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.