Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Great German Theologian Forgotten

A name in scholarship I was unaware of when I entered seminary was that of Adolf Schlatter (1852-1938).  As a theologian during the turn of the 20th century, he had a profound effect in many areas of German theological scholarship that today has been largely forgotten - "a well kept secret", as one scholar notes (The History of the Christ, 11).  Working for Dr. Robert Yarbrough for two years, and being around a couple others who are excited about Schaltter scholarship, led me to read his works, and I found I was enjoying it very much.

The most salient aspect in Schlatter method and scholarship that I appreciate is his complete devotion to Scripture in his scholarship.  Eta Linnemann, after her radical transformation, once noted that Schlatter was not regarded by his peers because his scholarship was "unscientific".  But this was an active choice of his.  I remember it being said of Schaltter that there was a moment in his life where he made the choice to be an expert in the primary sources, and this meant leaving much of the secondary literature to the side.  Andreas Köstenberger observes, "Unlike many of his contemporaries, he treated Scripture with respect and the confidence that it could be trusted to reveal God's word to his generation" (9).   Additionally, Schlatter calims, "the doctrinal task, through which we align ourselves with the teachings of the NT and through which clarify whether or not and how and why we accept those teachings into our own personal lives, so that they are not only truth for the NT community, but also for us personally" (quoted in, 11). For Schlatter Scripture held the key to what we need to know about the historical Jesus and the Christian faith.  "Historical thinking does not extend beyond that which is revealed by the available sources.  Otherwise historical research would turn out novels" (quoted in, 14).

For more on Schlatter, see this excellent page on his life, career, and work.  Köstenberger and Yarbrough observe, "Adolf Schlatter's was a life well lived", and is one that should be celebrated for its faithfulness to God and His word, especially his witness within academia.  A true model for scholars, young and seasoned.

Other Schlatter Posts on MosisMose:

1 comment:

  1. I hadn’t seen that website; good stuff. Another great source is Werner Neuer’s biography is an enjoyable read, and lends great insight into the man and his ministry.