Monday, July 08, 2013

Godet on the "diseased imagination" of the Tübingen School

In preparing for yesterday’s sermon on Jesus’ visit with Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42, I continued my concurrent reading of Frederick Godet’s Luke commentary (English ed. 1881).  In his summation on the pericope, Godet offers the following negative assessment of the interpretation given the passage by the so-called “Tübingen School” of interpretation, which postulated hidden references to Jewish Christian (Petrine)/Gentile Christian (Pauline) tension, in good Hegelian fashion, lurking underneath every NT rock.  This school, with its rabid skepticism towards the historicity of the NT, would have been at the height of its popularity when the orthodox Swiss exegete wrote.  His final sentence offers an accurate prophecy of the ultimate demise of this approach, as indeed it has largely been abandoned even by the most skeptical contemporary academic scholars:

The Tübingen School has discovered depths in this narrative unknown till it appeared.  In the person of Martha, Luke seeks to stigmatize Judaizing Christianity, that of legal works; in the person of Mary he has exalted the Christianity of Paul, that of justification without works and by faith alone.  What extraordinary prejudice must prevail in a mind which can to such a degree mistake the exquisite simplicity of this story!  Supposing that it really had such an origin, would not this dogmatic importation have infallibly discolored both the matter and form of the narrative?  A time will come when those judgments of modern criticism will appear like the wanderings of a diseased imagination (p. 311).

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