Bockmuehl, Baur, and the Presence of Paul in the Pseudo-Clementines

Alongside my BMSEC translations, I am currently co-translating—with Christoph Heilig, Luke Ogden, and David Lincicum—F. C. Baur’s classic work “The Christ-Party in the Corinthian Community, the Opposition of Pauline and Petrine Christianity in the Most Ancient Church, the Apostle Peter in Rome.” This is proving to be a rewarding project, even if I must admit that I was soundly shellacked yesterday by a rather brutal sentence that extended to more than 20 lines! Today, however, I do not want to expose you to that horrible Leviathan but rather to juxtapose several passages from Baur with a passage from Markus Bockmuehl‘s book Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory, which I am reading with great profit alongside my translation of Baur. And with both of these works in mind, I am obviously also excited about Michael J. Kok’s New Series on Peter in Rome.

What I found interesting about today’s key quotations is the extent to which Baur already attempts to respond to the line of criticism that Bockmuehl advances. Therefore, I will first quote Bockmuehl’s criticism of Baur’s paradigm and then provide two quotes from Baur that provide at least a partial response to Bockmuehl’s argument.

Bockmuehl (Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory, pp. 56-57; cf. further The Remembered Peter, pp. 94-113): However, while an anti-Pauline bias is possible, there are a number of impediments to the Simon–Paul equation. First, the texts themselves nowhere make this connection. The one place where there is a clear reference to Paul (Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.70-71) presents him as the pre-Christian Saul, who primarily opposes James, and Peter only secondarily. Indeed, in this scene, which to be sure does not portray Saul in a positive light (he is introduced as “a certain hostile man”), Simon Magus and Saul are explicitly differentiated; Saul himself condemns Simon as a sorcerer (Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.70.2). This explicit differentiation between Saul and Simon has implications for attempts to find Paul behind the phrase “the man who is the enemy” in Ps.-Clem. EP 2.3, especially if one takes seriously the integrity of the epistle’s placement alongside the Pseudo-Clementine romances that feature Simon Magus as the clear antagonist. Second, Simon’s preaching, opposed by Peter, contains little that could be construed as Pauline. Most of it seems generally Gnostic rather than Pauline and lacks any Jewish apocalyptic framework, so important for Paul, or consistent references to Scripture. Simon rejects basic Pauline positions such as the resurrection from the dead (e.g. Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.54), the goodness of the creator (e.g., Ps.-Clem. Rec. 2.37,53), and the divine sonship of Christ (Ps.-Clem. Rec. 2.49), and he even sets himself up as the Messiah (e.g. Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.72; cf. 2.49; 3.47). These positions are difficult to square with any known picture of Paul, “orthodox” or “heretical.”

Baur (126-128): Specifically, it can be demonstrated that [127] in the teachings that he attributes to the magician Simon the author of the Clementines has especially the Marcionite system in mind and that he regarded this system as the outermost point of the path that the magician Simon had set out upon and that had then been traversed by the heretics that followed.

Namentlich läßt sich nachweisen, daß der Verfasser der Clementinen in den Lehren, die er dem Magier Simon beilegte, vorzüglich das Marcionitische System vor Augen hatte, und dieses als den äußersten Punkt des schon von dem Magier Simon eingeschlagenen und sodann von den folgenden häretikern betretenen Wegs betrachtete.

In view of the exact relationship that the Clementines have to the teaching of the Ebionites and the well-known hate for the apostle Paul with which this sect was filled, no other conclusion is possible except that the teaching of the Clementines is especially meant to oppose the principles that Paul had put forth about the relationship of the Mosaic law to Christianity.

Bei dem genauen Zusammenhange, in welchem die Clementinen mit der Lehre der Ebioniten stehen, und bei dem bekannten Hasse, mit welchem diese Secte gegen den Apostel Paulus erfüllt war, läßt sich nichts anders annehmen, als daß die Lehre der Clementinen insbesondere auch den Grundsätze entgegengesetzt werden sollte, welche Paulus über das Verhältnis des Mosaischen Gesetzes zum Christentum aufgestellt hatte.

Just as in the presentation of the Clementines, Marcion collapses with Simon the magician into a single person, so the magician, through the mediation of Marcion, could also be thought together with the apostle Paul. After all, the Gnosis of Marcion did indeed have a Pauline–anti-Jewish foundation, and for Marcion Paul was regarded especially as Ἀπόστολος.

Wie nun Marcion in der Darstellung der Clementinen mit dem Magier Simon in eine Person zusammenfällt, so konnte durch Marcions Vermittlung der Magier auch mit dem Apostel Paulus zusammengedacht werden, da ja die Gnosis Marcions durchaus eine paulinische-antijudaische Grundlage hatte und Paulus dem Marcion vorzugsweise als Ἀπόστολος galt.

Therefore, I do not shy away at all from claiming that the ἄνθρωπος ἐχθρός who appears with the διδαχη ἄνομος και φλυαρώδης διδασκαλία is nominally the magician Simon in the first instance, but is really Paul as well as Marcion who follows the Pauline direction to the [128] extreme.

Deßwegen nehme ich nun keinen Anstand zu behaupten, jener ἄνθρωπος ἐχθρός, der mit der κδιδαχη ἄνομος και φλυαρώδης διδασκαλία auftritt, ist zwar nominell zunächst der Magier Simon, reel aber ebenso gut Paulus als der die paulinische Richtung bis zum Extrem verfolgende Marcion.

It is the same with the πλάνος in Hom. 2:17. While this false teacher is the magician for the author of the Clementines according to the most natural sense of his words, here the magician nevertheless also represents especially the apostle Paul, whose destructive principles concerning the defunct validity of the Mosaic law or whose false gospel is to be counteracted by the true gospel proclaimed by Peter.

Ebenso verhält es sich mit dem πλάνος Hom II.17. Dieser Irrlehrer ist dem Verfasser der Clementinen allerdings nach dem nächsten Sinn seiner Worte der Magier, aber der Magier repräsentiert hier zugleich ganz besonders der Apostel Paulus, dessen verderblichen Grundsätzen über die erloschene Gültigkeit des mosaischen Gesetzes oder dessen falschem Evangelium durch das von Petrus verkündigte wahre Evangelium entgegengewirkt werden sollte.

Baur (129-130): An objection against accepting a polemical tendency in the Clementines against the apostle Paul cannot be derived from Hom. 3:59, the passage cited on p. 123. In this passage (which can be compared with 3:3) the teaching of the magician is referred to as paganism that has been revived in Gnosticism and also further refined. How, one could say, can the magician Simon, as an apostle of paganism, simultaneously represent the apostle to the pagans/Gentiles, Paul? However, as soon as we see the magician as the bearer of a whole series of phenomena, then the one antithesis does not exclude the other one.

Baur (129-130): Gegen die Annahme einer polemischen Tendenz der Clementinen gegen den Apostel Paulus kann man nicht wohl eine Einwendung aus der S. 123 angeführten Stelle Hom. III. 59. entnehmen, sofern nämlich in dieser Stelle (mit welcher III. 3. zu vergleichen ist) die Lehre des Magiers als das im Gnosticismus wieder auflebende und zugleich verfeinerte Heidentum bezeichnet wird. Wie sollte, könnte man sagen, der Magier Simon als ein Apostel des Heidentums zugleich den Heidenapostel Paulus in sich repräsentieren können? Allein sobald wir in dem Magier den Träger einen ganzen Reihe von Erscheinungen sehen, schließt die eine Antithese die andere nicht aus.

For other posts on F.C. Baur, see here.

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

Bibliographies of Neutestamentler/innen in the German Language Sphere

For the most up-to-date version of BNGLS, see here.

As a new feature for this blog, I have spent the last two weeks compiling Bibliographies of Neutestamentler/innen in the German Language Sphere (BNGLS). This task has greatly expanded my own understanding of what is going on in the German-speaking world, and I hope it will also prove beneficial for others who are seeking to engage with the ‘German’ tradition. A distinctive feature of this new resource is that I have provided a separate bibliography of the English publications of each German-language-sphere scholar as well as a link to their full bibliographies, webpages, pages etc. For the bibliographies themselves see the BNGLS tab of my blog or click here.

Jumping over one’s own shadow with Ernst Käsemann and David Lincicum: the challenge of translating unusual idioms

In today’s post I will attempt to respond to a question submitted by Dr. David Lincicum of the University of Oxford [now Notre Dame], whose forthcoming edited volume on F. C. Baur I discussed on March 24th  (see here). His question concerned the translation of the idiom “über den eigenen Schatten springen”, which Ernst Käsemann uses in his introduction to the exegetical volume of F. C. Baur’s Ausgewählte Schriften, p. xi, and elsewhere. With reference to this example, Lincicum asked to hear my thoughts on “rendering vivid phrases like this into English”: [a] do I “keep the metaphor, though knowing that it will sound odd to English-speakers but perhaps more powerful for that reason”, or [b] do I “translate it into some kind of roughly equivalent English metaphor”, or [c] do I “simply opt for the sense of it?”

In my view, this is a very good theoretical question, which unfortunately allows for no easy answer, at least as I see it. The key point to note is that every solution has its pros and cons. Option (a) prioritizes the translator’s allegiance to the source language, which is good, but presses the limits of the target language, which is usually bad, though perhaps not here since the resulting oddness or awkwardness might increase the power of the metaphor. In general, option (b) is an attractive option with a view to the translator’s allegiance to the target language, especially if it is possible to find an especially suitable metaphor in English, and it has the advantage of retaining something of the metaphorical character of the source language. So this is often a good solution, i.e. if a suitable English idiom is available, and if the advantages of retaining the odd original idiom are not judged to outweigh it. Finally, (c) is often the best option with a view to readability and probably preferable to (b) in cases in which it is not possible to find a particularly suitable metaphor and to (a) if the German idiom is too awkward or too difficult to comprehend.

Before turning to the expression “über den eigenen Schatten springen” let me comment briefly on a comparable problem that I encountered in my translation of Martin Hengel’s essay “Eye-Witness Memory and the Writing of the Gospels” for Graham Stanton’s Festschrift The Written Gospel (eds. Markus Bockmuehl and Donald Hagner). Though it has been almost ten years now, I remember well struggling to figure out how I should translate the idiom “hat sich den Jüngern ins Herz gebrannt“ in the sentence: “Die Erinnerung an die letzte Nacht mit dem Passamahl und den Ereignissen in Gethsemane, an den Verrat des Judas, die Verleugnung des Petrus und die eigentliche Passion hat sich den Jüngern ins Herz gebrannt.“ In the end, I decided to stick closely to the German wording and write “were burned into the hearts of the disciples” [“were” is unfortunately incorrect: it should read “was burned into” or “burned itself into”!] with the exactly the rationale suggested by Lincicum, namely because it seemed to me that the retention of this unusual idiom might make it all the more powerful for the English reader. In other words, I decided that (a) was the best option, all things considered. But is this also the best solution for “über den eigenen Schatten springen”?

Let me begin by surveying some of the ways that the expression can be used. Here is what I have been able to find so far:

According to the Redensarten-Index, the phrase means “sich überwinden; ungewöhnlich handeln; für eine richtige Sache einen Grundsatz ignorieren“ (to overcome oneself; to act unusually; to ignore a principle for a right thing/just cause”).

According to Katja Grundman’s post at the GeoLino Redewendungen page, “‘Über seinen Schatten springen‘ sagt man, wenn jemand etwas tut, obwohl es seinen eigenen Überzeugungen oder seinem Charakter widerspricht. (“‘to jump over one’s shadow’ is what one says when someone does something, although it contradicts his [or her] own convictions or character”).

Duden explains the phrase as follows: “sich überwinden, etwas zu tun, was gegen die eigene Natur, die eigenen Vorstellungen, Absichten, Wünsche geht“ (to overcome oneself, to do something that goes against one’s own nature, ideas, intentions, wishes)

Not surprisingly, Linguee’s example sentences reflect a diverse range of solutions that move between (a) and (c), for example: (a) “jump over its/your own shadow”, “reach beyond their shadows”, (b) “to change their spots”, “breaking the mould”, “expand one’s horizons”, (c) “surpass ourselves”, “change the habit of a lifetime”, “change our attitudes”, “a change of approach”.

Finally, translates the phrase “Man kann nicht über seinen eigenen Schatten springen” with “The leopard cannot change his spots”.

Against this background, let us now look at how the phrase is being used by Käsemann in his in introduction to the exegetical volume of F.C. Baur’s Ausgewählte Schriften, p. xi):

[x] Gleichwohl darf man Baurs Deutung nicht einfact als vermeidbaren Fehlschluß betrachten. Sie hat Ursachen, für welche Baur kaum verantwortlich gemacht werden kann, wenn man nicht von ihm verlangt, dass er auf der ganzen Linie die zu seiner Zeit geltenen Prämissen hätte überspringen müssen … [xi] Von den gegebenen Voraussetzungen aus ist solche Argumentation und Interpretation geschlossen und sogar überzeugend. Für eine echte Alternative war die Zeit noch nicht reif. Baur hätte über den eigenen Schatten springen müssen, um sie zu erkennen. Wenn der bedeutende Historiker jedoch aus dem Schatten seiner Zeit herausspringt, muß er gleichwohl dem Verhängnis, sich nicht völlig lösen zu können, seiner Tribut zahlen.“

Käsemann’s larger argument in this section is that Baur can hardly be made responsible for the problems with his line of argumentation because they are a result of the problematic premises of his time period that he was not in position to overcome completely. Against this background, the statement “Baur would have had to jump over his own shadow to recognize it [a genuine alternative]” appears to have the basic force of “Baur would have had to do the impossible to recognize it”. But how should it be translated? In my judgment, it is difficult to decide between the three options here, namely (a) retaining the idiom: “Baur would have had to jump over his own shadow to recognize it [a genuine alternative], (b) making use of a comparable English idiom: “Baur would have had to change his spots to recognize it” or “Baur would have had to play a different hand than he had been dealt to recognize it”, or (c) translating according to sense: “Baur would have had to do the impossible to recognize it” or “Baur would have had to break through his own historical limitations to recognize it”. In the end, I would probably retain the idiom together with the corresponding image of jumping out of the shadow in the next sentence. But I can understand why others might think it would be better to adopt options (b) or (c), and would certainly not be quick to criticize them if they did. If (c) were adopted, then one could perhaps write: “Baur would have had to break through his own historical limitations to recognize it. If, however, the important historian did break out of the limitations of his time, then he must nevertheless pay his tribute to the fate of not being able to completely overcome them.”

[In response to my original post, Christoph Heilig helpfully drew my attention to the moral dimension of this idiom: “Interestingly, the German idiom is used quite unusually here. You got the sense right (c)), because the context clearly speaks of real constraints and limitations. However, usually “über den eigenen Schatten springen” is used to describe decisions which are well possible but demand courage. Hence, this expression normally has a moral component.”]

Many thanks to David Lincicum for submitting such a stimulating (and challenging!) question.

For other posts on E. Käsemann in the blogosophere, see here.

For other posts on F. C. Baur in the blogosphere, 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.


Rehabilitating F. C. Baur with Jens Schröter and Matthew Hopper

While looking through my Mohr Siebeck catalogue, I was pleased to learn of a forthcoming volume entitled Ferdinand Christian Baur und die Geschichte des frühen Christentums (eds. Martin Bauspiess, Christof Landmesser, and David Lincicum). Sharing David Lincicum’s high estimation of Baur’s importance (see here; cf. here, here, and here), this post will attempt to prepare the way for this forthcoming volume by “rehabilitating” Baur in two respects, namely (1) in relation to his pioneering appropriation of historiographical insights and (b) in relation to his relationship to Hegel. To do so, I will take my initial orientation from two quotations from Jens Schröter’s book Von Jesus zum Neuen Testament / From Jesus to the New Testament.

1) Baur and Historiography

From Jesus to the New Testament (p. 320): “These exegetical-historical conclusions were obtained on the basis of the conviction that historical individual-appearances can only be understood by discovering their inner connection. As isolated individual phenomena, by contrast, they remain mute. In early Christianity, Baur saw such a connection in the opposition between Pauline and Petrine parties, whose views were then conciliated with each other. Even if this view was subsequently clearly differentiated with regard to the positions represented in early Christianity, the lasting significance of Baur lies in the thoroughgoing application of the principles of historical research to the beginnings of Christianity. He thereby laid the methodological foundations for all subsequent conceptions of a history of Christianity.” (cf. pp. 15-18, 27, 29, 31, 39, 319-21).

Von Jesus zum Neuen Testament ( p. 346): “Diese exegetisch-historischen Ergebnisse sind auf der Grundlage der Überzeugung gewonnen, das geschichtliche Einzelerscheinungen nur dadurch verstanden werden können, dass man ihren inneren Zusammenhang aufdeckt. Als isolierte Einzelphänomene bleiben sie dagegen stumm. Im Urchristentum sah Baur einen solchen Zusammenhang im Gegenüber der paulinischen und petrinischen Partei, deren Auffassungen dann miteinander vermittelt worden seien. Auch wenn diese Sicht im Blick auf die im Urchristentum vertretenen Positionenen später deutlich ausdifferenziert wurde, liegt die bleibende Bedeutung Baurs darin, die Prinzipien historischer Forschung konsequent auf die Anfänge des Christentums angewandt zu haben. Er hat damit die methodischen Grundlagen für alle späteren Entwürfe einer Geschichte des Urchristentum gelegt.”

2) Baur and Hegel

From Jesus to the New Testament (p. 320n6): “By contrast it is inappropriate, as unfortunately often occurs, to dismiss Baur’s contribution with the observation that he forced Hegel’s philosophy of history onto the history of early Christianity. The article on the Corinthian Letters, in which he submitted his view for the first time, was written before Baur became familiar with Hegel’s writings. Cf. Hodgson 1966, 22.”

Von Jesus zum Neuen Testament   (p. 346n6): “Dagegen ist es unangemessen, was leider oft geschieht, Baurs Beitrag mit dem Hinweis abzutun, er habe der Geschichte des Urchristentums Hegels Geschichtsphilosophie aufgezwungen. Der Aufsatz über die Korintherbriefe, in dem er seine Sicht zum ersten Mal vorlegte, wurde geschrieben, bevor Baur mit Hegels Schriften bekannt wurde. Vgl. Hodgson, Historical Theology, 22.”

3) Substantive Analysis

My purpose here is not to rehabilitate Baur at every point. On the contrary, I think that fundamental aspects of his project have rightly been called into question. I do, however, think that it is unhelpful when a towering figure like Baur is set aside with dismissive slogans rather than engaged with in a critical and constructive manner. Against this background, I was somewhat frustrated to read the following statement in David Wenham’s forward to the important work Earliest Christian History: History, Literature, and Theology: Essays from the Tyndale Fellowship in Honour of Martin Hengel (eds. M. Bird and J. Maston): “Baur’s Hegelian analysis of the history of early Christianity and of the New Testament as a conflict between the Jewish Christianity of Peter and others and the Hellenistic Christianity of Paul was very influential, very damaging to traditionally orthodox Christian faith, but deeply flawed, as has been almost universally recognized since” (my emphasis). And I experienced comparable disappointment upon reading the similar statement of Daniel B. Wallace in his otherwise enjoyable blog post in memory of Martin Hengel: “These 19th-century scholars, especially Baur, applied Hegelian dialectic to New Testament studies (i.e., thesis vs. antithesis, struggling with each other end up resulting in a synthesis of both). Baur had been one of Hegel’s students; he applied this dialectic to the authorship of the NT writings, resulting in seeing only four authentic letters by Paul and seeing John as written sometime after 160 CE” (my emphasis). The problem with these quotations is not that Baur is beyond reproach. He is not! The problem is that Baur’s contribution is too quickly sloganized and dismissed by means of a somewhat inaccurate – or at least grossly oversimplified – attribution of his views to the influence of Hegel, which inevitably prevents the productive aspects of his approach from being appreciated and appropriated, for example his appropriation of advances in historiography (cf. FJNT, p.16). In fact, it could be added that in this respect F. C. Baur and Martin Hengel could be compared rather than contrasted with each other (cf. Hengel, “Eye-Witness Memory and the Writing of the Gospels”, pp. 93-95)! Let me conclude by noting that my own stance toward Baur was greatly shaped through my supervision of Matthew Hopper’s learned and spirited MA Thesis “Historical Theology as the Crossroads of Faith and Reason: The Contribution of Ferdinand Christian Baur”, which he completed in 2008. While my enthusiasm for Baur does not extend as far as my student’s, I remain indebted to Mathew Hopper for giving me a much greater appreciation for this Tübingen giant. Needless to say, I look forward to learning more about Baur’s achievements and shortcomings from the forthcoming volume Ferdinand Christian Baur und die Geschichte des frühen Christentums.

For some other posts on F. C. Baur in the blogosphere, see here.

For my other posts on Jens Schröter and historiography, 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.