Introductory Biblical Science

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The Introduction Science is a discipline of biblical exegesis , which in turn part of Christian theology is. In the introductory science, the biblical books are analyzed with regard to their structure, their literary structure and the literary genres they contain , as well as questioning about possible authorship , possibly identifiable addressees and place and time of origin.

The introductory science is closely related to a literary history of the two parts of the Bible. However, while literary history traces the emergence and development of literary units from the smallest form (such as song, saying, prophetic word, psalm, saga, story, historical corpus) to the final text in its final form, indeed traces the development beyond the canon boundaries Introductory Science exactly the other way around. In a method comparable to archeology, it asks back from the traditional and now available now-form of the literary work (book of the Old or New Testament) for written and oral preliminary stages of the canonized final form.

Since, like many other humanities, the introductory biblical science is particularly "ideology-prone", the position of the researcher should be clear to himself and to others in order to avoid hidden premises. The professional cooperation between New Testament students of different denominations is pretty unproblematic these days.

Topics of introductory biblical science

Structure and structure of biblical books

The structure of a text can be very instructive for its interpretation. In this way, macrostructures can be traced across several biblical books (for example Pentateuch ), which indicate a literary relationship. Likewise, important internal textual references can be revealed on the synchronous level of the text: Is a special introduction repeated more often? Are there recurring keywords or word games? Is there a meter or rhythmic breaks? etc.

The structure of a work, a pericope or a section says a lot about the author's intention and is closely related to the genre. How does the author interpret and “fill” the biblical genre ? (Example: What does a letter say that lacks the culturally relatively fixed, friendly address?)

Addressees of Biblical Books

One question that introductory science answers is the question of the target audience of the biblical book. Is a New Testament letter addressed to Jewish Christians, to Gentile Christians, to church leaders, to individuals, to a particular church, or to all Christians? The answer to this can make a world of difference to exegesis .

In some cases, the addressees are more or less precisely specified in the text, but in such cases, too, further analyzes often have to be made: Is the letter to the Galatians addressed to the Galatians in the north or to the Galatians in the south? Since there were two areas of this name that were visited by Paul on different missionary trips, this also plays a role in the dating.

In other cases, internal observations can be used to identify the addressees. In Mark's Gospel, Aramaic expressions are consistently explained, so it is aimed more at Gentile Christians outside Israel, Matthew often argues with the Old Testament, so the addressees are more likely to be Jewish Christians than Gentile Christians.

Dating Biblical Books

An important task of introductory science is also the dating of biblical books. External and internal references play a role, historical persons who are mentioned in the text, archaeological finds that agree with information in the text, but also comparisons with other biblical books by the same author or other authors.

Philosophical questions also play a role here, such as whether a fulfilled prophecy is a Vaticinium ex eventu , which is particularly important in the Synoptic Gospels in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70. Were the prophecies written only after the destruction, are they real predictions about the future or are they general statements about the future, in which a specific event was then "recognized" afterwards?

Authorship of Biblical Books

In connection with dating, there is also the question of the authorship of biblical books - does the text come from the stated author or is it a pseudepigraphy .

In ancient Greece there are many examples of pseudepigraphy, by means of which a more recent work was published under the “protection” of a well-known author's name. Pseudepigraphy was used to give the work more authority. In contrast to this, however, pseudepigraphy of Christian writings is sharply condemned in the writings of the Church Fathers of the 2nd and 3rd centuries ( Canon Muratori , Serapion, Tertullian), and the carefully examined question of authenticity is an essential criterion for all Church Fathers who write to the canon for inclusion in the canon. In this respect, the pseudepigraphy possibly relating to the New Testament can be narrowed down relatively easily: between 70 and 110 AD.

Methodologically, the exact analysis of the text should always be the starting point. Observations on the text must be weighed against traditional secondary information about the text. The perception of tension in the text can trigger doubts about the traditionally stated authorship . A classic example is the authorship of Moses in the books of Genesis and Deuteronomy. How can Moses tell of creation and his own death? Such observations of the text can lead to reassessments of the authorship. However, other factors must also be taken into account, such as internal and external testimony for authorship, possible other explanations for the tensions (Moses wrote a tradition of creation and the account of his death is an addition from Joshua).

As in other areas of theology, introductory science also has more or less conservative or liberal authors whose respective theses and results sometimes differ greatly. For example, the introductory academic analysis of a more liberal author can come to the conclusion that Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians dates from the end of the 1st century and was not written by Paul at all, while a more conservative author comes to the conclusion that the letter was from Paul itself and is from the middle of the 1st century. Such different statements then also lead to a different interpretation of this biblical writing, since the circumstances of the drafting and the context are essential factors for the theological argumentation.

See also


Old testament

  • Otto Eißfeldt : Introduction to the Old Testament including the Apocrypha and pseudepigraphs, as well as the apocryphal and pseudepigraph-like Qumran scripts. Origin of the Old Testament. Neue Theologische Grundrisse, 3rd, revised edition, JCB Mohr (Paul Siebeck) Tübingen 1964
  • Georg Fohrer : Introduction to the Old Testament. Founded by E. Sellin, revised by G. Fohrer. 12th revised and expanded edition, Quelle & Meyer Heidelberg 1979, ISBN 3-494-00338-6
  • Otto Kaiser : Introduction to the Old Testament. An introduction to their findings and problems. ND 4th expanded edition, Berlin 1982 (licensed edition)
  • Thomas Römer et al .: Introduction à l'Ancien Testament. Le monde de la Bible 49, Labor et Fides Genève 2004, ISBN 2-8309-1112-1
  • Rudolf Smend : The Origin of the Old Testament. Theological Science, Volume 1, 2nd, revised and supplemented edition, Kohlhammer, Stuttgart / Berlin / Cologne / Mainz 1981, ISBN 3-17-007240-4
  • Erich Zenger et al .: Introduction to the Old Testament. 6th, revised edition, W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-17-019526-3 (study books theology 1,1)

New Testament

  • Armin Daniel Baum : Introduction to the New Testament. Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. Brunnen Verlag, Giessen 2017, ISBN 3-7655-9569-1 (evangelical).
  • Ingo Broer : Introduction to the New Testament (= NEB.NT Erg.Bd. 2 / 1–2). 2 vols. Würzburg 1998/2001.
  • Hans Conzelmann , Andreas Lindemann : Workbook for the New Testament (= UTB. 52). Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2010, ISBN 3-8252-0052-3 (reprint of the 14th, revised edition from 2004).
  • Martin Ebner , Stefan Schreiber (Ed.): Introduction to the New Testament (= Kohlhammer study books Theology. 6). 2nd, revised and updated edition. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-17-023093-4 .
  • Daniel Marguerat et al .: Introduction au Nouveau Testament. Son histoire, son écriture, sa théologie. Monde de la Bible 41, 2ème édition augmentée, Labor et Fides Genève 2001, ISBN 2-8309-1028-1 .
  • Erich Mauerhofer : Introduction to the writings of the New Testament. 3rd edition VTR, Nuremberg 2004, ISBN 3-93-796511-4 (evangelical).
  • Petr Pokorný / Ulrich Heckel: Introduction to the New Testament (UTB 2798). Tuebingen 2007.
  • Udo Schnelle : Introduction to the New Testament (= UTB. 1830). 9th, revised edition. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen u. a. 2017, ISBN 978-3-8252-4812-3 .
  • Gerd Theissen : The New Testament (Beck Wissen; bsr 2192). 3rd edition, Munich 2006.
  • Philipp Vielhauer : History of early Christian literature: Introduction to the New Testament, the Apocrypha and the Apostolic Fathers. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1978, ISBN 3-11-007763-9 (older standard work, also deals with extra-biblical writings).

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