Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ewald on the Bible and Revelation

I found the following paragraph in Baird's History of New Testament Research to be helpful. It is concerned with the thoughts of Heinrich Ewald (1803-1875):

According to Ewald, "we have had for a long time no other historical means other than the Bible by which to satisfy ourselves of the nature and content of true religion as it has been revealed." The Bible records events and experiences in which revelation has occurred. The writing was accomplished by persons, but sometimes the writers speak for others, so that the appearance in the NT of pseudonymous documents is not disquieting. In the main, the biblical record is reliable, but discrepancies (e.g., imperfections in copying) occur. The holiness of Scripture consists not in the letter but in its power to speak the word of God which is effective for human salvation... (288-59)

Later, Baird writes the following: "Ewald, with his recognition of pseudonymous documents within the canon and his acknowledgment of discrepancies in Scripture, is no biblicist" (292). Thus, I guess Jim West could not call Ewald a fundamentalist! I am sure that Ewald is resting in peace peacefully with that little bit of reassurance!

Even though Ewald was (perhaps over-)reacting to the Tübingen School, I think he expressed his opinions powerfully. He affirmed the uniqueness of the Bible as the revelation of the Word of God without blinding himself to the obvious problems therein. Much more attention should be paid to Ewald's contributions to the study of the NT!


Jim said...

Not only would I NOT call him a fundamentalist (because he wasn't) but I would agree with him. He understood the purpose of scripture far better than a fundamentalist would or does.

J. Matthew Barnes said...

I like Ewald's comments too.

I look forward to reading some more of his stuff this quarter!

Stephen C. Carlson said...

Ewald's source theory, on the other hand, with its multiple lost sources is a major headache.