In the nineteenth century the unrestricted application of the historical-critical method posed an unprecedented challenge to inherited Christian notions about the Bible. While this challenge was eventually to be felt most acutely in the study of the New Testament (nt) once the distinction between the “Jesus of history” and the “Christ of faith” had firmly established itself, traditional viewpoints on the Old Testament (ot) were actually the first to be called into question. As a consequence of historical investigation, it became increasingly difficult for theologians to claim that the gospel is already taught in the ot. Regarding this matter, Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834) made a bold proposal. He argued against the canonical standing of the ot on the grounds that it expresses Jewish, not Christian, religion. For him this conclusion was the unavoidable result of the advancing critical scholarship that was undermining the christological exegesis used to defend the church's claim to the ot against the synagogue's counter-claim to its sole rightful possession. Opposing such “christianizing” readings, Schleiermacher broke ranks from Christian theologians and championed the side of the Jews in this historic debate. His only predecessors in this regard were Marcion and the Socinians, although his proposal for relegating the ot to noncanonical status was later endorsed by Adolf von Harnack.
1 Hans-Joachim Kraus insists: “For the basic understanding of the Old Testament in the nineteenth century, Schleiermacher's statements were of no small importance” (Kraus, Die Geschichte der historisch-kritischen Erforschung des Alten Testaments von der Reformation bis zur Gegenwart [2d ed.; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1969] 170).
2 Klaus Beckmann, Die fremde Wurzel. Altes Testament und Judentum in der evangelischen Theologie des 19. Jahrhunderts (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002) 31, 33.
3 Karl Barth exclaimed: “A religio-historical understanding of the Old Testament in abstraction from the revelation of the risen Christ is simply an abandonment of the New Testament and of the sphere of the church in favor of that of the synagogue, and therefore in favor of an Old Testament … understood apart from its true object and content” (Barth, The Doctrine of the Word of God [vol. 1.2 of Church Dogmatics; trans. G. T. Thomson and Harold Knight; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1956] 489).
4 Stephen Sykes, The Identity of Christianity: Theologians and the Essence of Christianity from Schleiermacher to Barth (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984) 99.
5 Friedrich Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube nach den Grundsätzen der evangelischen Kirche im Zusammenhang dargestellt (ed. Martin Redeker; critical ed. based on the 2d German ed.; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1960) § 130.2 (henceforth abbreviated as Gl. and cited by section and paragraph); ET, The Christian Faith (ed. H. R. Mackintosh and J. S. Stewart; English translation of the 2d German ed. of 1830–31; Edinburgh: T&T Clark; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976). Translations of Schleiermacher's texts are mine unless otherwise indicated.
6 Gl. § 27.3.
7 Friedrich Schleiermacher, Schleiermachers Sendschreiben über seine Glaubenslehre an Lücke (ed. Hermann Mulert; Giessen: Töpelmann, 1908) 41–43; ET, On the Glaubenslehre: Two Letters to Dr. Lücke (trans. James Duke and Francis Fiorenza; American Academy of Religion Texts and Translations Series; Chico, Ca.: Scholars Press, 1981) 65–67 (henceforth, page references to the English translation will be placed in parentheses).
8 Gl. § 14, postscript.
9 Sendschreiben, 42 (On the Glaubenslehre, 66).
10 Gl. § 27.3.
11 Gl. § 132.2.
12 Friedrich Schleiermacher, Aus Schleiermacher's Leben in Briefen (ed. Ludwig Jonas and Wilhelm Dilthey; 4 vols.; Berlin: Reimer, 1860–1863) 4:394.
13 In Schleiermacher's model of theology, biblical exegesis is the first part of historical theology. See Kurze Darstellung des theologischen Studiums zum Behuf einleitender Vorlesungen (ed. Heinrich Scholz; critical ed.; Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1961) § 85; ET, Brief Outline on the Study of Theology (trans. Terrence N. Tice; Atlanta: John Knox, 1977).
14 Kurze Darstellung, § 141.
15 Gl. § 132; see also Gl. § 129.
16 Kurze Darstellung, 47, n. 2 (Brief Outline, 53, n. 2).
17 Gl. § 12.
18 Gl. § 12.2.
19 Gl. § 12.1.
20 Gl. § 12.2.
21 According to Schleiermacher, the definition of a religion's essence is designated a “critical inquiry” because the constant element in a historical phenomenon cannot be “ascertained in a merely empirical manner.” He called this task “philosophical theology” (Kurze Darstellung, § 32; see also Gl. § 21). Ernst Troeltsch correctly understood that the attempt to define the essence was a response to the dissolution of dogma's authority in the light of historical consciousness (Troeltsch,“What Does ‘Essence of Christianity’ Mean?,” in Ernst Troeltsch: Writings on Theology and Religion [ed. Robert Morgan and Michael Pye; Atlanta: John Knox, 1977] 158, 177). Sykes comments: “Schleiermacher stumbles on a theological tool, namely that of the critical definition of the essence of Christianity, which meets the future exigencies of the impact of the biblical-critical movement on doctrinal theology” (The Identity of Christianity, 99).
22 Gl. § 11.
23 Schleiermacher wrote, “Christianity is the purest formation of monotheism to have emerged in history” (Gl. § 8.4). See Erhard Lucas, “Die Zuordnung von Judentum und Christentum von Schleiermacher bis Lagarde,” EvTh 23 (1963) 590–607, esp. 590–93; also Ernst Katzer, “Schleiermacher und die alttestamentlich-jüdische Religion,” Neues Sächsisches Kirchenblatt 26 (1919) 721–28, 737–44.
24 Schleiermacher characterized “the two chief concepts of the Jewish religion” as “the divine election of the nation and divine retribution” (Gl. § 103.3).
25 Gl. § 12.2.
26 The force of this observation is qualified when Schleiermacher insists upon the need for a critical investigation into the nt canon: “The Protestant Church necessarily claims to be continually occupied in determining the New Testament canon more exactly. The New Testament canon has obtained its present form through the decision of the Church,” though “[t]his is not a decision to which we attribute an authority exalted above all inquiry.” “It must be permissible, then … to have the canon in two forms: that which has been handed down historically and that which has been separated out critically” (Brief Outline, § 110, 114).
27 Gl. § 12.3. Schleiermacher sometimes preached on ot texts. For analysis of these sermons, see Joachim Hoppe, “Altes Testament und alttestamentliche Predigt bei Schleiermacher,” Monatschrift für Pastoraltheologie 54 (1965) 213–20, and Wolfgang Trillhaas, “Schleiermachers Predigten über alttestamentliche Texte,” in Schleiermacher und die wissenschaftliche Kultur des Christentums (ed. Günther Meckenstock; Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1991) 279–89.
28 Gl. § 132.2. Schleiermacher said that “law is not originally a Christian term” (Gl. § 66.2). In his understanding of Christian ethics the imperative mood is replaced by a descriptive account of how Christians act in accordance with their religious consciousness. Though his statement implies that Judaism is “legalistic,” the primary target of his criticism is the extremely conservative use of the ot by some Christians such as his Berlin colleague Hengstenberg who appealed to the ot to defend the institution of monarchy and to oppose the modern liberal state. See Beckmann, Die fremde Wurzel, 239–70.
29 Joseph W. Pickle, “Schleiermacher on Judaism,” JR 60 (1980) 115.
30 It appears as though Schleiermacher viewed Moses as the founder of Judaism: “By ‘Judaism’ is understood primarily the Mosaic institutions, but also, as preparation for these, every earlier usage which abetted the segregation of the people” (Gl. § 12.1–2). He also characterized the religion of the pre-Mosaic period as “Abrahamitic Judaism,” which is obviously anachronistic.
31 Pickle points out that the emancipated Jews whom Schleiermacher knew held to these same views of Judaism on account of their commitment to the Enlightenment's ideal of a purely rational religion: “The uncompromising critic of natural religion sees, and tries to appreciate, Judaism in the guise formulated by passionate devotees of natural religion” (Pickle, “Schleiermacher on Judaism,” 137). Pickle concludes that Schleiermacher's view of Judaism was not really negative so much as it was ambivalent.
32 Schleiermacher's comparison of Jewish and Christian monotheisms results from an unfair juxtaposition of an actual Judaism and an idealized Christianity. Christianity has been particularistic (as distinct from historically particular) in its own way on account of the belief that “outside of the church there is no salvation.” Finally, doubt must surely be cast on Schleiermacher's claim that monotheism has found its purest expression in Christianity when it is recalled that Jews and Muslims alike have traditionally looked upon trinitarianism as a relapse into polytheism. That he was sensitive to this criticism is evident from his plea for reconsideration of the Sabellian way of interpreting the trinitarian doctrine. See Gl. § 170–72.
33 Tikva Frymer-Kensky writes: “The Bible is the source of halakic [legal] authority, but it does not function on its own and is not an independent source of authority in traditional Judaism. … [T]he Christian church was explicitly ‘supersessionist.’ It showed honor to and interest in the Hebrew Bible and claimed it as its own heritage, but it considered the New Testament as its foundational Scripture. … Judaism was almost equally supersessionist, but it did not make its supersessionism apparent. It behaved ritually as if the Torah was the central facet of Judaism, but it dictated the way that the Torah should be read” (Frymer-Kensky, “The Emergence of Jewish Biblical Theologies,” in Jews, Christians, and the Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures [ed. Alice Ogden Bellis and Joel S. Kaminsky; Atlanta: SBL, 2000] 111).
34 Matthias Wolfes makes this pointed observation: “The equation of the Old Testament and Jewish religion carried out by Schleiermacher has, however, a fatal consequence for the theological evaluation of Judaism. For it denies to Judaism a capacity for renewal and development beyond the historical religious development attested in the biblical writings” (Matthias Wolfes, Öffentlichkeit und Bürgergesellschaft. Friedrich Schleiermachers politische Wirksamkeit [New York and Berlin: de Gruyter, 2004] 2:374).
35 Barth, Church Dogmatics, 1.2, 510. See also Julie Galambush, The Reluctant Parting: How the New Testament's Jewish Writers Created a Christian Book (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2005).
36 Since incipient Christianity was not homogenous, Wayne A. Meeks insists that we formulate better questions: “The questions that have to be asked are more particular: Which parts of the Jewish tradition were being assumed and reinterpreted by this or that group of early Christians? Which institutions were continued, which discarded?” (Meeks, “Judaism, Hellenism, and the Birth of Christianity,” in Paul Beyond the Judaism/Hellenism Divide [ed. Troels Engberg-Pedersen; Louisville: John Knox, 2001] 26).
37 Meeks, “Judaism, Hellenism, and the Birth of Christianity,” 24–26.
38 Gl. § 9.2, emphasis added.
40 For an early critique of Schleiermacher's thought along these lines, see J. C. F. Steudel, “Über Schleiermacher's und Marheineke's Ansicht über das Alte Testament,” in idem, Vorlesungen über die Theologie des Alten Testaments (ed. G. F. Oehler; Berlin: Reimer, 1840) 540–42. Studel represented the supernaturalist orthodox theology.
41 Hermeneutics and Criticism and Other Essays (ed. Andrew Bowie; Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998) 42.
42 Krister Stendahl cautions against speaking of “conversion” with respect to the apostle Paul since it implies that he joined another religion. Krister Stendahl, Paul Among Jews and Gentiles (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976) 7–23.
43 Pickle, “Schleiermacher on Judaism,” 137. Pickle goes on to say: “One can only wish that Schleiermacher's theological dispositions had been matched with an equally comprehensive awareness of Jewish piety, tradition, and insight. … Since theology is never a closed book, however, it falls to his admirers to improve—in his own spirit—upon his view of Judaism.”
44 The ambiguity involved in the idea of an “essence” is that it is not merely descriptive in intent but prescriptive as well. Its purpose, according to Troeltsch, is not only to indicate what distinguishes Christianity from other religions but also “to make possible an evaluation of what is essential [within Christianity], on the basis of which the inessential can be ignored and that which is contrary to the essence can be condemned” (Troeltsch, “What Does ‘Essence of Christianity’ Mean?” 144). The central problem in its deployment, as Troeltsch indicated, lies in “this unavoidable transition from an abstracted concept to an ideal concept” (158). Troeltsch thus called for a more careful distinction between “the properly historical” and “the philosophically historical, normative element.”
45 A helpful analogy may be found in thinking about the reasons why the United States was founded, such as democracy, freedom of religion, human rights, etc. This descriptive-historical judgment obviously entails normative implications for judging America as a nation in relation to these ideals.
46 The German word Wesen can be translated either as “essence” or “nature.” For my own constructive purposes in the next section, I employ the term “nature” to distinguish the material content of Schleiermacher's understanding of Christian faith from his formal statement of its “essence.”
47 John B. Cobb, Jr. criticizes the tradition of Schleiermacher: “[T]he question of the distinctive essence of Christianity was subordinated to that of its superiority to other religions in such a way that the former question was inadequately treated” (Cobb, The Structure of Christian Existence [New York: Seabury, 1967] 14).
48 For an example of this sort of inquiry on the part of a liberal Jewish thinker, see Leo Baeck, The Essence of Judaism (trans. Victor Grubenwieser and Leonard Pearl; New York: Schocken, 1976).
49 Hermeneutics and Criticism, 43, 41.
50 Gl. § 11.5, 28.2.
51 Faith in Christ, according to Schleiermacher, is “a purely factual certainty, but a certainty of a fact which is entirely inward” (Gl. § 14.1). Elsewhere he states: “This exposition is based entirely on the inner experience of the believer; its only purpose is to describe and elucidate that experience” (Gl. § 100.3).
52 Schleiermacher exposited each doctrine in a threefold manner as a statement about the self, the world, and God (Gl. § 30).
53 “Dogmatic propositions arise only from logically ordered reflection upon the immediate utterances of the religious self-consciousness” (Gl. § 16, postscript).
54 Richard R. Niebuhr makes exactly the same point. See Richard Niebuhr, Schleiermacher on Christ and Religion: A New Introduction (New York: Scribner, 1964) 16–17.
55 Gl. § 93. Schleiermacher added that this perfect God-consciousness was “a veritable existence of God in him” (Gl. § 94). He thereby wished to indicate his continuity with the Alexandrian tradition.
56 Gl. § 93.1–3.
57 Gl. § 93.2.
58 Leander E. Keck adds that there is no need to “presuppose ‘sinless perfection’ (to speak with Schleiermacher) in the event of Jesus” (Keck, A Future for the Historical Jesus: The Place of Jesus in Preaching and Theology [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981] 217).
59 For Schleiermacher the two opposing christological heresies are the Ebionite (or “Nazarean”) and the docetic; the former denies that Jesus is absolutely superior to all other persons by virtue of his God-consciousness and the latter denies that there is an essential likeness between him and all other persons (Gl. § 22.2). Docetism originally referred to the denial that Jesus had a real body and later to the denial that he had a rational human soul. Schleiermacher, of course, did not deny either of these; but his assertion of Jesus' absolutely perfect God-consciousness makes him categorically unlike everyone else.
60 Schleiermacher acknowledged this point as a possible criticism of his doctrine but rejected it (Gl. § 93.1).
61 Susannah Heschel, Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988) 145.
62 Gl. § 93.2.
63 Schleiermacher defended the historical veracity of John's gospel in a note added to the third edition of the Speeches in 1821. Schleiermacher, On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers (trans. John Oman; New York: Harper and Row, 1958; repr., Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1994) 262–63. In another place, Schleiermacher speculated on John's relation to Jesus: “In John's Gospel the interest is historical: was the author a contemporary witness?” (Schleiermacher, Hermeneutics and Criticism, 212).
64 Horst Dietrich Preuss writes: “The opposition of Moses and Christ Schleiermacher takes from the Gospel of John which is also in other respects for him the most highly prized [of the gospels], and perhaps this even played a role in determining his attitude to ‘the Jews’” (Preuss, “Vom Verlust des Alten Testaments und seinen Folgen dargestellt anhand der Theologie und Predigt F. D. Schleiermachers,” in Lebendiger Umgang mit Schrift und Bekenntnis [ed. Joachim Track; Stuttgart: Calwer, 1980] 144).
65 Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus (trans. W. Montgomery; New York: Macmillan, 1968) 62, 66.
66 Beckmann, Die fremde Wurzel, 197–239.
67 David Friedrich Strauss, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined (ed. with an introduction by Peter C. Hodgson; trans. George Eliot; Lives of Jesus series; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972) 773.
68 Beckmann, Die fremde Wurzel, 206.
69 Ibid. Beckmann is troubled by the application of “myth” to the exegesis of the Bible as well as by the Hegelian interpretation of it given by Strauss, yet he correctly formulates the import of this hermeneutic for Strauss: “In his ‘mythical’ criticism of the gospels Strauss expressed in radical fashion the literary unity of the Old and New Testaments. In his view, the evangelical narratives arose from the living Jewish tradition. Since the New Testament writers intended to prove the messianic character of Jesus, the Jewish Bible was seen [by Strauss] as the decisive formative influence upon the evangelical texts. The Jewish-Old Testament myth about the messiah determined for Strauss not only the ‘how’ but already the ‘that’ of the narratives about Jesus as the Christ” (Ibid., 208). If Beckmann had been willing to follow Strauss down this path, he could have claimed that Strauss, not Hofmann, provided the best alternative to Schleiermacher's position. One need not endorse the Hegelianism of Strauss as a condition for recognizing the importance of myth as a category of biblical interpretation.
70 Rudolf Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament (trans. Kendrick Grobel; 2 vols.; New York: Scribner, 1951, 1955) 1:3.
71 Hans Dieter Betz, “Wellhausen's Dictum ‘Jesus was not a Christian, but a Jew’ in Light of Present Scholarship,” StTh 45 (1991) 83–110.
72 Gl. § 93.2.
73 Schleiermacher was the first to offer a course of lectures on the life of Jesus in 1819, thereby helping to launch the nineteenth century's quest for the historical Jesus. The Life of Jesus (ed. Jack C. Verheyden; trans. S. MacLean Gilmour; Lives of Jesus series; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975).
74 Beckmann, Die Fremde Wurzel, 133 n. 530.
75 When I employ the phrase “historical Jesus,” I simply mean the earliest layers of the synoptic tradition that have the greatest claim to reflect the authentic words of Jesus, though these can never be completely reconstructed with absolute assurance. Such historical judgments are always matters of probability. Schubert M. Ogden helpfully points out that the earliest, non-christological stratum of the synoptic tradition has a kerygmatic intent inasmuch as it seeks to confront the hearer/reader with the same decision for God called for by Jesus' words (The Point of Christology [San Francisco: Harper, 1982]112–15).
76 This way of posing the question of the material continuity between the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith was the signal contribution of the post-Bultmannian “New Quest” initiated by Ernst Käsemann. See Ernst Käsemann, “The Problem of the Historical Jesus,” Essays on New Testament Themes (trans. W. J. Montague; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982) 15–47.
77 Adolf von Harnack correctly understood that Jesus “desired no other belief in his person and no other attachment to it than is contained in the keeping of his commandments” (What is Christianity? [trans. Thomas Bailey Saunders; Fortress Texts in Modern Theology; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986] 125).
78 H. Richard Niebuhr, Radical Monotheism and Western Culture (New York: Harper, 1970) 39–40.
79 Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, 1:34–35. Bultmann says that this continuity between Jesus and his Jewish heritage explains why “modern liberal Judaism can very well esteem Jesus as teacher.”
80 Troeltsch wrote: “In the absence of historical-critical thinking, Jesus was naturally identified with God in order that he might be the immediate object of faith; with critical thinking, the God of Jesus becomes the object of faith, and Jesus is transformed into the historical mediator and revealer” (“The Dogmatics of the History-of Religions School,” in Religion in History [trans. James Luther Adams and Walter F. Bense; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991] 98).
81 Van A. Harvey, The Historian and the Believer: The Morality of Historical Knowledge and Christian Belief (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966) 274.
82 Claude Welch, Protestant Thought in the Nineteenth Century (2 vols.; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972–1985) 1:83–84.
83 Ogden, The Point of Christology, 16.
84 B. A. Gerrish, Saving and Secular Faith: An Invitation to Systematic Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999) 98. Gerrish likens this logic of christological reflection to that found in Athanasius and Luther.
85 Gl. § 88.2.
86 Gl. § 11.3.
87 Gl. § 7.3.
88 Wesley J. Wildman defines the “Absolutist Principle” as “the proposition that Jesus Christ is absolutely, universally, uniquely, unsurpassably significant for revelation and soteriology” (“Basic Christological Distinctions,” TD 64  299).
89 Wildman, “Basic Christological Distinctions,” 302.
90 Ibid., 303.
91 H. Richard Niebuhr, The Meaning of Revelation (New York: Macmillan, 1941) 13. Niebuhr's work is an example of how a theologian employing a “confessional” theological method quite similar to that of Schleiermacher can nonetheless put different material content into it.
92 Gl. § 94.2.
93 Schleiermacher called this “an original revelation of God to the human being” (Gl. § 4.4).
94 Hans W. Frei called Tillich “Schleiermacher redivivus.” Frei, Types of Modern Theology (ed. George Hunsinger and William C. Placher; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992) 3, 68.
95 Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology (3 vols.; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951, 1957, 1963) 1:142.
96 Tillich, Systematic Theology, 1:133.
97 Tillich responded to the charge that Judaism is inherently nationalistic: “The Old Testament certainly is full of Jewish nationalism, but it appears over and over as that against which the Old Testament fights” (Systematic Theology, 1:142). Such a nuanced approach is absent from Schleiermacher's portrayal.
98 Gl. § 12.1.
99 In a handwritten marginal comment, Schleiermacher did attribute the emergence of monotheism to “revelation” (Gl. § 2:502, 504, notes to § 10 and 15 from the first German edition of 1821–1822).
100 Not only could Schleiermacher's method have allowed him to paint a more positive portrait of Judaism, but Jewish theologians could easily avail themselves, mutatis mutandis, of his formal model of theology.
101 Jaroslav Pelikan notes: “The Old Testament achieved and maintained its status as Christian Scripture with the aid of spiritual exegesis. There was no early Christian who simultaneously acknowledged the doctrinal authority of the Old Testament and interpreted it literally” (The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition 100–600 [vol. 1 of The Christian Tradition; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971] 81).
102 Today, historical-critical readings of scripture have to be defended against attacks from both ends of the theological spectrum. From the right, Christopher R. Seitz, seeking to rehabilitate a traditional view of biblical authority, denies that historical-critical study has any constitutive significance for theology (Word Without End: The Old Testament as Abiding Theological Witness [Waco: Baylor University Press, 2004] 97). John J. Collins provides a cogent rejoinder to this type of conservative argument (“Biblical Theology and the History of Israelite Religion,” Encounters with Biblical Theology [Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005] 33). On the left, Dale B. Martin, working from a “postmodern” position, argues against “the notion that Christians should insist on the necessity of historical criticism” (Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation [Louisville: John Knox, 2006] 9). For a critique of this type of argument, see Collins, “Historical Criticism and Its Postmodern Critics,” The Bible after Babel: Historical Criticism in a Postmodern Age (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005) 9–25.
103 Beckmann, Die fremde Wurzel, 349.
104 Many modern Jews also acknowledge the mythological or symbolic character of the messianic idea. See the Prayer Book of Conservative Judaism, Sabbath and Festival Prayer Book (New York: The Rabbinical Assembly of America and the United Synagogue of America, 1973) ix.
105 Michael Hilton, The Christian Effect on Jewish Life (London: SCM, 1994) 2.
106 Schubert M. Ogden, “The Authority of Scripture for Theology,” On Theology (San Francisco: Harper, 1986) 65–66.
107 Schleiermacher said of the less distinctively Christian doctrines elaborated in the first part of his dogmatics that they are “both presupposed by and contained in every Christian religious affection” (Gl. § 32).
108 Rolf P. Knierim asks “whether the understanding of Christ as expressed in diverse theological interpretations triggered by the New Testament is at times so controversial among Christians, today as throughout history, that they reflect a polytheistic more than a monotheistic Christology or Christianity” (The Task of Old Testament Theology: Method and Cases [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995] 7, n. 5).
109 Neither Marcion and nor the Gnostics were monotheists. Hence, the decision to retain the ot was simultaneously a reassertion of monotheism as the indispensable presupposition of Christian faith. For an example of how the ot's witness to monotheism functioned as a constraint upon the development of trinitarian doctrine, see Gregory of Nyssa, “Concerning We Should Think of Saying that There are Not Three Gods to Ablabius,” The Trinitarian Controversy (trans. William G. Rusch; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980) 151.
110 James Barr identifies the usual false dichotomy at work here: “It is sometimes said that the historical relation between the Old and New Testaments is not in question, but that the problem lies in stating a theological relation. The theological relation, however, cannot be the formation of connections other than the historical; it must rather be the seeing of theological values in the historical connections” (Old and New in Interpretation: A Study of the Two Testaments [London: SCM, 1966] 31).
111 Ogden submits that “the key” to answering the question of the ot lies in “the insight that the writings of the Old Testament contain the most fundamental presuppositions … of the Jesus-kerygma. … But if this is correct, there is no doubt that the Old Testament, in its way, is also a theological authority, nor does using it as such pose any particular difficulty” (Ogden, “The Authority of Scripture for Theology,” 66–67).
112 “The Dogmatics of the History-of-Religions School,” 93.
113 Ernst Troeltsch, The Christian Faith (trans. Garrett E. Paul; Fortress Texts in Modern Theology; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991) 85. Though Troeltschs's dogmatics follows Schleiermacher's model, it includes a discussion of “The Religious Significance of the History of Israel” (85–86).
114 “The Dogmatics of the History-of-Religions School,” 108, n. 5.
115 Van A. Harvey, “A Word in Defense of Schleiermacher's Theological Method,” JR 42 (1962) 153.
* I wish to express my gratitude to Douglas Ottati, Ted Vial, Richard Crouter, Dawn DeVries, and Vicky Gaylord for their helpful criticisms of earlier drafts of this essay.
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