Thursday, 29 October 2009

H.-J. Kraus on Biblical scholarship and theology

There has been a brief exchange on Jim West's Biblical-Studies List on the value of a "secular" Biblical scholarship, in contrast to ... something else (it is not clear what). I may post the elements of the exchange between myself and another (who, out of respect for Jim's rules, will remain anonymous). The initiator of the movement has a blog: Jim's Thinking Shop & Tea Room (which has some very amusing content; I also happen to think his project could produce some fruitful dialogue, and so welcome it). Until then, here is a fitting quote H.-J. Kraus:
Es ist erschreckend, wie stark der historisch-verobjektivierende Distanzierungseffekt einer der Phänomene registrierenden ‘Theologie’ die alttestamentlicheWissenschaft isoliert und sie im Gefüge theologischer Forschungs- und Lehrinstitutionen zu einer unwirksamen historischen Disziplin prägt. Diese Bemerkung sei verstanden als ein weiterer Beitrag zu der von B.S. Childs und R.E. Clements ins Gespräch geworfenen Behauptung einer Krise der Biblischen Theologie [*].
I should add that Kraus was one of the few Old Testament scholars who managed to hold a chair in Old Testament and Systematic Theology at the same time. Kudos. Something to emulate. There is a fascinating seminar going on at the University of Bonn at the moment on the (possible) relationship(s) between Old Testament scholarship and Systematic Theology. Though Bonn currently has both feet firmly in the tradition of consensus German critical scholarship (as did Kraus), Prof. Graupner (who did his PhD on the "theology of E," I believe) stated: "Der Alttestamentler ist zuerst immer ein Historiker. Zu einem Theologen wird er durch den Gegenstand." A bit naive, perhaps, but better than some of the other proposals out there.

[*]Kraus, Geschichteウ, 559, cf. 557.

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