Monday, May 25, 2009

Quote of the month

But the academy finds its own way in these things, and often prefers the maunderings of nineteenth centry antisemitic German alcoholics to anything else.


I second!!


Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Ha! I'm glad you liked it!

I really do believe that the ubiquitous antisemitism of the nineteenth century's academics in Biblical studies is entirely underexposed, and not taken sufficient account of in understanding the motivations for some of their ideas. The general notion appearing in their work is that, of all the ancient nations, the Israelites were somehow the only ones who couldn't write in any normal manner, had no culture or religion of their own, and were (please pardon the awful recollection of such language) parasites on the ancient world, just as they were perceived by these cretins in the nineteenth century and afterward. This phenomenon really should be investigated.

Yitzhak said...

Not quite the same thing, but Kevin's remark reminds me of a favorite Chesterton quote, from his A Defence of Penny Dreadfuls:

"And with a hypocrisy so ludicrous as to be almost unparalleled in history, we rate the gutter-boys for their immorality at the very time that we are discussing (with equivocal German professors) whether morality is valid at all."

wolf2191 said...

Thanks so much!! I think the distinctly Protestant orientationof the founders of BC was summarized pretty well by Sulzbach in her Masters on R D Z Hoffmann mentoned here but the matter deserves further investigation

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Here is a link to Sulzbach's thesis, for convenience.

There is also the new and fascinating-looking (though obscenely expensive; I'll happily survive on bread and water to buy this one; AddAll has some good listings) Roots of Theological Anti-Semitism: German Biblical Interpretation and the Jews, from Herder and Semler to Kittel and Bultmann, by Anders Gerdmar (Brill, 2009). It looks to be exactly the book on the subject that I have been hoping someone would put together. It also appears to be exactly the book that everyone who unreflectively makes use of the findings of these men needs to read. Unfortunately, it's a Brill title, so it's out of the range of most budgets.

I recall reading several years ago in the Journal of Biblical Literature an article blowing the cover on Kittel's antisemitism and his subtle transference of it to readers of his still-influential Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (orig. Theologische Woerterbuch zum Neuen Testaement). I can't find the reference now, annoyingly. (I think I still have the article at home, and should be able to find it later.) Perhaps this inconvenient revelation was simply swept under the carpet, as the TDNT (which I will not touch) is still considered "[o]ne of the most widely-used and well-respected theological dictionaries ever created" and "one of the few agreed upon standard reference works in the area of New Testament studies" (see here, in the blurb for the electronic version).

I'll keep looking for that article. It bugs me that I can't find it.

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Found it!

Casey, Maurice. "Some Anti-Semitic Assumptions in the 'Theological Dictionary of the New Testament." Novum Testamentum 41.3 (Jul 1999), 280-291.

My goose chase was due to misremembering the journal.

Anonymous said...

Is the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament you mentioned the set commonly known as Kittel?


Anonymous said...

Is the Theological Dictionary you mentioned the one by Kittel?


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