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1.0 History of Old Testament Theology


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Title: 1.0 History of Old Testament Theology

1.0 History of Old Testament Theology
  • BIB566/THE566 Old Testament Theology

1.1 Introduction
1.1.1 Difficulties in Approaching O.T. Studies
  • Historical barriers
  • Literary barriers
  • Theological/Hermeneutical barriers
  • General unfamiliarity with the O.T.
  • Scholarly barriers
  • House, Paul R., Old Testament Theology

1.1.2 Five Possible Starting Points
  • The Old Testament itself
  • Intra-Testamental Michael A. Fishbane, Biblical
    Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford
    Clarendon, 1985).
  • Version Analysis LXX, Qumran, Samaritan
    Pent., MT, etc.

1.1.2 Five Possible Starting Points
  • New Testament
  • Early church fathers, medieval
    interpreters and leaders of the Reformation . . .
    John Calvin and Martin Luther
  • Brevard S. Childs, Biblical Theology of the Old
    and New Testaments Theological Reflections on
    the Christian Bible (Minneapolis Fortress,
    1992), pp. 30-51.
  • N.B. Brueggemann, Walter. Theology of the Old
    Testament Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy.Minneapoli
    s Fortress Press, 1997.

1.1.2 Five Possible Starting Points
  • Rabbinic scholars
  • See John H. Hayes and Frederick C. Prussner, Old
    Testament Theology Its History and Development
    (Atlanta John Knox, 1985).

1.2 Reformers Protestant Orthodoxy (1550-1650)
1.2.1 Reformers
  • "While the Bible has been read theologically
    since its formation, biblical theology as a
    discipline has its roots in the Protestant
    Reformation. The Reformers' emphasis on Scripture
    as the sole source and norm for all matters of
    faith provided the soil from which biblical
    theology sprang. While the term itself was not
    used by the Reformers to designate a distinct
    discipline, it is clear that for them biblical
    theology meant a systematic theology which was
    biblical in character, that is, for which the
    Bible was the primary, if not the sole, source
    and norm. Insofar as the Reformers
    self-consciously sought to differentiate their
    theology from Roman Catholic dogma, in which
    tradition played a major role, one may note a

1.2.1 Reformers
  • dimension in the birth of biblical theology. One
    could go on to observe that while the target of
    the polemic changed periodically, the polemic
    dimension has been a constant feature of biblical
    theology throughout its history, in the sense
    that it had to fight repeatedly for an unbiased
    hearing of the theological witness of Scripture."
  • Lemke, Werner E., "Theology (Old Testament),"
    The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Freedman, David
    Noel, ed., (New York Doubleday) 1997, 1992

1.2.1 Reformers
  • "The Protestant principle of "sola scriptura,"
    which became the battle cry of the Reformation
    against scholastic theology and ecclesiastical
    tradition, provides with its call for the
    self-interpretation of Scripture (sui ipsius
    interpres) the source for the subsequent
    development of Biblical theology. The Reformers
    did not create the phrase "Biblical theology" nor
    did they engage in Biblical theology as a
    discipline as subsequently understood. . . .

1.2.1 Reformers
  • Luther's hermeneutic of "sola scriptura" and his
    principle "was Christum treibet" together with
    the "letter-spirit" dualism prevented him from
    developing a Biblical theology. . . . "
  • Hasel, Old Testament Theology

1.2.2 Protestant Orthodoxy
  • While the Reformers in their use of
    Scripture introduced a creative tension between
    the Bible and dogmatic theology, the opposite was
    true of the proponents of Protestant orthodoxy
    who followed them. In their hands the Bible
    became subservient to Protestant dogmatics, which
    determined the selection, order, and treatment of
    biblical passages. The Bible came to be viewed as
    a uniform sourcebook of quotations whose primary
    task was to support the dogmas of Protestant
    orthodoxy against the dogmas of Roman
    Catholicism. No distinctions were made in regard
    to time, authorship, historical context,
    compositional purpose, or distinctive theological
    perspectives of the biblical documents. The
    system of arranging biblical data was the
    traditional loci method known from medieval
    scholasticism. That is, various Scripture texts
    would be listed and briefly

1.2.2 Protestant Orthodoxy
  • commented upon under the topical rubrics drawn
    from dogmatic theology. The understanding of
    biblical theology reflected in Protestant
    orthodoxy may be characterized as "dogmatic
    biblicism" or proof-texting (dicta probantia).
    Early in the 17th century, the actual words
    "biblical theology" began to appear in the title
    of works of this kind. As far as we know, the
    first work to use such a title was W. J.
    Christmann's Teutsche Biblische Theologie
    published in 1629. While many other works of this
    nature were published subsequently, a significant
    shift in the understanding of biblical theology
    began to take place during the second half of the
    17th century, thus ushering in a new era in the
    history of the discipline."
  • Lemke, "Theology (Old Testament)," ABD

1.2.2 Protestant Orthodoxy
  • "Proof-texts" - dicta probantia -
    collegia biblica
  • "Emerging, as it did, as a child of Protestant
    Scholasticism, its basic presuppositions
    reflected the peculiarities of the parent system
    of thought. It began with the belief that the
    church dogmas contained the correct
    interpretation of the Christian religion. These,
    in turn, were deemed to be sacrosanct, true for
    all time, and unchangeable. Their authority lay
    especially in the fact that the Scripture,
    constituting the literal Word of God, was
    considered to give them a supernatural approval."

15 "Proof-texts"
  • ". . . the Bible was regarded as uniformly
    authoritative and that any notions of the
    dissimilarity between the Old and New Testaments
    were completely nonexistent."
  • "Old Testament theology thus described may be
    taken to mean the use of Israels canonical
    writings for the purpose of demonstrating the
    soundness of Protestant doctrine on the basis of
    certain passages selected for their suitability
    as proof-texts. Since all of Scripture was deemed
    to be of equal value, such passages could and
    were chosen from all sections of the Old
    Testament, the only requirement being that the
    texts could be interpreted to agree with whatever
    doctrine was being considered."

16 "Proof-texts"
  • "Under these circumstances, the method of
    discussion was an extremely simple one, involving
    only three steps. It began with the authoritative
    definition and elucidation of an individual
    doctrine. It then moved on to choose passages
    from the Old Testament which might be thought to
    support that formulation. Finally, it entailed
    the detailed exposition of those texts in order
    to show how they actually did provide such

17 "Proof-texts"
  • "The order of the subject matter came bodily from
    the doctrinal systems themselves. In this respect
    Schmidt was only following the practice current
    among the Protestant theologians of his day."
  • Hayes Prussner, Old Testament Theology it
    history development

1.3 Emancipation from Dogmatics (1650-1800)
1.3.1 Introduction
  • "The more attentively Scripture was read
    and studied during the course of the 17th
    century, the more it became apparent that the
    biblical documents did not really contain a
    theological system of doctrines at all. Rather,
    Scripture was cast into the form of a historical
    narrative. It told the story of God's unfolding
    relationship with humanity through a sequence of
    temporal events (oeconomia temporum)."
  • Lemke, "Theology (Old Testament)," ABD

1.3.2 Pietism Enlightenment
  • Pietism
  • "The shift from a dogmatic to a more historically
    oriented approach to biblical theology
    accelerated during the course of the 18th
    century. Of particular importance in this
    development were two cultural movements of the
    18th century German Pietism and the
    Enlightenment. Pietism was a revolt within the
    German Church against Protestant scholasticism,
    which it considered to be excessively preoccupied
    with dogmatic speculations and arid abstractions.
    Whereas Protestant orthodoxy tended to equate the
    Christian faith with intellectual assent to sound
    doctrine, Pietism stressed personal experience
    and awareness of the presence of God, as

21 Pietism
  • nourished through a life of prayer, personal
    devotion, Bible reading, and moral living.
    Pietism's emphasis on the reading and study of
    Scripture by all brought about a greater
    familiarity with the contents of the Bible. It
    also brought about an increasing awareness of the
    differences between biblical and dogmatic
  • Lemke, "Theology (Old Testament)," ABD

22 Pietism
  • "The back-to-the-Bible emphasis of German Pietism
    brought about a changing direction for Biblical
    theology. In Pietism Biblical theology became a
    tool in the reaction against arid Protestant
    Orthodoxy. Philipp Jacob Spener (1635-1705), a
    founding father of Pietism, opposed Protestant
    scholasticism with Biblical theology. The
    influence of Pietism is reflected in the works of
    Carl Haymann (1708), J. Deutschmann (1710), and
    J. C. Weidner (1722), which oppose orthodox
    systems of doctrine with "Biblical theology."

23 Pietism
  • "As early as 1745 Biblical theology is clearly
    separated from dogmatic (systematic) theology and
    the former is conceived of as being the
    foundation of the latter. This means that
    Biblical theology is emancipated from a role
    merely subsidiary to dogmatics. Inherent in this
    new development is the possibility that Biblical
    theology can become the rival of dogmatics and
    turn into a completely separate and independent
    discipline. These possibilities realized
    themselves under the influence of rationalism in
    the age of Enlightenment."
  • Hasel, Old Testament Theology

  • Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night God
    said, Let Newton be! and all was light!
  • Alexander Pope

25 Enlightenment
  • "The increasing differentiation of biblical
    theology from dogmatic theology was also greatly
    aided by the Enlightenment which swept across
    Europe during the 18th century. Rationalism's
    aversion to dogmatic religion, its belief in the
    powers of the human intellect to ascertain truth
    through observation and inductive reasoning, as
    well as its belief in the existence of universal
    natural religion which was in conformity with the
    demands of reason, exerted a powerful influence
    on biblical studies and widened the gulf between
    biblical and dogmatic theology. Increasingly the
    Bible came to be subjected to the same kind of
    critical and rational study as any other human
    document of antiquity."
  • Lemke, "Theology (Old Testament)," ABD

26 Enlightenment
  • "In the age of Enlightenment (Aufklärung) a
    totally new approach for the study of the Bible
    was developed under several influences. First and
    foremost was rationalisms reaction against any
    form of supernaturalism. Human reason was set up
    as the final criterion and chief source of
    knowledge, which meant that the authority of the
    Bible as the infallible record of divine
    revelation was rejected. The second major
    contribution of the period of the Enlightenment
    was the development of a new hermeneutic, the
    historical-critical methods which holds sway to
    the present day in liberalism and beyond. Third,
    there is the application of radical literary
    criticism to the Bible by J. B. Witter, J.
    Astruc, and others. Finally, rationalism by its
    very nature was led to abandon the orthodox view
    of the inspiration of the Bible so that
    ultimately the Bible became simply one of the
    ancient documents, to be studied as any other
    ancient document."
  • Hasel, Old Testament Theology

27 Enlightenment
  • Enlightenment as it Impinged on Christian
  • Historical Science matured which produced a
    by-product of historical skepticism
  • Literary Criticism was the subject ot intense
  • The enthronement of reason
  • Sciences, i.e., physics, astronomy, etc.
  • General religious skepticism
  • Period of toleration
  • Humanitarianism

28 Enlightenment
  • Omnicompetence of Criticism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Pervasive Moralism

1.3.3 Scholars
  • Johann Solomo Semler (1725-1791)
  • ". . . claimed that the Word of God and Holy
    Scripture are not at all identical. This implied
    that not all parts of the Bible were inspired and
    that the Bible is a purely historical document
    which as any other such document is to be
    investigated with a purely historical and thus
    critical methodology. As a result Biblical
    theology can be nothing else but a historical
    discipline which stands in antithesis to
    traditional dogmatics." Hasel, Old Testament

1.3.3 Scholars
  • Gotthilf Traugott Zachariä (1729-1777)
  • Under the influence of the new orientation in
    dogmatics and hermeneutics he attempted to build
    a system of theological teachings based upon
    careful exegetical work. Each book of Scripture
    has its own time, place, and intention. But
    Zacharia held to the inspiration of the Bible, as
    did J. A. Ernesti (1707-l781) whose
    Biblical-exegetical method he followed.
    Historical exegesis and canonical understanding
    of Scripture do not collide in Zacharias thought
    because the historical aspect is a matter of
    secondary importance in theology. On this basis
    there is no need to distinguish between the
    Testaments they stand in reciprocal relationship
    to each other. Most basically Zacharias interest
    was still in the dogmatic system, which he wished
    to cleanse from impurities." Hasel, Old
    Testament Theology

31 Johann Philipp Gabler (1753-1826)
  • Gabler took the ideas that were present in the
    18th century and presented them in an orderly
  • "Concerning the Proper Distinction between
    Biblical and Dogmatic Theology and the
    Appropriate Definition of the Respective Goals of

32 Johann Philipp Gabler (1753-1826)
  • Biblical Theology Biblical theology is
    historical in character that is, it sets forth
    what the sacred writers thought about divine
  • Dogmatic Theology Dogmatic theology is didactic
    in character, teaching what a given theologian
    thinks about divine matters in accordance with
    his ability, his particular circumstances, age,
    locale, religious and intellectual tradition, and
    similar conditioning factors.

33 Johann Philipp Gabler (1753-1826)
  • Two phases or distinct tasks of biblical
  • True "The first task of biblical theology was to
    ascertain simply what the various biblical
    authors thought and asserted about divine matters
    in their various contexts. This was to be
    accomplished by means of a purely grammatical and
    historical exegesis. All allegorizing or
    spiritualizing was to be shunned. Care was to be
    exercised in differentiating the various ideas of
    biblical writers, not to blur differences but to
    arrange and compare these ideas in some suitable
    manner." Lemke, "Theology (Old Testament)," ABD

34 Johann Philipp Gabler (1753-1826)
  • Pure "The second task of biblical theology was
    to sift these various biblical concepts and
    assertions in terms of their universal and
    abiding value and to deduce some general concepts
    and ideas from these which could serve as a basis
    for the construction of a dogmatic theology."
  • Lemke, "Theology (Old Testament)," ABD

35 Johann Philipp Gabler (1753-1826)
  • "One possible implication of Gabler's proposal is
    that the Old Testament occupies a lower rung on
    the ladder of reason than does the New after
    all, it is from an earlier ear. Georg Lorenz
    Bauer was the first to draw this implication . .
    . ."
  • Ollenburger, "From Timeless Ideas to the Essence
    of Religion," in The Flowering of Old Testament
    Theology A Reader in Twentieth-Century Old
    Testament Theology, 1930-1990

36 Johann Philipp Gabler (1753-1826)
  • A three-stage approach to examining biblical
  • First, interpreters must gather data on "each of
    the periods in the Old and New Testaments, each
    of the authors, and each of the manners of
    speaking which each used as a reflection of time
    and place."
  • Second, having gathered this historical material
    theologians must undertake "a careful and sober
    comparison of the various parts attributed to
    each testament." Biblical authors ideas should
    be compared until "it is clearly revealed wherein
    the separate authors agree in a friendly fashion,
    or differ among themselves."

37 Johann Philipp Gabler (1753-1826)
  • "Third, the agreements and disagreements must be
    duly noted and analyzed in order to determine
    what universal notions emerge. Gabler offers no
    specific criteria for determining what
    constitutes universal notions except to cite
    "Mosaic law" as one example of what no longer
    applies to Christians. He simply distinguished
    between that which applied to the authors times
    alone and that which has more long-term value."
  • House, Old Testament Theology

38 Johann Philipp Gabler (1753-1826)
  • "Underlying Gablers approach was a rationalistic
    view of the inspiration and reliability of
    Scripture. For him, only eliminating the
    temporary, human, nonuniversal elements of
    Scriptures teachings can produce ideas that are
    truly inspired and valuable for church dogmatics.
    Even an appeal to passages on the Bibles
    inspiration does not help determine the extent of
    the Bibles inspiration, since "these individual
    passages are very obscure and ambiguous."
    Therefore those who "wish to deal with these
    things with reason and not with fear or bias"
    must not "press those meanings of the Apostles
    beyond their just limits, especially since only
    the effects of their inspiration and not their
    causes, are perceived by the senses."

39 Johann Philipp Gabler (1753-1826)
  • Strength "Its chief strength is the insistence
    on the value of biblical theology."
  • Weaknesses
  • "First, his insistence on rationalism and its
    refusal to discuss what lies beyond the human
    senses eliminates much of Scripture from serious
    theological consideration."
  • "Second, despite his program for incorporating
    biblical and systematic theology, Gablers
    theories open the door for a negative separation
    of Old and New Testament theology."

40 Johann Philipp Gabler (1753-1826)
  • "Third, a cleavage is created between the
    academic study of theology and the churchs
    teaching of doctrine."
  • House, Old Testament Theology

41 Johann Philipp Gabler (1753-1826)
  • Hayes, John H. and Frederick Prussner, Old
    Testament Theology its history development,
    (Atlanta John Knox Press, 1985), 62-66.
  • Knierim, Rolf P., "On Gabler," in The Task of Old
    Testament Theology Method and Cases (Grand
    Rapids William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,
    1995), 495-556.
  • Ollenburger, Ben C., "Biblical Theology
    Situating the Discipline," in Understanding the
    Word Essays in Honor of Bernhard W. Anderson,
    eds. James T. Butler, Edger W. Conrad and Ben C.
    Ollenburger, (Sheffield JSOT Press, 1985),
  • _____, "From Timeless Ideas to the Essence of
    Religion," in The Flowering of Old Testament
    Theology A Reader in Twentieth-Century Old
    Testament Theology, 1930-1990, (Winona Lake,
    Indiana Eisenbrauns, 1992)
  • Sandys-Wunsch, John and Laurence Elbredge, "J. P.
    Gabler and the Distinction between Biblical and
    Dogmatic Theology Translation, Commentary, and
    Discussion of his Originality," Scottish Journal
    of Theology 33 (1980), 133-158.

1.4 Influence of Rationalism (1750-1875)
1.4.1 Initial effects of Rationalism
  • "Initially rationalism, along with Pietism, had
    been a constructive force in emancipating
    biblical theology from the stranglehold of
    dogmatic theology and in establishing it as a
    distinct theological discipline in its own right.
    Many 18th-century biblical theologians combined
    both currents in their life and their
    scholarship. That is, they were both devout
    believers as well as rationalists, and this was
    reflected in their scholarly work on the Bible.
    But toward the latter part of the 18th and
    especially during the first half of the 19th
    century, these two currents more often than not
    stood in opposition to each other, as rationalism
    became the more powerful of the two.
    Increasingly, rationalist philosophy penetrated
    biblical theology and for a time forced it into a
    philosophical straitjacket which threatened to
    become as rigid as the older religious dogmatism
    had been. The Bible was now understood in terms
    of an evolutionary religious process leading from

1.4.1 Initial effects of Rationalism
  • lower forms of religion to the absolute or
    universal religion. The latter was usually
    defined as a religion of reason (deism) or
    morality (Kant). Representative of this kind of
    19th-century biblical theology were the works of
    G. L. Bauer, C. F. von Ammon, and G. P. C.
    Kaiser. Only those teachings of Scripture which
    were in accord with reason, or the universal
    religion as established by reason, were of
    abiding value. Everything else was to be
    discarded as the outgrown ideas and practices of
    a particular culture or period in history.
    Concomitant with such a rationalistic approach to
    biblical theology was an increasing devaluation
    of the OT as the record of an inferior stage in
    the religious development of the human race, and
    hence less suitable than the NT for the
    construction of a biblical theology." Lemke,
    "Theology (Old Testament)," ABD

1.4.2 Rationalist Scholars
  • Christopher Friedrich von Ammon ". . . framework
    of Immanuel Kant's moral philosophy, and
    specifically of "Kantian hermeneutics"
  • Gottlieb Philipp Christian Kaiser "He subsumed
    the Old Testament under the universal history of
    religion, and then ultimately under the
    universal religion. The particularity of Old
    Testament religion, which Kaiser refers to as
    Judaism, can only be understood in relation to
    religion in general."
  • Ollenburger, "From Timeless Ideas to the Essence
    of Religion," in The Flowering of Old Testament
    Theology A Reader in Twentieth-Century Old
    Testament Theology, 1930-1990

1.4.2 Rationalist Scholars
  • Bauer the Division of OT and NT Theology
  • "Another important development during this period
    was the division of biblical theology into the
    separate disciplines of OT and NT theology, a
    practice which has become customary down to the
    present day. Several reasons may be cited for
    this development. One was undoubtedly the
    increasing recognition of the diversity of
    Scripture, especially the distinct differences in
    content, historical context, and outlook between
    the testaments, which made it more difficult to
    treat them as homogenous documents. Another
    reason was the sheer increase in data and new
    discoveries pertaining to the Bible, which made
    it more difficult for anyone to master the entire
    field of biblical studies. Thus specialization
    became a necessity. But thirdly, it must also be
    said that the rationalistic

1.4.2 Rationalist Scholars
  • devaluation of the OT in favor of the NT
    undoubtedly contributed to this bifurcation in
    biblical theology. At any rate, the work that
    marked the beginning of this division of the
    discipline, and thus the beginning of OT theology
    proper, was G. L. Bauer's OT theology published
    in 1797. " Lemke, "Theology (Old Testament),"
  • ". . . the task of OT theology was to trace the
    religious ideas of the Hebrews in their
    historical development and against the background
    of other ANE religions with whom the Hebrews came
    into contact. Already the influence of
    comparative religion was beginning to make itself
    felt here in this first OT theology. Bauer's
    rationalistic orientation manifested itself in
    the manner in which he judged the religious
    content of the OT. Miraculous and mythological
    elements in the Bible were dismissed by him as
    superstitions of a primitive race."

1.4.2 Rationalist Scholars
  • "(1) For Bauer, Old Testament theology focused
    primarily on religious ideas or concepts. (2) He
    claimed that historical interpretation must trace
    the development of those ideas and interpret them
    in independence from dogmatic theology's
    definitions. Only in that way would Old Testament
    (and then New Testament) theology be able to
    reform dogmatics. (3) In the course of their
    development, in the Old Testament as in history
    generally, ideas move from particular to
    universal, and it is these universal religious
    ideas that are most important for the present.
    Bauer says that in the Old Testament these
    universal ideas are to be found principally in
    Proverbs and Job, because their authors are the
    least concerned with particulars with their own
    time, their own people, their own situation."
    Ollenburger, "From Timeless Ideas to the Essence
    of Religion"

1.4.3 Summary of Gabler Bauer's Influence
  • 1. Gabler and Bauer basically create the
    discipline of Old Testament theology. They argue
    that the Old and New Testaments deserve to be
    heard on their own terms before their ideas are
    incorporated into dogmatic theology.
  • 2. Both Gabler and Bauer believe Old Testament
    theology must have a strongly historical
    component. Unfortunately this historical
    component is based on a rationalism that leaves
    little room for the supernatural. It also
    questions a great deal of material that is
    suspect only to keen rationalists.

1.4.3 Summary of Gabler Bauer's Influence
  • 3. Gabler and Bauer argue that the Old Testament
    teaches some universal truths applicable to
    Christians in all eras. To find these concepts,
    however, both men eliminate much of the Old
    Testament as being due to the authors "own
    ingenuity." This approach questions the general
    value of the Old Testament and leaves it with
    little to say that the New Testament does not

1.4.3 Summary of Gabler Bauer's Influence
  • 4. Gabler never writes an Old Testament theology,
    but in his work Bauer divides the biblical
    material into the study of God, humankind and

1.4.4 Continued Rationalism
  • Wilhelm Martin Leberecht de Wette
  • "Though he shared the rationalists conclusion
    about the Bibles depictions of miracles,
    prophecies and so forth, he thought the
    rationalists dismissal of such accounts
    wrongheaded. Rather, de Wette argues, myths are
    poetic means of expressing feelings about God and
    all sacred things. Many ancient peoples thought
    and wrote in such terms, so it is not unusual
    that Israel did so as well. Thus Old Testament
    theologians must seek to understand the feelings
    and universal truths behind the myths, not simply
    discard them as fantasies penned by irrational or
    primitive people." House, Old Testament Theology

1.4.4 Continued Rationalism
  • Wilhelm Vatke
  • "Wilhelm Vatke (1806-1882) regarded the
    rationalistic period of Biblical theology as a
    necessary but now superseded development. He was
    the first to adopt the Hegelian philosophy of
    thesis (nature religion), antithesis (spiritual
    religion Hebrew religion), and synthesis
    (absolute or universal religion Christianity),
    in his Die biblische Theologie. Die Religion des
    AT (Berlin, 1835). He claimed that the system for
    the arrangement of the OT material must not be
    set forth on the basis of categories derived from
    the Bible but must be imposed from the outside,
    and formulated the dogma of the
    history-of-religion approach concerning the
    independent totality of the OT. Three years
    after the publication of Vatkes

1.4.4 Continued Rationalism
  • tome, which later had great influence on J.
    Wellhausen, a second history-of-religions OT
    theology based on Hegelianism was published by
    Bruno Bauer (1809-1882), who arrived at opposite
    conclusions from his teacher Vatke." Hasel, Old
    Testament Theology
  • "By the time Vatkes work was published and read,
    a perceptible dogmaticism had settled into the
    liberal ranks of Old Testament theology. First,
    the Old Testaments historical statements were
    clearly suspect. Stated authorship of books,
    accounts of the miraculous and description of
    historical events were all challenged and often
    denied. Second, the Old Testament was at worst a
    slight contributor to legitimate biblical
    theology and was at best a legitimate source of
    universal ideas and inspired religious feelings.
    Third, it was unlikely, then, that the

1.4.4 Continued Rationalism
  • unity of the Bible could be maintained.
    Evolutionary views of history made it much more
    likely that the Old Testament was a lower
    religious state that had to be completed for the
    New Testament to emerge. Challenges to these
    assertions were soon to come, but they were not
    to have the lasting force their authors desired."
    House, Old Testament Theology

1.4.5 Reactions Against Rationalism
  • "However, in response to the excesses of vulgar
    rationalism, a conservative reaction took place
    around the middle of the 18th century, leading to
    the writing of OT theologies along more orthodox
    lines. Representative of this development were
    scholars like E. W. Hengstenberg and F.
    Delitzsch. Other OT theologians of this period,
    like H. Ewald, G. F. Oehler, and E. Schultz, took
    a more moderate or mediating position somewhere
    between the rationalists and the orthodox
    Lutherans. Of these, the OT theology by Oehler,
    published posthumously in two volumes (1873-74)
    and written from a heilsgeschichtliche
    perspective, was a particularly influential work.
    It was also the first of the major German OT
    theologies to be translated into English shortly
    after its original publication." Lemke

1.4.5 Reactions Against Rationalism
  • Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg (1802-69)
  • Christology of the Old Testament and a Commentary
    on the Messianic Predictions
  • History of the Kingdom of God in the Old
  • G. F. Oehler
  • Oehler reacted both against the Marcionite strain
    introduced by F. Schleiermacher with the
    depreciation of the OT and the total uniformity
    of OT and NT as maintained by Hengstenberg. But
    he himself does not give up the unity of the
    Testaments. There is unity in diversity. Oehler
    accepts the division of OT and NT theology, but
    OT theology can function properly only within the

1.4.5 Reactions Against Rationalism
  • canonical context. OT theology is a "historical
    science which is based upon grammatical-historical
    exegesis whose task it is to reproduce the
    content of the Biblical writings according to the
    rules of language under consideration of the
    historical circumstances during which the
    writings ooriginated and the individual
    conditions of the sacred writers." Hasel, Old
    Testament Theology
  • "Oehlers OT theology is considered to be "the
    outstanding salvation-historical presentation of
    Biblical theology of the 19th century." However,
    it is "today almost completely outmoded, largely
    because Oehler attempted to deal with the
    material genetically" under the influence of

1.4.5 Reactions Against Rationalism
  • Henrich Ewald (1803-1875)
  • "Just before OT theology was eclipsed by the
    history-of-religions approach, which dealt it a
    virtual deathblow, Henrich Ewalds four-volume
    monumental magnum opus was published. For a whole
    generation Ewalds conservative influence held
    back German scholarship from accepting the
    modernistic reconstruction of Israelite religion
    as popularized by Wellhausen. Ewalds students
    Ferdinand Hitzig (1807-1875) and August Dillmann
    (1823-1894) wrote OT theologies which were
    posthumously published. Ewald defended a
    systematic treatment of his subject Hitzig wrote
    a history of ideas and Dillmann a history of
    revelation with salvation-historical emphases."
    Hasel, Old Testament Theology

1.4.5 Reactions Against Rationalism
  • J. Ch. Konrad von Hofmann (1810-1877)
  • According to Hofmann, the necessary
    presupposition of Christian self-certainty
    (communion with God mediated in Christ) is a
    relation within the Trinity, among the Father,
    Son, and Spirit, that involves both unity and
    differentiation-or objectification. All of
    history, from the worlds creation to its
    consummation, is a historical manifestation of
    the divine self-differentiation (1852-56 136,
    234). Within universal history there occurs
    salvation history, a set of events that achieves
    the Sons reconciliation with the Father and
    humankinds reconciliation with God. Salvation
    history is the meaning of universal history, and
    each of its discrete events, narrated in the
    Bible, occupies its own necessary place. Thus,
    the whole of salvation history is the essential
    framework for understanding any particular text.

1.4.5 Reactions Against Rationalism
  • In Hofmanns theology, then, there is a perfect
    symmetry among (a) that of which Christians are
    certain, (b) the presuppositions of that
    certainty spelled out by systematic theology, and
    (c) the salvation history narrated in the Bible.
    The historical form of the Bible is not
    accidental it is necessarily analogous to Gods
    trinitarian history, which expands and unfolds
    itself into the worlds history and then
    Israels. For Hofmann, biblical theology is
    thinking in our relation to God, not about it
    hence, its relaltion to systematic theology is
    organic, not something to be considered
    separately. No one before or after Hofmann
    achieved such a thorough integration of
    historical interpretation of the Bible and
    systematic theology. Whether he brought Gablers
    programmatic distinctions to fruition, or simply
    betrayed them, is a matter of judgment." Ben C.
    Ollenburger, "From Timeless Ideas to the Essence
    of Religion,"12-13

1.5 OT Theology Eclipsed by the History of
Israelite Religion (1875-1930)
1.5.1 History of Israelite Religion
  • Three Factors
  • Greater historical consciousness
  • Archeological discoveries of Mesopotamia, Egypt,
    Ugarit, Greece, etc.
  • The literary critical works of Vatke, Graf,
    Kuenen, and above all Wellhausen.

1.5.1 History of Israelite Religion
  • "The history-of-religion approach differentiated
    itself from OT theology as traditionally
    conceived by the following characteristics (1)
    an exclusive reliance on a historical-genetic,
    rather than a systematic-conceptual, approach to
    the OT (2) a concomitant de-emphasis on the OT
    as special revelation, in favor of seeing it as a
    historical and human record of the evolution of
    Israelite religion and (3) greater emphasis and
    attention to Israel's ANE environment.
    Increasingly, the OT was seen as an integral part
    of that environment and only one particular form
    of religious development among many." Lemke

1.5.2 Julius Wellhausen
  • "Wellhausen accepted de Wettes conclusion that
    Deuteronomy was written in the seventh century
    B.C. instead of by Moses. He agreed with Vatkes
    assertion that Israels religion evolved over
    time, which meant to him that complex priestly
    material like that found in Leviticus was written
    at the end of Israels history and that the
    Pentateuch was completed after the Prophets.
    Likewise, he agreed with Karl F. Graf, Abraham
    Kuenen and other scholars who thought the first
    four books of the Pentateuch consisted of written
    documents, or sources, that used different names
    for God and proclaimed differing theological
    views. He agreed that Vatkes views about
    Hegelian historical theories and de Wettes
    conceptions about myth were correct. To these
    notions Wellhausen added his own thoughts on the
    prophets as the founders of ethical monotheistic
    faith and on the origins of Israels religion in
    nature cults."

1.5.2 Julius Wellhausen
  • "The synthesis of all these beliefs began with
    the assumption that Israelite religion evolved
    from roots in nature religion similar to other
    ancient Canaanite religions, to ethical
    monotheism in the prophets and the early stages
    of the Pentateuch, to a stronger monotheism and
    insistence on a central sanctuary in Deuteronomy
    and books it influences (Joshua, Judges, 1-2
    Samuel, l-2 Kings, Jeremiah), to the detailed,
    priest-guided religion like that found in Ezra,
    Leviticus, Ezekiel and l-2 Chronicles. Unlike
    Vatke, who saw this evolution as positive,
    Wellhausen mourned the loss of the earlier,
    simpler religion. Like Vatke, Wellhausen
    considered much of the stated historical contexts
    in the Old Testament to be reflections of later
    generations transposed upon the past. To
    Wellhausen, Moses was at best a shadowy
    historical figure, and the patriarchs could not
    have been as advanced culturally as the Old
    Testament indicates. Prophetic monotheism
    eventually led to the Law, not the reverse as the
    Old Testament says." House

1.6 Rebirth of OT Theology (1930-1960)
1.6.1 Catalysts for Change
  • 1. World War I showed the moral depths to which
    human beings can sink.
  • 2. Karl Barth's emphasis on the revelation of God
    in Scripture
  • 3. Loss of faith in evolutionary naturalism
  • "The dominant hold which the history-of-religions
    approach had exercised over the discipline of OT
    theology began to wane during the period between
    the two world wars. Several factors helped bring
    this change about. Among them were the general
    change in theological climate following World War
    I, a reaction against the extremes of
    19th-century historicism and evolutionary
    developmentalism, and new developments in the
    field of OT scholarship itself." Lemke

1.6.2 Eissfeldt vs. Eichrodt Debate
  • "Eissfeldt, the historian, urged a sharp
    distinction between the history of Israelite (and
    Jewish) religion and Old Testament theology
    (1926). They employ two different approaches, he
    says, which correspond to different functions of
    the human spirit active knowing and passive
    believing. History of religion is objective,
    although it depends on an empathetic reliving
    of its object, and it makes no judgments about
    validity or truth. Old Testament theology, on the
    other hand, cannot be a historical inquiry,
    because it is concerned with what is timelessly
    or abidingly true, as determined by a particular
    (Christian) confession. Eissfeldt bases this
    argument on the assumption that
    historical-critical research cannot penetrate to
    the proper essence of Old Testament religion,
    and is thus unable to answer the questions of
    faith assigned to Old Testament theology."

1.6.2 Eissfeldt vs. Eichrodt Debate
  • "In 1926 Otto Eissfeldt distinguished between two
    different fields of inquiry. The history of
    religion is a field that proceeds along the lines
    of intellectual understanding or knowing. In this
    field, the effort is made to comprehend as a
    historical entity the religion of Israel as one
    religion among others. A second field, theology,
    is concerned with faith. Here the religion of
    Israel is regarded as the true religion that
    witnesses to God's revelation, and the effort is
    made to assess its veracity. Accordingly, the
    first field proceeds in a more historical
    fashion, while the second sets forth a more
    systematic presentation. Both have methods of
    inquiry that stimulate each other as they carry
    out their respective tasks and objectives.
    However, these methods of investigation should
    not be so blended

1.6.2 Eissfeldt vs. Eichrodt Debate
  • together that the tensions between them are
    eliminated. Their unity is found in the person of
    the scholar who works in both fields. Reflecting
    on the questions that had emerged since Gabler,
    Eissfeldt's argumentation was stimulated by the
    emerging dialectical theology. He sought not to
    search vigorously for the "Word of God" but also
    to establish the independence of historical
    investigation." Preuss

1.6.2 Eissfeldt vs. Eichrodt Debate
  • Eichrodt, the theologian, answered that
    Eissfeldts view, while preserving the integrity
    of history of religion, compromises that of Old
    Testament theology by removing it from the
    framework of Old Testament and historical inquiry
    generally (1929). In opposition to Eissfeldt,
    Eichrodt claimed that historical investigation
    can get to the essence of Old Testament religion.
    But Eichrodt redefined the essence of the Old
    Testament as the deepest meaning of its
    religious thought world that historical
    investigation can recover through an analysis
    that cuts across the various historical levels in
    the Old Testament. In other words, since
    essence is whatever historical inquiry can
    recover, historical inquiry, as a matter of
    definition, can recover the essence of Old
    Testament religion. Much of what Eissfeldt
    included within Old Testament theology-

1.6.2 Eissfeldt vs. Eichrodt Debate
  • questions of truth and faith -Eichrodt assigned
    to dogmatics. On the other hand, however, he
    ascribed to historical investigation a distinctly
    theological character all historical research
    presupposes a subjective moment, he claims, and
    the interpreters Christian confession provides
    the content of that moment in Old Testament
    theology-thus, it must be considered a legitimate
    part of historical scholarship." Ollenburger

1.6.2 Eissfeldt vs. Eichrodt Debate
  • "By contrast, W. Eichrodt wished to see the two
    fields mentioned above as a unity. One could
    certainly press toward the nature of Old
    Testament religion by proceeding only along the
    pathway of historical inquiry. This would mean
    that the questions of truth and value would
    belong to the field of dogmatics but not to
    biblical theology. However, scholarship may no
    longer rest content with only a genetic analysis
    rather, it must produce a comprehensive
    systematic work by laying out a cross section
    through the material that would point out the
    religion's inner structure and would establish
    the relationships between the varieties of its
    content. This way of proceeding would still
    represent a

1.6.2 Eissfeldt vs. Eichrodt Debate
  • historical approach and would not place its
    results under the scrutiny of normative questions
    of faith. Nor would this approach function as a
    testimony to the revelation of God. Eichrodt
    argued that his approach would free Old Testament
    theology from the chains of an Old Testament
    history of religion." Preuss
  • "It may only be mentioned at this point that the
    "battle for the Old Testament" that had
    intensified toward the end of the nineteenth
    century with the "Bible-Babel controversy" and
    the nationalistic and racist ideas of developing
    anti-Semitism and emerging national socialism
    also entered in general into this discussion
    concerning the Old Testament." Preuss

1.6.5 Walter Eichrodt
  • "The year 1933 may be said to mark the beginning
    of a new era in OT theology with the appearance
    of two such works, one by E. Sellin and the other
    by W. Eichrodt. By far the most outstanding and
    enduring representative of the new era in OT
    theology is Eichrodt's Theologie des Alten
    Testaments, originally published in three parts
    between 1933-39 (Eng 1961-67). In spite of
    legitimate criticisms and acknowledged
    shortcomings (Hayes and Prussner 1985 277),
    Eichrodt's work so far remains unsurpassed in
    comprehensiveness, methodological thoroughness,
    and theological acumen. From our vantage point in
    the late 20th century, one may safely say that it
    has stood the test of time and may well turn out
    to be the most significant work of its genre in
    the 20th century. Lemke

1.6.5 Walter Eichrodt
  • . . . Eichrodt defined the task of OT theology
    as constructing a complete picture of the realm
    of OT belief in its structural unity. Such an
    exposition was to be done with constant reference
    to two contextual realities the world of ANE
    religion on the one hand, and the realm of NT
    belief on the other. It should be observed,
    however, that in actual execution, Eichrodt paid
    far more attention to the former than the latter.
    His methodology sought to differentiate itself
    self-consciously from the systematic rubrics of
    dogmatic theology on the one hand, and the
    genetic approach of a radical historicism on the

1.6.5 Walter Eichrodt
  • The biblical concept of "covenant" was chosen by
    him as an overarching category or unifying center
    of OT theology, and the material was presented in
    accordance with the following tripartite scheme
    God and the People, God and the World, God and
    Man. A look at the full table of contents reveals
    that the organizational principle operative in
    Eichrodt's theology was systematic or conceptual.
    It should be noted, however, that within this
    systematic scheme, allowance was made for
    historically tracing changes in Israelite
    religion or in the perspective reflected in the
    chief documents and tradition complexes of the

1.6.5 Walter Eichrodt
  • ". . . Eichrodt maintained that the theologian
    can take a "cross-section" (Querschnitt) of this
    dynamic development at any point in the
    historical process in order to explore the Old
    Testament's structure of belief and to perceive
    its integrity vis-à-vis the religions of the
    environment. Just as a logger can cut through a
    tree and study the structure of its growth, so
    the theologian can study the "cross-section" that
    shows the "inner shape" or consistent structure
    manifest in its development. The faith of Israel
    is not a miscellaneous assortment of beliefs, nor
    is it only a process of growth and development.
    Rather, it manifests a structural unity or
    theological integrity that is fundamentally the
    same in all historical stages.

1.6.5 Walter Eichrodt
  • Eichrodt's approach is synchronic ("happening
    together," like notes struck simultaneously in a
    musical chord), though he also attempted to do
    justice to the diachronic dimension ("happening
    through time," like the successive notes of a
    scale). In his view Old Testament theology does
    not concentrate on growth or evolution (e.g., the
    growth of the idea of God) but on "structural"
    features that remain the same in all historical
    periods. Anderson

1.6.6 Gerhard von Rad
  • While there were differences in the choice of
    organizational schemas and overarching concepts,
    nearly all OT theologies were written from such a
    systematic-conceptual perspective. This
    methodological consensus was shaken during the
    late 1950s by G. von Rad with the publication of
    his immensely stimulating Theologie des Alten
    Testaments in two volumes (Eng 1961-65). Against
    the systematic-conceptual approach to the OT, von
    Rad insisted that the theological task proper to
    the OT is not the spiritual or religious world of
    Israel, nor the belief system of the OT, but
    simply Israel's own explicit assertions about
    Yahweh as reflected in the major tradition
    complexes of the OT. The latter,

1.6.6 Gerhard von Rad
  • however, presented Yahweh's relationship to
    Israel as a continuing divine activity in
    history. Consequently, it was this picture of
    Yahweh's activity in the history of Israel as
    reflected in the traditions of the OT which, for
    von Pad, constituted the proper subject of OT
  • Methodologically, this meant for him that the
    retelling of this confessional story of the OT
    traditions was the most legitimate form of
    theological discourse on the OT. This conviction
    is reflected in the manner in which von Rad
    organized and presented his material. Vol. I
    consists of two parts a concise survey of the
    history of Israelite religion, followed by a
    theology of Israel's historical traditions.

1.6.6 Gerhard von Rad
  • After a brief chapter on methodology, the latter
    are treated under the following three headings
    "The Theology of the Hexateuch," "Israel's
    Anointed" (covering the Deuteronomistic and the
    Chronicler's history), and "Israel Before Yahweh
    (Israel's Answer),"which covers the Psalms and
    the Wisdom Literature. Vol. II is divided into
    three parts as follows "General Considerations
    in Prophecy," "Classical Prophecy"(which treats
    the OT prophets from Amos on in their sequential
    appearance down to and including apocalyptic
    literature), and "The Old Testament and the New"
    (in which the author sets forth his understanding
    of the relationship between the testaments).
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