Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Starting to learn German for NT studies

I’ve often been asked about German language learning and NT studies, and the superb and detailed posts of Wayne Coppins (e.g., here) will be extremely helpful to read through. Here is my short list of advice:
  1. Get  a basic grasp of German grammar and vocab, if possible as part of a visit to Germany. I benefited greatly from the Sprachinstitut in Tübingen. But other basic level texts are always worth perusing, as is the Michael Thomas audio set. Use mnemonics, anything to boost your confidence and keep you motivated.
  2. When you start to read German with a dictionary to hand, don’t jump into Barth, Balthasar, Hegel or Heidegger. Unless you like the feeling of defeat.
  3. For a dictionary-in-hand start, I always recommend Udo Schnelle’s book, Paulus, which is not only v clearly written, but also profoundly educational and very German in its approach.
  4. Also trying a book in a non-theology related topic that you enjoy is helpful at this stage. I like chess, so I worked through Volkhard Igney’s Erfolgreich Kombinieren: Schachtaktik und Schachkombinationen.
  5. Watch movies you enjoy and have seen before, but with German audio. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Blade Meets Bambi and The Matrix in German!
  6. Don’t expect perfection! I lived in Germany for 6 years. My wife and I speak German every day – even if not as much as we used to, now we live in London, UK. But I can still make silly mistakes; I still need to reread some sentences to get it (especially if Balthahsar wrote them. He is to German what the Letter of Hebrews is to NT Greek!)
  7. Read and even memorise favourite bible passages from a modern German Bible, like the Hoffnung für alle, not the Elberfelder or Luther.
  8. This leads me to my final and best piece of advice: Marry a German!
And please see Dr Scott Caulley's advice in the comments for some excellent suggestions. He was the Director of the Institute for the Study of Christian Origins in Tübingen from 2002 to 2010 and knows what he is talking about!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Beyond Old and New Perspectives on Paul

Quite a line up of excellent scholars in my forthcoming edited volume. Very excited about this as it is something truly at a cutting edge of Pauline scholarly discussion, and one with ramifications that go far and wide. I will let you all know when it is available to purchase, or at least pre-order. Won’t be long now!

CASCADE_Template“Campbell’s work is undoubtedly one of the most important ‘game-changing’ contributions to New Testament scholarship in recent times. But as these excellent essays show clearly, its significance extends far beyond the biblical guild, for Campbell is provoking us to rethink some of the most profound and far-reaching issues facing the church today. He deserves to be far more widely known, and this collection will doubtless further that end.”

—Jeremy Begbie, Duke University, North Carolina


“Douglas Campbell . . . has generated a conversation that crosses all theological disciplines—exegetical, historical, systematic, ethical/political. That conversation, on full and brilliant display here, is contending for nothing less than the gospel of Jesus Christ. The issues matter profoundly. These essays, by Campbell and by those who would support, correct, and criticize his work, also matter. No arcane Paul scholarship here . . . essential reading for every theologian.”

—Douglas Harink, The King’s University College, Canada


“Douglas Campbell is a force to be reckoned with in Pauline studies. His work can be delightfully illuminating, horribly confusing, and absolutely frustrating—sometimes all in the same paragraph. These insightful essays by some of Campbell’s supporters and critics, as well as by Campbell himself, will help readers better engage Campbell and, I think, also Paul.”

—Michael J. Gorman, St. Mary’s Seminary & University, Maryland


“Douglas Campbell’s groundbreaking interpretation of Paul deserves a wide audience and continuing discussion, and this book is an exemplary model of gracious, critical, and appreciative conversation on matters of crucial importance to all who care about the Apostle Paul’s liberating good news.”

—Susan Eastman, Duke Divinity School, North Carolina