dinsdag 4 februari 2014

Theology of the New Testament

Udo Schelle, Theology of the New Testament, trans. M. Eugene Boring, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2009; ISBN 978-0-8010-3604-0; hb. 910 pp.; price $59,99;
The study of Udo Schnelle, originally written in German and trans-lated in English, has its own defects and shortcomings, but Schnelle makes clear that in the New Testament faith is seen as a gift of God. Faith completely rest on God’s grace and that is the reason that the fountain of faith is personal election.
Especially in the gospel of John and the letters of Paul the uncon-ditional and personal nature of election is stressed. Schreiner stresses that it is impossible to see the language of election only referring to the election of the congregation and that the fact whether you are a living member, finally depends on your own perseverance and is not guaranteed by the predestination and covenant loyalty of God himself.
The study of Schnelle can be praised also for other reasons. The fact that history of Jesus and his church is not treated in a neutral way in the New Testament, does not mean that the information cannot be seen a reliable. All writing of history is selective and is done out of a certain perspective.
Schnelle underlines that Jesus himself, while he was on earth knew that he had a unique relation to God and had a unique place in the history of salvation. I would make an even stronger state-ment, but as such we can agree with Schnelle. He emphasizes the continuity between what happened before and after Eastern.
Schnelle is convinced that the resurrection of Christ is a real history and not a myth. Schnelle has no patience with the view that originally there was a low Christology and that a high Christology points to a late date in development of presentation of the person of Christ.
At the same time we must say that Schnelle has not a very high view on Scripture. He thinks that the gospel of John can only in a very small measure be accepted as a source of historical information. He thinks that the Pastoral Epistles and the epistle to the Ephesians were not written by Paul.
Schnelle's argument is not only the style in which these letters are written by also their theological content. He thinks that Paul cannot have written these letters, because both the Pastoral Epistles and the letter to the Ephesians are less charismatic than Paul’s correspondence with Corinthe.
This is a circle argument. The emphasis on the gifts of the Spirits in the two letters to Corinthe is related to the problem in the congregation of Corinth. Besides that it is perhaps no coincidence that in later letter this problem was not so acute. The extra ordinary gifts of the Spirit became more and more accidental.
The differences in style can related to differences in content. Besides that we know that Paul made use of secretaries. Perhaps he gave them more freedom in the framing of his later letters. The fact that Schnelle thinks that there a real disagreement between Paul and James, must perhaps, at least partly, related to his Lutheran background
In his view on the Scriptures we must certainly not follow Schnelle, but the remarkable things that in his New Testament theology he does much more justice to full implications of the New Testament teaching of grace defending the personal and uncon-ditional character of God’s election than quite a lot of New Testament scholars of evangelical persuasion. So finally, I think that we can learn from both of them and must at the same time read their studies with critical discernment.