Saturday, 14 March 2009

Von Rad was a Barthian

And this, curtesy of W.H. Schmidt, proves it (I think; there is now an English summary beneath):

"Im Grunde sucht G.v.Rad in vierfacher Hinsicht als Zusammenhang zu verstehen, was historisch-kritschem Denken auseinanderzufallen droht:

1) "Was Israel selbst von jahwe direkt ausgesagt hat", also das Glaubens-Zeugnis oder Bekenntnis Israels, und die (überlieferungs- bzw.redaktionsgeschichtlich gewonnene) Intention der Text in ihrer Situation. "Der Theologe muß sich vor allem unmittelbar mit den Zeugnissen beschäftigen, also ... nach der jeweiligen kerygmatischen Intention fragen" (I4, 118).

2) Die Geschichte - G.v.Rad kann sagen: die "Geschichtstatsachen", "Fakten" (118) - und die alttestamentliche Deutung der Geschichte aus dem Glauben.

3) Die Offenbarung Gottes - "Der wesentlichste Gegenstand einer Theologie des AT ... das lebendige Wort Jahwes, wie es an Israel ... je und je ergangen ist" (125); "Was Israel selbst als den eigentlichen Gegenstand seines Glaubens angesehen hat, nämlich die Offendbarung Jahwes" (127) - und Israels Glaube, der bekenntnishafte Bericht von Gottes Wirken.

4) Gottes Taten und Gottes Wort, "die Offenbarung Jahwes in der Geschichte in Worten und Taten" (127; vg. II4, 381ff).

Von diesem Ansatz aus gelingt es G.v. Rad, statt Einzelaussagen aus verschiedenen Zusammenhängen zu einem Gedankenkomplex zusammzustellen, in einem hohem Maße, Theologie als Exegese zu betreiben und umgekehrt die Exegese in die Theologie einzubeziehen, die Texte selbst zu Wort kommen zu lassen und dabei Feinheiten theologischer Differenzierungen in den einzelnen Literaturwerken aufzunehmen.

[...here Schmidt critiques the limitations of von Rad's emphasis on "history"...]
Ausdrücklich möchte G.v.Rad mehr und anderes bieten als eine geschichtliche Darstellung der alttestamentlichen Religion oder eine "Geschichte des Jahweglaubens" - so nur der einleitende I. Hauptteil. Da Israel in seinen Geschichtszeugnissen "nicht auf seinen Glauben, sondern auf Jahwe hingewiesen" hat (I4, 124), der Glaube also nicht "Gegenstand", vielmehr nur "Träger, Mund" des Bekenntnisses war, wird eigentlich "die Offenbarung Jahwes in der Geschichte in Worten und Taten" (127) zu Gegestand einer Theologie des Alten Testaments." [*]

No wonder Childs loved him so much!
Update:
I was asked in the comments to briefly summarize this in English. Here it is:

In short, von Rad tries to hold 4 things together that historical-criticism threatens to separate.:

1) The confessional witness of the text and the historically particular intentionality of the text. The Bible, in its particularity, is kerygmatic.

2) The interelation between the facts of history and their interpretation (I'm not too sure what Schmidt was saying here).

3) God himself as the living object of the Bible's witness and the human witness to this.

4) God's deeds and his word.
Schmidt goes on to say that by holding these things together von Rad was able to practice "theology as exegesis" as well as bring exegesis into theology without overlooking the nuances of the particular texts. The text in bold reads:

Because Israel, in its historical witnesses, did not refer to its own faith but rather to Jahwe himself, in other words, because faith was not the "object," rather the "bearer, mouth" of its witness, the revelation of Jahwe in history in words and deeds becomes the object of a theology of the Old Testament.
[*] Werner H. Schmidt, Alttestamentlicher Glaube (Neukirchner Verlag, 2004), 18-19.

10 comments:

steph said...

I really like this colour change. It's much easier on the eyes - and it doesn't even take as long to download. I don't think dial up liked all that heavy darkness. :-)

joshh said...

Hi!

I'm new to Childs and have been reading all over your site the past few weeks. I've gotten through his Biblical Theology and OT as Scripture and was wondering if there were any other books (besides Childs) that you might recommend--books that might aid in understanding him as well as his context. I also recently finished Word Without End by Christohper Seitz (you recommended it somewhere on this site). I enjoyed all three books so far--it's really fascinating stuff--but I wish I had more basic knowledge.

Any help would be appreciated!

Phil Sumpter said...

Steph,

a number of people have complained about it (in fact the first was called Steph, about a year ago, a Brueggemann fan, is that you ...?) so I decided to go ahead with it. At first I didn't like it but it's somehow grown on me. Thanks for the feedback!

Josh,

a while back a commentator said I could consider my blog to be a kind of "minsitry" for Childs. I quite like the idea, so I'm delighted that I may be encouraging other people to get into him!

Seitz is really your best bet. Besides him I'm not too sure. In my opinion the similarities with Rendtorff cover up some significant discrepancies. The best article on the canonical approach ever,without question, is Seitz's essay in Canon and Biblical Interpretation. This is an excellent defence of Childs against his detractors and in my humble opinion ought to be a must read for anyone dealing with the subject. Another good book by Seitz is his collection of essays in Figured Out and of course Prophecy and Hermeneutics, which I'm in the process of reviewing/analysing (overview here). There is also a helpful bunch of online essays in the Princeton Theological Review which are worth reading. Beyond that, I'm not too sure ... in my opinion Childs is incredibly misunderstood. I'd just keep reading him and read a bunch of Seitz too!

J*Rob said...

I like the new color!

And your blog, of course!

Phil Sumpter said...

Why thank you John. Though it's not quite as innovative as yours!

Anonymous said...

Phil, Thanks for maintaining this excellent blog. You are helping to keep Biblical theology especially interesting for newbies and amatures like myself.

I recently discovered Barth through Torrance and Kevin Diller and am consequently fascinated by the Von Rad - Barth connection. Since I am linguistically challenged, would you be so kind as to provide a short synopsis of this post in English?

Thanks,

Scott

Phil Sumpter said...

Hi Scott,

thank you for your kind words. There is actually an English translation of this book, The Faith of the Old Testament (I believe). You can read this excerpt in the opening chapter. Schmidt does not draw any direct connection to Barth himself, but as far as I can see there are strong similarities. I remember reading on Faith and Theology that von Rad was influenced by Barth and this confirms it for me. Interestingly, Schmidt goes on to relativise this statement by citing Bultmann.

In short, von Rad tries to hold 4 things together that historical-criticism threatens to separate.:

1) The confessional witness of the text and the historically particular intentionality of the text. The Bible, in its particularity, is kerygmatic.

2) The interelation between the facts of history and their interpretation (I'm not too sure what Schmidt was saying here).

3) God himself as the living object of the Bible's witness and the human witness to this.

4) God's deeds and his word.

Phil Sumpter said...

Sorry, I overlooked the second half!

Schmidt goes on to say that by holding these things together von Rad was able to practice "theology as exegesis" as well as bring exegesis into theology without overlooking the nuances of the particular texts. The text in bold reads:

"Because Israel, in its historical witnesses, did not refer to its own faith but rather to Jahwe himself, in other words, because faith was not the "object," rather the "bearer, mouth" of its witness, the revelation of Jahwe in history in words and deeds becomes the object of a theology of the Old Testament."

Anonymous said...

Phil, the last quote you supplied (recited below) was especially helpful for me in locating Von Rad with Barth. I will now read Von Rad with enthusiasm given his Barthian angle.

Also, I assume their is a strong connection between Barth and the Biblical theology concept of extra-textual divine self-revelation. I also assume that the Barth-Bib. Theol. connection is visible, in the area of theological exegesis, in which I have read next to nothing.

Thanks for the explanation.

Sincerely, Scott

"Because Israel, in its historical witnesses, did not refer to its own faith but rather to Jahwe himself, in other words, because faith was not the "object," rather the "bearer, mouth" of its witness, the revelation of Jahwe in history in words and deeds becomes the object of a theology of the Old Testament"

Phil Sumpter said...

Hi Scott,

glad to be of help.

I assume their is a strong connection between Barth and the Biblical theology concept of extra-textual divine self-revelation

I would have thought so.

I also assume that the Barth-Bib. Theol. connection is visible, in the area of theological exegesis

I'm not sure this is the case. There is a lot out there selling itself as "theological exegesis" which doesn't necessarily go along with this. I consider Brueggemann to be an example. Read the final chapter of his recent Introduction to the Old Testament, where he quotes Barth but in a different direction. For Brueggemann, it's all about the cultural construction of reality.