Archive for June, 2012

Saturday  June 30

Dear Mark,

Sorry I haven’t emailed you earlier, but I’ve been trying to condense the great topics and discussions and questions we are enjoying in our theological dialogue here in Sigtuna. We have a good number of participants and many new historical issues and differing theological aspects of Bonhoeffer’s life and theology that we have been presented with from the lecturers…that really have been interesting.

First of all…the Sigtuna location for this Congress has been an excellent choice…both for its beautiful, comfortable, and ascetic qualities that lend themselves so well to group theological interaction and the wonderful fellowship that Bonhoeffer Congresses seem to initiate and and provide a sense of continuity for returning and new participants each year. The rooms here are very nice and the food has been the best (I think) ever.

Secondly, the historical reality that Bishop Bell and Bonhoeffer had their secret meeting here in Sigtuna (in an upper room in a building down in the village of Sigtuna, rather than here on this campus) makes this very special as the Congresses , I believe , are always held at places Bonhoeffer met with people in ecumenical and in critical consideration of how to apply Christian thought and action to resistance to Hitler and the Nazi tragedy for the German people. This location for the Congress makes us feel the living history of Bonhoeffer’s lasting influence on the contemporary, authentic and world changing witness of Christians and Churches trying to live in faith to God, Christ and one another. We have taken several trips to the upper room where Bell and Bonhoeffer met.

And, thirdly…concepts have come up in the lectures each day that give us several new things to question and consider. I can’t address them all, but here are some of the issues and discussions:

What if Bishop Bell’s and Bonhoeffer’s meeting had gained the response and help of the British and the Allies to assist and really respond to what Bonhoeffer and the other conspirators were trying to do?

What about the new issue for many of us that the longstanding question of how could a Christian get involved in assassinating a governmental leader? What has come up in this Congress is the concept of “Tyrannicide” having some sense of justification in attempting to topple and murderous governmental leader? “Tyrannicide” was something new to many of us in this Congresses’ lectures and discussion.

I must stop here, but will try to give you a more thorough report when I get home (although I must humbly admit there is a wealth of issues in this Congress that will take me some time to try to look at again to come up with hopefully accurate descriptions of what we have been presented with here at Sigtuna.

Yours in Christ,



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Gerhard von Rad’s Predigt-Meditationen, written between 1946 and 1966, were published by his daughter Ursula in 1973.  His remarks on exegesis and preaching serve as an introduction to the volume.  They were taken from an Übung (workshop or exercise-type course) he shared with Günther Bornkamm and Hans von Campenhausen (a patristic scholar).

Zwei Sätze stehen für uns fest, darin sind wir drei Veranstalter dieser Übung uns einig:

1.  Die Texte der Bibel müssen gepredigt werden . . .

2.  Die Texte der Bibel können gepredigt werden.

 Beides ist Auslegung: die wissenschaftliche Exegese und die Predigt.

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Personal Note

Well, about two years ago I said, “I’ll be back soon,” and I haven’t done a whole lot since then.  I usually work on my Theological German over the summer.  Two years ago after my father passed away I spent a lot of time with my mother.  Since then I’ve spent a lot of time with my grandchildren, partly because I realize how important my dad was to my own kids.  I have a little different perspective on the importance of things.

But Bonhoeffer reminds me that even  penultimate things have a relative importance in their place.  Theological German is one of those penultimate things for me.  It is still important to have a broader perspective on theology than an English-only perspective would give.

I agree with those who say “don’t just learn theological German, learn German.”  I would say, take a class, visit a German speaking country, or better yet, study at a German or Swiss university.  In fact the best thing would be to do what Chris Tilling did: Move to Germany and marry a beautiful German-speaking woman.  But if you can’t do that, do what you can.

My other hobby is bicycle riding.  I like to watch the Tour de France and imagine myself racing up the mountains in the middle of the peleton, sharing a conversation in German with the rider on my ride and in French with the rider on my left, and saying “Andiamo!” to the slow Italian behind.  In wirklichkeit, I can’t go as fast downhill as the pros go up the mountains.  I plod along in the picturesque-but-modest-by-alpine-standards flint hills where I live at an average of about 13 mph.  Still cycling is good for me, and enjoyable, and the more I engage in it the more I believe in it.

Last week my wife and I watched the Tour de Suisse on TV.  The program was in English but the American network got there feed from German language TV, so the captions were in German.  The leader was the “Spitze” (point or tip).  The king of the mountain prize was the Bergpreis, and the highest mountain climb (hors categorie, excuse the French, but even German TV uses it) was the Glaubenberg.

I teach undergraduate Bible, including Greek and Hebrew, at Manhattan Christian college in Kansas (the “Little Apple).  Occasionally I gather two or three students to read some German once a week.  I also teach a masters level summer term course on OT Research at Kentucky Christian University.  As part of my preparation I just finished reading A Brief History of Old Testament Chriticism: from Benedict Spinoza to Brevard Childs by Mark S. Gignilliat (Zondervan, June, 2012).  Major chapters devoted to DeWette, Wellhausen, Gunkel, and von Rad reminds me how important German continues to be for research in Biblical studies.

Four years ago I attended the International Bonhoeffer Congress in Prague.  The next quadrennial Congress is about to begin in Sweden.  I am not able to attend this year, but a colleague Robert Ford is on his way.  If he finds good internet connections, he is going to send me email updates, which I will post here.

Meanwhile I hope to have a few more posts from Schlatter’s study of Glauben.  Just arrived in the mail is a copy of von Rad’s Predigt-Meditationem, which I look forward to perusing and posting in the coming weeks.  I also have a commentary on Ephesians by Snackenburg that I’m reading in preparation for a fall class on the Prison Epistles.  Hopefully I will bring a few posts from that also over the next few weeks.

I am spurred on by Gerhard von Rad’s motto:

“Meine Aufgabe als akademischer Lehrer war und ist: Lesen zu lernen und lesen zu lehren.”


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   Der Jude wußte aber aus seiner Bibel, daß sein Lebenslauf nicht nur von dem abhänge, was die Menschen für ihn sind, sondern zuerst durch Gottes Handeln hergestellt werde.

Israels Gott steht mit seinem Volke in einem persönlichen Verkehr.

Er ist des Volkes eigener Gott, der es regiert, so daß seine Geschichte durch eine fortlaufende Reihe von Handlungen Gottes gestaltet wird, die aus einer allmächtigen Güte hervorgehen.  Got war als der Geber alles Guten für sein Volk offenbar.  Deshalb hatte der jüdische Gottesgedanke stetig die Erweckung des Glaubens bei sich; jede Errinnerung an Gott wirkt als Glaubensmotiv.



die Erinnerung memory, remembrance
die Erweckung awakening, arousal
der Gedanke idea, thought
der Gottesgedanke thought of God, idea of God
die Geschichte story, history
die Güte goodness, kindness, blessings
die Handlung action, act
der Lebenslauf course of life, curriculum vitae, resumé
die Reihe line, row, series
der Verkehr relationship


abhängen depend
gestallten shape, design, form
herstellen/hergestellt make, place here

hervorgehen arise, emerge
regieren rule
stehen stand, stay
wissen/wusste/gewusst know

anderer Wörter

allmächtig all powerful
deshalb therefore, hence, on these grounds
eigen one’s own, personal
fortlaufend consecutive, sequential, running
offenbar revealed
sondern but
stetig constant
zuerst first
. . . nicht nur von dem abhänge, was . . . does not depend on that which

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Für den Israeliten erhielt daher das Wort »glauben« seinen Inhalt nicht bloß durch diejenigen Beziehungen, in die wir zu den Menschen um uns her gesetzt sind.  Weil unsere Lebensläufe ineinander gefügt sind, so daß der eine auf die Hilfe und Gabe des anderen angewiesen ist, stehen wir zueinander fortwährend in einem mannigfach abgestuften Glaubensverband.  Denn unser Verhalten beruht unaufhörlich auf einem Urteil, das das künftige Handeln und die bleibende Gesinnung der anderen mißt.  Falls wir in ihnen Warheit und Güte voraussetzen, glauben wir ihnen, indem wir uns mit ihrem Gedanken und Willen einigen.


die Beziehung respect, regard, connection
die Gabe gift
der Gedanke idea, thought
der Gottesgedanke thought of God, idea of God
die Gesinnung disposition, ethos, attitude
der Glauben faith, belief, trust
der Glaubensverband alliance in faith
die Güte goodness, kindness, blessings
das Handeln action, dealing
der Inhalt content
der Lauf course, cycle
der Lebenslauf course of life, curriculum vitae, resumé
das Urteil judgment, decision, conviction
das Verhalten behavior, comportment, demeanor
die Warheit truth


angewiesen depend on, rely on
beruhen depend on, be based on, rely on
einigen agree

erhalten/erhielt receive, obtain
gefügen join, acquiesce, submit
glauben believe, trust
ineinander into one another
messen (mißt) measure, gauge
stehen stand, stay
voraussetzen assume, suppose, require

anderer Wörter

abgestuft arranged in a hierarchy, gradual, graduated
bloß bare, merely
daher therefore, hence
derjenige he who, that which
indem as
falls if, in case, in the event of
fortwährend constant/ly
gesetzt set, settled, composed; assumed
künftig future
mannigfach diverse, manifold
unaufhörlich without end

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Die Gemeinde, in deren Mitte sich die neutestamentliche Geschichte zugetragen hat, gründete ihre ganze Frömmigkeit bewußt und entschlossen auf die Bibel. Das besagt: die durch die alttestamentliche Geschichte geschaffene Begründung des glaubenden Verhaltens gegen Gott ist in ihr wirksam geblieben.

die Begründung motivation, reason, grounds
die Frömmigkeit piety
die Gemeinde community
die Geschichte history
die Mitte middle, midst in deren Mitte in whose midst
das Verhalten behavior, conduct

besagen mean, indicate
bleiben, ist geblieben remain
tragen bear, carry
sich zutragen befall
sich zugetragen hat transpired

anderer Wörter
bewußt conscious, consciously
entschlossen determined, resolute, -ly
gegen toward, in the presence of (usually against)
geschaffen created, made
wirksam effective, active

The syntax of the following sentence may present a challenge:

die durch die alttestamentliche Geschichte geschaffene Begründung des glaubenden Verhaltens gegen Gott ist in ihr wirksam geblieben.

The first thing that helps me is recognizing what I call the “article sandwich,” here consisting of everything between die and Begründung: everything between those two words should describe Begründung. (I notice that there is a second article sandwich embedded within this one: die alttestamentliche Geschichte). The following graphical analysis and provisional translation may help clarify (though I am still uncertain whether the antecedent of the ihr is Gemeinde or Bibel).
die                                                                                        Begründung

durch die alttestamentliche Geschichte geschaffene
des glaubenden Verhaltens gegen Gott

ist in ihr [in der Bibel oder in der Gemeinde?] wirksam geblieben

The grounding of believing behavior
created through Old Testament history
in the presence of God
remained effective in it.

Who wants to try a translation of the entire passage?

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I became interested in Adolf Schlatter because Dietrich Bonhoeffer referred to him fondly and with great respect in his prison letters.  There seems to be a resurgence of interest in Schlatter, as witnessed by the announcement by Logos of plans to publish his “Der Glaube” and a recent biography by Werner Neuer [1988 R. Brockhuas Verlag; English ed 1995, tr. Robert W. Yarbrough].  There is also controversy regarding his “anti-judaism.”

Schlatter died in 1938; in his last years he opposed the Führer cult and German nationalism.  The occasion of greatest embarrassment today is the title of his 1935 pamphlet “Wird der Jude über uns siegen?”  (Will the Jew be victorious over us?)  Some see this as a sign of deep hatred of the Jews.  Neuer sees the title as ironic and the essay as an attack on racism.  I hope to explore this issue myself further.

Schlatter was close friends with Hermann Cremer (author of Biblisch-theologisches Wörterbuch) during the years the two were colleagues at Greifswald.  At Tübingen Schlatter was the teacher of Gerhard Kittle.  The philological-theological approach of Cremer, Schlatter, and Kittle reached its fulfillment in Kittle’s famous Theologisches Wörterbuch.  The method is demonstrated in Schlatters 600+ page “Der Glaube im Neuen Testament.  I will be posting a few selections in the following weeks.

The “Table of Contents” illustrates how far a little bit of German will go in research.  Knowledge of a few nouns will give you an idea of the contents of the book.  The second part “Erläuterungen” presents the evidence in the form of citations in Greek.

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Adolf Schlatter, Der Glaube im Neuen Testament (1882)



Kap 1.    Der Glaube in der palästinischen Synagoge

Kap. 2.   Akibas Glaube

Kap. 3.   Der Glaube in der griechischen Synagoge

Kap. 4.   Der Glaube des Täufers

Kap. 5.   Die Worte jesu über den Glauben in den älteren Evangelien

Kap. 6.   Jesus und der Glaube nach Johannes

Kap. 7.   Die Einheit der beiden evangelischen Berichte

Kap. 8.   Die Gemeinde der Glaubenden

Kap. 9.   Der Glaube bei Paulus

Kap. 10. Die Apostel der Kirche von Jerusalem

1.         Jakobus

2.         Petrus

3.         Matthäus

Kap. 11. Johannes

Kap. 12. Der Hebräerbrief

Kap.13.  Die Ergebnisse des apostolischen Glaubens


  1. Das hebräische und aramäische האמין und seine Verwandten
  2. πίστις bei Polybius
  3. πίστις in der griechischen Bibel
  4. πίστις bei Philo
  5. Die Parallelen zu den neutestamentlichen Worten bei Josefus
  6. Der Sprachgebrauch der älteren Evangelien
  7. Der Sprachgebrauch des johanneischen Evangeliums
  8. Der Sprachgebrauch der Gemeinde
  9. Der Schriftbeweis für den Glauben bei den palästinischen Lehrern
  10. ἀκοή und ὑπακοὴ πίστεως
  11. ἀναλογία τῆς πίστεως, Röm. 12, 6
  12. ὑπόστασις, Hebr 11,1



Akiba R. Aqiva (ca. 40-135, supporter of Bar Kochba as the Messiah, tortured and martyred at Caesarea after the second revolt against Rome)

der Bericht report

Die Einheit unity

Das Ergibnis –se result

die Erläuterungen citations, commentaries, illustrations

die Gemeinde community

der Glaube faith

der Glaubende believer

das Glauben (inf.) believing, faith

die Inhaltsübersicht contents

die Kirche church

der Lehrer teacher

der Schriftbeweis the literary evidence

der Beweis, evidence

Der Sprachgebrauch, linguistic usage, vocabulary

der Täufer the Baptist

das Wort word

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