21 August 2006

Adolf Schlatter

One of the most neglected theologians of the past several centuries is Adolf Schlatter (1852-1938), the Swiss-born professor of New Testament at (mainly) Tuebingen in southern Germany (and my second favorite dead guy after Jonathan Edwards). One of the things I would love to foster through this blog is renewed interest in this important thinker and churchman who resisted the tidal wave of German liberalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries--yet whose students largely died in the two world wars. Schlatter was a humble genius who let the biblical text speak for itself again and again. So from time to time I'll be posting thoughts and comments from his works.

One that I recently got a hold of is this: "Thinking is an act of worship, because truth is God's gift."

Schlatter, with Edwards, has helped me to see that cold theology is as much an oxymoron as warm felt experience sought apart from robust theology.

If you don't read German and are wondering where to start with Schlatter, begin with Werner Neuer's short biography, translated by Robert Yarbrough, professor of NT at TEDS (Neuer just published an 800-page biography in German, the first extensive, definitive biography of Schlatter). If you're hooked after that (you will be), head to Schlatter's 2-volume NT theology text: The History of the Christ (I) and The Theology of the Apostles (II). Andreas Koestenberger, NT professor at Southeastern Baptist Seminary, translated both volumes into English. For more bite-size portions of Schlatter, get the last of over 430 works Schlatter ever produced, called Do We Know Jesus? It is a collection of daily devotionals, translated by (you guessed it) Yarbrough and Koestenberger. From someone who has a general aversion to daily devotional works--are they at times a kind of "Scripture Lite" for those who prefer not to struggle with the sacred text itself?--I assure you that this is more profound than any other such writing (except perhaps My Utmost for His Highest).

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