Friday, April 17, 2009

Käsemann on harmonisation

Ever feel the urge to harmonise apparently contradictory biblical 'voices'? Tempted to level out various New Testament teachings that seem in tension?

Käsemann, ever the polemicist, writes:

'Every simplification which forces the original variety of voices [of the biblical text] into a well trodden path, is sin against the Spirit'!

(from his essay "Justification and salvation-history in Romans" in Pauline Perspectives – my translation from the German original, p. 118)

Honestly, this guy entertains even if he seems a bit nuts sometimes.


At 4/17/2009 1:49 AM, Anonymous Jim said...

he's awesome!

At 4/17/2009 6:19 AM, Anonymous steph said...

I agree with Jim.

At 4/17/2009 1:48 PM, Anonymous Mark Stevens said...

He had a big influence on Uncle Tom! ;-) I do agree, he is good!

At 4/17/2009 11:15 PM, Anonymous Arni Zachariassen said...

Awesome quote!

At 4/17/2009 11:38 PM, Anonymous Mike Koke said...

Thanks Chris for the quote. I don't understand why Christians get so worried about the diversity pointed out by scholars (e.g. Ehrmann) - seems to be that Jesus is too big a God for any group to have the full picture (hence 4 gospels, not 1). By the way, I have been a fan of your blog for a long time, though never had the guts to comment on blogs or blog myself (

At 4/18/2009 5:09 AM, Anonymous steph said...

Plus Ernst has the same birthday as me.

Mark: so he'd like us to think. It doesn't show... :-)

At 4/18/2009 7:23 PM, Anonymous Robin Parry said...

Of course there are different kinds of diversity. All thinking Christians are all for diversity.

But there are different kinds of diversity.

The kind that causes theological problems is the kind of diversity which looks like contradictory and irreconcilable theological claims.

And I confess that my traditional Christian instincts do still hunt for ways of reconciling such things. It is not that I cannot accept that the Bible might contain such things - perhaps it does. But a priori my instinct is to presume that some kind of harminisation is possible.

(And do remember that harminisation is not the same as saying that two texts are really saying the same thing)

At 4/18/2009 7:24 PM, Anonymous Robin Parry said...

Ouch - reading what I just wrote I see that it was very inelegantly expressed. Oh well.

At 4/19/2009 12:59 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thanks for comments, folks.

Hi Robin,
"there are different kinds of diversity", yea, right, which is why I think Käsemann is a bit overboard here.

At 4/19/2009 10:44 AM, Anonymous steph said...

And as a(n) historian he is far from overboard!

At 4/19/2009 2:03 PM, Anonymous dan said...

According to Moltmann, Käsemann had adopted an old pirate slogan -- "Friends of God and enemies of the rest of the world" -- and used it as his own. That's got to add something to the 'nuts but entertaining' perspective.

At 4/25/2009 5:34 AM, Anonymous John Hobbins said...

Käsemann rocks. Especially in German. I wish I had the German of the quote to work with.


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