Saturday, January 15, 2011

Radikale Theologie and the giftedness of gitiness

I’ve just discovered the work of Ingolf Dalferth which, if you can read German, comes highly recommended. I am presently working my way through his intelligent little volume, Radikale Theologie, and am learning much.

But, as Isaac Newton put it, the ‘innate force of matter is a power of resisting’. My innate force or inertia is, tonight, being a grumpy git ... so I’m gonna have a rant.

During a recent stay in Tübingen I browsed through some books shops, and looked closely at various new German NT titles on Jesus and Paul. What struck me was regrettable: there was limited engagement with important English language scholarship apart from one or two references to Dunn, Sanders and perhaps one or two others. One book examined Jesus as a Cynic, yet failed to engage with any major critical works by the likes of Allison, Wright etc. A few German books have started to appear for a more general readership on the ‘New Perspective’ on Paul (NPP), which is welcome, but they were not up to speed with the most recent developments. Indeed, it seems that there is a growing awareness of crucial themes in the NPP in Germany (beyond the older – and helpful – defensive works by the likes of Stuhlmacher) just as, arguably, we are entering a ‘beyond the NPP’ phase in English language scholarship, thanks to the brilliance of the likes of Campbell.

Once upon a time Germany was leading the way in NT studies (and, yes, still are in football over the Brits, damn it), so why this (sadly not infrequent) blindness to important English language scholarship? I am glad that there are younger German scholars such as Volker Rabens, André Munzinger, etc. who know the most important scholarship, irrespective of the language in which it is written, but why do I read so many new German NT books which don’t peep beyond the Rhine and beyond? If much (though gladly not all) German NT scholarship remains inward looking, it will ultimately be ignored in terms of wider cutting edge debates. If they are ignored, this will be to the loss of everyone involved.

Incidentally, Dalferth is a glowing example of engagement with all manner of scholarship, whether it be French, English-language or German.


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