Between Baur and Tuebingen School: towards hermeneutics of dialogue
Following an old time plan to write a brief review of the Tuebingen School, here is the article.
If you have studied theology, you must have studied or at least heard the names of the Tuebingen Theology Faculty graduates, which is said to be one of the best theology faculty in Germany, including: Karl Barth, Ferdinand Baur, Jurgen Moltmann, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Paul Tillich, Strauss and Miroslaf Volf. See Attachment. (1)
Although it is often regarded as the basic foundation of modern theology, Friedrich Schleiermacher (Halle University and Berlin University), but names such as Barth and Baur are very coloring theological studies. We are not close enough to know Schleiermacher and Barth's thinking, but there was once a kind of conflict between the two. (2) One carries an anthropocentric approach while Barth is known as the pioneer of neo-orthodoxy. In addition to the Tuebingen graduate theologians there are also many well-known scientists from Tuebingen University, say for example: Johannes Kepler and Arthur Geiger, inventors of the Geiger counter.
One of us read various texts which discussed Ferdinand Baur, who was the originator of the Tuebingen School. The basic assumption of Baur is the history of the early church following Hegel's dialectical theory of history. (3) And Hegel was also one of the alumni of Tuebingen. For example, Baur wrote that there is a conflict between Jewish Christianity as Paul's thesis and Christianity as an antithesis, which then becomes the Christian model of the Johanin community (reflected in the Gospel of John) as a synthesis (following Hegel's thesis-antithesis synthesis). (3) After decades of successfully leading PB theological thinking in his time, finally this School was abandoned after a book from von Harnack was published. (4)
Let us give a summary of the 5 striking weaknesses of the Tuebingen School:
a. Pseudo-Clementine. Baur seems to base his theory on contradictions in the early church from the dispute between Simon Magus and Peter referred to in the Pseudo Clementine text. (5) But this manuscript from the 4th century and non-canonical, so it is not feasible to build the early Church history theory. Moreover, this manuscript is allegedly indeed anti-Pauline (similar to the Ebionite School). The findings of the latest findings such as the Dead Sea script also left the Baur hypothesis abandoned.
b. The historicity of the gospel of John. The idea that the Gospel of John is a synthesis becomes raw, when the latest findings indicate that the 4th Gospel was allegedly from a period not far away or might precede the Synoptic Gospels. To study the historicity of the Gospel of John, see the work of CH Dodd. (6)
c. Unity in difference. (7) That there is indeed difference of opinion between various factions in the early church, it must be recognized (see Acts 15 and Galatians). But there is also unity and mutual respect among the pioneers in the early church, as seen in the following 3 verses:
The next day Paul went with us to visit James; all the elders were there. Galatians 2: 9 When he saw the grace that was given to me, James, Cephas, and John, who were seen as pillars of the church, shook hands with me and with Barnabas as a sign of fellowship, so that we would go to the uncircumcised and to them circumcised people;
1 Corinthians 3: 6
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave growth.
d. That difference does not appear in the literature of the church fathers.
If there was a conflict between Peter and Paul or between Paul and James, it would certainly be traceable in the literature of the father of the church, namely the disciples of the apostles. Then why could Baur make such a fatal mistake?
There are at least two causes:
- Baur comes from a foreign Protestant environment with a patristic study, so he only relies on Pseudo Clementine.
- Baur too believes in Hegel's historical dialectical hypothesis.
e. Meetings can be dialogues. As confirmed by Prof. Milad Hanna from the Coptic Church, encounters with The Other (others) do not have to produce conflict, but more likely dialogue that enlightens each other. That is why Martin Buber, the pioneer of the dialogical approach, also disagrees with Marx (and Freud).
It seems to be clear, that Hegel's ideas about the dialectics of history cannot be maintained. Especially the notion of dialectical materialism as in Marx (Marx also departed from Hegel).
In other words, we should move from hermeneutics of conflict (a la Hegel and Baur) towards hermeneutics of dialogue, as will be explored in a next article. (From logical perspective, dialogue can be viewed as accepting the otherness, just like Smarandache's Neutrosophic Logic.)
Although this article criticizes the Tuebingen School, it does not mean that there is nothing the writers admired among the famous Tuebingen graduates.
(7) V. Christianto. Kesatuan dan perbedaan dalam Gereja Perdana. IJT, 2014. URL: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272831753_Kesatuan_dan_Perbedaan_dalam_Gereja_Perdana_IJT_Volume_2_Nomor_2_Desember_2014
**Founder of Second Coming Institute, www.sci4God.com
Twitter: @Christianto2013, Line: @ThirdElijah, IG: @ThirdElijah
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