Recht und Ethik

Critical Praise for Recht und Ethik im Alten Testament: Beiträge des Symposiums

“Das Alte Testament und die Kultur der Moderne”

“A memorial volume to a scholar dead since 1971—part of a multivolume series no less! —might seem at first an odd exercise in academic nostalgia, particularly in an era

when publishers’ catalogues routinely announce new models for unfolding the historical-literary-theological development of the Pentateuch or even for reconceiving the task of biblical scholarship in toto. Still, Levinson, Otto, and their colleagues remind us that some questions about the Bible are of perennial interest and should not be eclipsed by fads. At the same time, our methods of addressing those questions must evolve, and with them new questions will arise. This volume advances our inquiry and so deserves our appreciation and study.”

—Mark W. Hamilton, Review of Biblical Literature,; (2006)

“One of six volumes of conference proceedings marking the centenary of the birth of Gerhard von Rad, this collection attends to ethics in connection with biblical law with a natural focus on Deuteronomy given von Rad’s substantial contribution to the study of that book. This connection provides the focus for Part I in which four essays evaluate von Rad’s legacy in Deuteronomy studies (E. Otto; G. Braulik; T. Veijola; U. Rüterswörden). Part II surveys the double tradition of the Decalogue (F.-L. Hossfeld) and explores Luther’s handling of the version in Deuteronomy (S. Kreuzer). The anglophone contributions take up the theme of ‘re-reading the law’ in Part III: B.M. Levinson and D. Dance examine von Rad’s Christian handling of ‘law’; W. Morrow explores covenant and Deuteronomy in the light of the transmission ANE legal traditions; J. Schaper connects biblical law to its use in Ezekiel 44 and Isaiah 56. In Part IV, a single article issuing from a three-way conversation explores just what an ‘Old Testament ethic’ achieves in terms of ‘justice, power, and life’ (F. Crüsemann; W. Dietrich; H.-C. Schmitt). The final part makes an explicit connection to ‘modernity,’ assessing the place of the (Hebrew) Bible in normative ethics (E. Herms; E. Otto). In spite of the clear thematic focus, the articles range widely over exegesis, legal history, hermeneutics, the history of interpretation, and theological ethics. Along with the companion volumes, it stands as testimony to von Rad’s enduring influence on biblical studies.”

—D.J. Reimer, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 30 (2006): 139

“Twelve studies by leading scholars of Hebrew Bible law and ethics honor Gerhard von Rad’s contributions to the study of Deuteronomy and pursue the place of the Hebrew Bible in modern ethical discussion. . . . The article by Levinson and Dance proves especially rewarding in that it provides the historical background for understanding elements in von Rad’s thought that ring false to modern ears. Von Rad’s unremitting disparagement of the category of ‘law’ and his relentless insistence that Deuteronomy is not ‘law’ but ‘gospel’ seems to ignore reality and ‘comes closer to eisegesis than exegesis’ (p. 85). The background for this point of view was von Rad’s opposition to the National Socialist ideology that grew particularly strong at the University of Jena, where he taught from 1934 to 1945. The Nazis and their German Christian allies considered the OT to be illegitimate for the Christian church because it was a ‘Jewish’ text. Given the theological presuppositions shared by German Lutheran and Reformed Protestants (and by both German Christians and the Confessing Church), von Rad seems to have been driven to deny the OT’s character as ‘law’ in order to hang onto it as Christian canon. Similarly, his notion of the kerygmatic ‘Levitical sermon’ (in Chronicles and Deuteronomy) provided a familiarly Protestant genre that down-played ‘law’ in favor of grace and election. The description of academic life at Jena under Nazi domination and von Rad’s isolated position there (pp. 91–102) is both enlightening and unnerving. ‘[T]hrough his scholarship, von Rad took a stand’ (p. 109), but he could never move beyond the antithesis of ‘law’ and ‘gospel’ and thus ‘became a victim of the historical context in which he found himself’ (p. 110).”

—Richard D. Nelson, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 68 (2006): 572–73

“Wie aus diesem kurzen Überblick ersichtlich wird, bietet der Band ein breites Spektrum an beachtenswerten Aufsätzen.”

—Jacob L. Wright, Theologische Zeitschrift 61 (2005): 369–370