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Friday, November 11, 2005

Kittel and TDNT

Benjamin Myers praises Kittel's TDNT as a work of finest scholarship. I think some serious qualifications should always be made when mentioning this work. I agree that there are some useful reference articles. Yet most disturbingly some of the early reference articles are pretty anti-Jewish and some written by known antisemites. Kittel himself was a known Nazi supporter and he of all people wrote the article on Ioudaios if I remember rightly. And Grundmann, a Nazi party member and supporting member of the SS, was also an assistant in the TDNT project. In both these cases it is not so difficult to see how their racist ideology profoundly interfered with their academic work.

For all the details see e.g.:

G. Vermes, Jesus and the World of Judaism (1983).

S. Heschel, 'Nazifying Christian Theology: Walter Grundmann and the Institute for the Study and Eradication of Jewish Influenceon German Church Life', Church History 63 (1994), pp. 587-605.

M. Casey, 'Some Anti-Semitic Assumptions in the TDNT', NovT 41 (1999), pp. 280-291 and 'Who's Afraid of Jesus Christ?' in Crossley and Karner (eds.), Writing History, Constructing Religion, pp. 129-146 (an innocent plug, honest).

P. Head, 'The Nazi Quest for an Ayrian Jesus', JSHJ 2 (2004), pp. 55-89.


Blogger Ben Myers said...

Thanks, James. I appreciate this post, and I definitely agree with you: this is a very dark shadow that falls over parts of TDNT, and over a good deal of other NT scholarship at the time.

November 11, 2005

Blogger James Crossley said...

Yes, quite so. Sorry if I came across aggressively. Re-reading it I should have made it clear that it was absolutely not a personal comment.

November 15, 2005

Blogger Ben Myers said...

Don't worry -- I didn't take it personally! Thanks for listing this scholarship on the topic, too, which I've been tracking down and reading.

November 15, 2005

Blogger Andy Rowell said...

In The Nazi Conscience (Harvard, 2005), Claudia Koonz profiles Gerhard Kittel in chapter 3 as one of the key Nazi apologists in the academic world. She notes that he had been one of the people who appreciated Second Temple Judaism. In the 1920's he assembled his lexicon.

This made his advocacy of Nazism beginning in 1933 all the more credible and devastatingly effective. Koonz writes, "Although other Protestant theologians, like Emanuel Hirsch and Paul Althans, also embraced Nazism, only Kittel placed his erudition so squarely in the service of antisemitism" (60).

Thanks James for the references and for Ben for weighing in on this--now almost 4 years ago.

Andy Rowell
Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) Student
Duke Divinity School
Durham, North Carolina
Blog: Church Leadership Conversations

January 19, 2009


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