet: „Jeder, der den Namen des Herrn anruft, wird gerettet werden“ (Apg 2,21/Joël 3,5).

With this Luke sets forth the picture of a salvation that is consistently grounded in the person of Jesus.

Lukas entwirft damit das Bild eines konsequent in der Person Jesu begründeten Heils.

He does not, it is true, place the death of Jesus at the center of his soteriology – but the person of the exalted Savior.

Er stellt zwar nicht den Tod Jesu in das Zentrum seiner Soteriologie – aber die Person des erhöhten Retters.

Luke is the theology of salvation, which for him is to be obtained solely through Jesus as the Christ and Savior: He is the theologian of a consistently applied solus Christus.

Lukas ist der Theologe des Heils, das für ihn allein durch Jesus als den Christus und Retter zu gewinnen ist: Er ist der Theologe eines konsequent gedachten solus Christus.
* Not sure how to best capture the force of konsequent gedachten: consistently applied, consistently considered, consistently contemplated, consistently thought out, consistently applied, something else.

2. Biographical-Bibliographical Information

Torsten Jantsch, Dr. theol. from Humboldt University, Berlin, in 2009 with a dissertation on the concept of God in 1 Thess and 1/2 Cor, published as “Gott alles in allem” (1Kor 15,28): Studien zum Gottesverständnis des Paulus im 1. Thessalonicherbrief und in der korinthischen Korrespondenz (WMANT 129), Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener 2011. Habilitation in Munich (Ludwig Maximilian University) in 2015 on the concept of salvation in Luke-Acts, published as Jesus, der Retter: Die Soteriologie des lukanischen Doppelwerks (WUNT 381), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017. Hellenistic philosophies, particularly Cynicism, and the reception of Socrates from the beginnings (Xenophon, the early Platonic dialogues) until the time of the Roman Empire, the ancient ruler cult and prophecy in the Greco-Roman world were, among others, issues of his research so far. Several future research projects concern the perspective of collective memory in early Christianity, e.g. concerning the question of strategies of identity construction in Luke-Acts. Currently, he holds the position of Visiting Professor for New Testament II at the University of Munich (LMU).

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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

Oda Wischmeyer on Love as Agape

I have recently finished Oda Wischmeyer‘s excellent new book Liebe als Agape: Das frühchristliche Konzept und der moderne Diskurs (cf. Google Books), which does so much in less than 300 pages! Showing a remarkable breadth and depth of knowledge, Wischmeyer approaches the topic from multiple perspectives, including perceptive engagement with contemporary conceptions of love such as those of Julia Kristeva, Martha Nussbaum, and Benedict XVI in his encyclical Deus caritas est. In this way, she facilitates a dialogue between the treatment of love in the New Testament and the diverse discussions of love in our own time. For this post, I have chosen a short passage from her fourth chapter. As usual I will begin with the translation and then quote the original text.

Translation (wmc): Common to Paul and John is the interpretation of the death of Jesus as giving up the life for others, understood as the highest form of love. This form of giving up the own life as the highest expression of love undoubtedly forms the theological-christological center of the whole New Testament concept of love. Here in the inner-divine sphere the basic form of love is pre-formed and pre-suffered. When in John 1.1-3, 14, 18 and Philippians 2.6-7 the separation of the Son from the Father is addressed, which is formulated elsewhere as “delivering up (of the Son)”, and Jesus’s fate of death is interpreted as the love of God and of Jesus to human beings, we find ourselves at the center of the concept of love. Love and death mutually condition each other here, and yet in such a way that love and thus life gains the victory.

Liebe als Agape (p. 153): Paulus und Johannes gemeinsam ist die Interpretation des Todes Jesu als Hingabe des Lebens für andere, verstanden als höchste Form der Liebe. Diese Form der Hingabe des eigenen Lebens als des höchsten Ausdrucks der Liebe bildet zweifellos das theologisch-christologische Zentrum des gesamten neutestamentlichen Liebeskonzepts. Hier im innergöttlichen Bereich ist die Grundform der Liebe vor-geformt und vor-erlitten. Wenn in Joh 1,1-3.14.18 und in Phil 2,6f. die Trennung des Sohnes vom Vater angesprochen wird, die an anderer Stelle also “Dahingabe (des Sohnes)” formuliert ist, und Jesu Todesschicksal also Liebe Gottes und Jesu zu den Menschen interpretiert wird, befinden wir uns im Zentrum des Liebeskonzept: Liebe und Tod bedingen sich hier gegenseitig, aber so, dass die Liebe und damit das Leben den Sieg behält.

(Selective) Grammatical Analysis: Not sure if “giving up” is a good solution for “Hingabe”. I considered saying “his life” rather than “the life” (as often, each solution has its advantages and disadvantages). inner-divine doesn’t quite do justice to innergöttlichen but it still seems to be the best solution. Not sure if “vor-erlitten” is best translated with “pre-suffered” or if the sense is weaker, i.e. something like pre-experienced. I also considered translating “Dahingabe” as “handing over” or “giving over” rather than “delivering up”, which might not be a good word choice. I considered translating den Sieg behält with “prevailed” but it seemed important to retain the word “victory” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:55-56).

In other news, Oda Wischmeyer provides a fascinating analysis of N. T. Wright’s Biblical hermeneutics in her contribution to the forthcoming volume God and the Faithfulness of Paul (see here)!

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Matthias Konradt on the Soteriological Significance of Jesus’s Death in Matthew

In today’s post I will look at another key quotation from this year’s BMSEC volume, namely Matthias Konradt‘s book Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew, which has been translated with great precision and elegance by Kathleen Ess. For my other posts on this book, see here.

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

Translation and Text

Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew (p. 298; trans. K. Ess, bracketed material added by W. Coppins): While the soteriological dimension of the Matthean model of Jesus’ divine sonship is made clear already in 1.18-25 as well as in the pericope of Jesus’ walk across the water in 14.22-33, this dimension is emphatically reinforced in the Passion Narrative. Matthew concisely expresses the soteriological significance of Jesus’ death by adding εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν [for the forgiveness of sins] to the words of institution in 26.28. Matthew left out these very words in the portrayal of John the Baptist, in contrast with Mark 1.4. In Matthew, the forgiveness of sins is linked not with the baptism of John but with Jesus’ death. In the preceding narrative, this soteriological significance is reflected in the authority of the Son of Man to forgive sins in 9.6, as well as Jesus’ ministry to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” in general. Both elements together develop the basic christological statement of 1.21: “For Matthew the forgiveness of sins stands at the center of Jesus’ mission.” The connection between 1.21 and Jesus’ passion is not only achieved through 26.28 but also further substantiated in that the name Jesus, which in 1.21 is explained in the statement of salvation, is inserted in the titulus crucis in 27.37: the Markan ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων [the king of the Jews] becomes in Matthew οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων [this is Jesus the king of the Jews]. It is plausible to assume that Matthew here creates an intentional reference to the interpretation of the name in 1.21, and thereby, in line with 26.28, connects Jesus’ death with the forgiveness of sins.

* The quoted sentence is from the translation of U. Luz’ commentary on Matthew 21-28 (p. 381 = p. 116 in vol 4 of the German version).

Israel, Kirche und die Völker im Matthäusevangelium (p. 320): Wurde bereits in 1.18-25 sowie durch die Seewandelperikope in 14.22-33 die soteriologische Dimension der mattäischen Profilierung der Gottessohnschaft Jesu deutlich, so wird dies durch die Passionserzählung mit Nachdruck untermauert. Die soteriologische Bedeutung des Todes Jesu findet bei Matthäus einen konzisen Ausdruck in der Hinzufügung von εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν im Kelchwort in 26.28. Ebendiese Worte hat Matthäus bei der Präsentation des Täufers gegenüber Mk 1,4 ausgelassen. Sündenvergebung wird von Matthäus nicht schon an die Johannestaufe, sondern an den Tod Jesu gebunden. In der vorangehenden Erzählung steht dem in 9,6 die Vollmacht des Menschensohns zur Vergebung der Sünden wie überhaupt die Zuwendung Jesu zu den “verlorenen Schafen des Hauses Israel” zur Seite. Beides zusammen entfaltet die christologische Basis-aussage von 1,21. “Die Vergebung der Sünden ist für Matthäus das Zentrum der Sendung Jesu”. Die Verbindung zwischen 1,21 und der Passion Jesu erfolgt dabei nicht allein durch 26.28, sondern wird noch dadurch untermauert, dass der Name “Jesus”, der in 1,21 durch die Rettungsaussage erläutert wird, im titulus crucis in 27,37 eingefügt ist: Aus dem markinischen ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων wird bei Matthäus οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων. Die Annahme liegt nahe, dass Matthäus hier einen gezielten Rückvereis auf die Namensdeutung in 1,21 setzt und damit ganz auf der Linie von 26,28 den Tod Jesu als Ort der Sündenvergebung ausweist.

Grammatical Analysis

Rather than providing a selective analysis of the entire passage, let me now treat the last two sentences in detail as a model sentence: Die Verbindung … Jesu forms the subject of the verb erfolgt. Die Verbindung = the connection; zwischen = between + dative (1.21 und der Passion/the passion); Jesu is genitive (of Jesus); K. Ess has translated erfolgt with “is … achieved” rather than adopting a more wooden solution such as “takes place”. She appears to have left dabei untranslated (as I often do). nicht allein = not only. durch 26.28 = through 26.28 (it might have been preferable to write “is achieved not only through 26.28). sondern = but. I like the translation “is substantiated” for wird untermauert. She has rendered sondern … noch as “but also further”, which works well, since “not only” needs to be followed by “but also” in English. dadurch … dass has been translated with “in that”, which works well, though I might have gone with “but is further substantiated also by the fact that”. der Name Jesus / the name Jesus is the subject. It is modified by the non-defining relative clause der … wird: der = which; as usual the verb wird erläutert is moved to the end of the subordinate clause; durch die Rettungsaussage (acc) = “by the statement of salvation”. The verb of the main sentence, eingefügt ist has been moved to the end of the subordinate clause introduced by dass: I might have translated it with “has been inserted” rather than “is inserted” though I think it works well as it stands. In the German I would have expected (no doubt incorrectly!) the accusative (into the titulus crucis) rather than the dative im titulus crucis, which is correctly translated as “in the titulus crucis“. Aus X wird Y can be translated as “X becomes Y” (as K. Ess has done here). I always struggle with the translation of liegt nahe, and I might have rendered this phrase as “The assumption is suggested that” or “the assumption lies close at hand that”. But I much prefer K. Ess’s translation of this phrase as “It is plausible to assume”: dass introduces what is being assumed; that Matthäus … setzt und … ausweist. The object of setzt/creates is einen gezielten Rückverweis/an intentional reference, which is probably better than adopting a more expansive solution such as “an intentional reference back”. auf = to + die Namensdeutung/the interpretation of the name (accusative). damit is always troublesome. As K. Ess has done, I often translate it with “thereby”, which I think works well here, though I have increasingly begun to leave it untranslated or use “in this way”. K. Ess has left ganz untranslated, writing “in line with 26.28” rather than adopting a more cumbersome solution such as “completely in line with”. She has translated the last part of the sentence freely with “connected the death of Jesus with the forgiveness of sins” rather than adopting a more wooden translation such as “and thereby designated the death of Jesus as (the) place of the forgiveness of sins”, which might be preferable insofar as it retains the emphasis on place in the German.

Substantive analysis

I found this quotation to be a wonderfully compact presentation of the soteriological significance of Jesus’ ministry and death in Matthew. And for me at least Konradt’s interpretation of the significance of Matthew’s addition of Jesus’ name to the titulus was both convincing and new (it does not, however, appear to be a new idea as such; in his footnote to this point, Konradt writes: Compare Senior 1985, 131; Heil 1991a, 80; Luck 1993, 305; Repschinksi 2006, 264 (= CBQ 68); and Herzer 2009, 139).

Let me conclude this post by thanking Jason Maston again for interviewing me last week about the BMSEC series at Dunelm Road!

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! Unfortunately, I have found it increasingly difficult to write a new post each Monday, but I hope to be able to write at least two or three Monday blog posts each month. We’ll see. Best, Wayne.