Saturday, February 21, 2015

History of Printed Greek NT Texts 2: 1700-1800

Main Printed Greek New Testaments,
with Key Textus Receptus Editions highlighted in Green

The 16th century saw the first printed Greek New Testaments, based on Erasmus' work (1516-22), but corrected and improved by the comparison of more manuscripts which came to hand.

The three great series of Editions, by Stephen (1550), Beza (1565-97), used alongside Stephen's text for the King James Authorized Version of 1611,
and Elzevir's several printings (1624-33), provided ready and accurate copies of the 'Textus Receptus' (the Received Text, or TR) so that the New Testament could be translated afresh into many European languages.

The Reformation began with a good solid text that hardly needed much correction, in spite of the narrow manuscript base (good but later handwritten Greek copies). 

However, many small problems and questions remained, especially as more manuscripts and versions (translations) came to light or were put under the magnifying glass.

It was John Mill (1707) who painstakingly collected all the variant readings and collations of the increasing number of manuscripts available, and published the first bona fide Critical Greek Text and Apparatus, putting all the readings of the most important streams of tradition into the hands of translators and scholars.

...the Anglican theologian John Mill (1645-1707) embarked on the monumental task of putting together a critical version of the Greek NT. He used the text of Stephen (1550), except for a few places, “whether by accident or design” (per Scrivener), and added a list of the vast number of variants at the bottom of each page. This was a bold step indeed. Mill began the work with a Prolegomena in Latin that laid out valuable information and gave his method in listing the readings. ... Scrivener remarks: “Of the criticism of the New Testament in the hands of John Mill it may be said, that he found the edifice of wood, and left it marble.” Mill’s work was not without its faults. Bristol notes, “It is true that his collations were not always correct, but the errors were usually in collations made by others rather than in those made by himself.

This kicked off the 18th century with a bang.

Wetstein (1717-1735) re-Edited and published a Second Edition, updated, corrected and expanded John Mill's apparatus and footnotes, resulting in a further leap in advance of knowledge of the state of  the manuscript traditions.
 J.J. Wetstein in his Greek Testament of 1751 estimates that there were 10,000 errors in Mill.

Finally, Wetstein crowned the work with his own Two Volume Folio Edition,
completely redone to his own standards and grasp, after many years of intensive research and collations.

Wetstein's (1751-52) Final Edition was the Crowning Jewel of the 18th century,
and this work would not be significantly surpassed in essential content and accuracy, even by Tregelles' and Tischendorf's similar attempts in the 19th century.
All others publishing 'critical Greek NT's, pale in comparison to this monumental work by Wetstein, and look like amateurish and crude plagarisms and fads,
including Greisbach, Lachmann, Hort, Baljon, Nestle.

This can be easily demonstrated photographically.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Why is Textual Criticism such a Massive FAIL? (Part 1)

Laymen get it.  Non-textual critics get it.  Historians get it.  Even little old ladies with no education or training, or even religious instruction, get it.

True story:  I was questioned by nice church lady the other day, about why Textual Criticism was important.  So I explained the idea of the textual history of the Bible, the discovery of ancient manuscripts, the careful collating of readings in critical editions, the basis of English translations, etc.   I told her the basis for the many terse footnotes and brackets, found in modern Bibles.

Her response: "Oh, I never bother with the footnotes.  I know they are nonsense.  Just read them yourself, you can see they are garbage."   She went on to explain that Christians don't really pay attention to scholars, because they know they are wolves in cheap clothing, unbelievers, and mere critics.

I won't say I was floored.  But the extent of this 'intuitive knowledge' and instant invalidation of all things text-critical is actually quite sweeping inside live, vibrant churches.  Ordinary Christians just don't give textual critics any credibility whatever.  The Bible simply has more authority than academia. And this is true in spite of most Bishops, Priests, pastors and church officials being accredited (and often faithless) academics.

Textual critics and other academics might dismiss this as mere bigotry, or ignorance, or magical thinking.  But actually its a stunning example of intuitive grasp of the real crisis in Textual Criticism (Biblical) and many other professions, as we stumble into the 21st century.

It seems that the 'lay-church' has always had little use for academics, and apparently even for church authorities.  The grassroots 'church' just carries along, with or without professors, commentators, leaders, simply thriving and nuturing itself ultimately on the text alone. 

The Problem in Simple Terms

On the one hand, we have never had better access to manuscripts, data, history, and the process of textual transmission than we do now.   And we have never had so much science, tools for analysis, and brain-power than we do today.

On the other hand, never has this 'science' of Textual Criticism been more confused about the 'original text' of the Bible.  In fact, its even uncertain of any kind of scientific procedure for how to proceed to discover it.  And doubt has extended in a sweeping manner not only to whether original texts can even be discovered, but whether they ever existed at all.

And never in the history of Biblical Criticism has the entire field of Biblical studies had less prestige and less scientific credibility than now.   The sad part is they've earned this lack of credibility in spades.

The Sad History of Textual Criticism

This will be a unique but terse explanation of what went wrong and why.

1400s  -  With the invention of printing, and unprecedented opportunities for literacy, people turned away from the previously necessary task of hand-copying texts, to establishing a uniform, universal printed Bible, at least for each language.   Two tasks were immediately recognized: (a) the establishment of the original text, (b) the translating of it into the main languages.

At the same time, the political climate created by the previous Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Reformation brought out the problems and complexities of the growth of scientific and free thought against dogmatism and abuse of authority. 

1500s -  It also became apparent that establishing the original text would not be as simple as thought.   Errors and inaccuracies had crept into copies and needed to be spotted and removed.   This became a more and more unwieldy task, as more copies (and variants) came to light.  Early work of Erasmus, John Mill, Beza, etc., resulted in the establishment of a consensus text, the Traditional or Received Text for the New Testament, while for the Old Testament the Hebrew was used by Protestants, largely bypassing the Latin Vulgate.

But a method for the selection process for readings had yet to be developed.

This was of great concern because the Bible was used as an authority for the correction of the political abuse of power, and was an effective tool in the Reformation of the Christian Churches. 

1600s - The Bible, and the default Received Text became the cultural property of every nation who received it, that is, most of Western Europe, and the Protestant countries.  It provided a common ground and mind-set for interpreting the world.  It was used as an authority to appeal to, and argue and reason about differences in religious interpretation.

1700 - 1900s - Growing uncertainty in regard to the Bible text, (mainly from collation of textual variants), diminished the overall authority of the Bible for many, just as science began to develop and grow as an apparent alternative to religious dogma.   Unfortunately, a reliable and convincing method for establishing the Bible text was still very slow in developing.   At the same time, the problem of collating the many hand-copies had grown beyond the abilities of one person to manage.   The last two great collators of manuscripts were Tregelles and Tischendorf, but 19th century "methods" of Textual Criticism were largely eclectic and coloured by scepticism about Catholic tradition.

By the late 1800s, scepticism as an early part of 'scientific attitude' and scepticism of historical claims in particular had led to a de facto approach of constructing a minimalist text based on rejecting any variants that might be possible additions or accumulative editing.   From Wetstein's original doubt (1752), to Lachmann's deletion program (1831), to Tischendorf's flip-flopping (1869) and finally Hort's stubborn scepticism (1882), ratified by Nestle (1904) and promoted by Metzger, and only slightly modified by Aland (1960), we arrived at the 'standard critical text' of the UBS series, used for most 20th century 'modern' English translations.

But when all was said and done, no credible scientific Text-critical method had actually been developed.  Only a stoic scepticism inspired by 19th century materialist science and anti-Catholicism had saturated the field with a minimalist approach, entrenched by simply upholding the status quo for nearly 100 more years.

As the smoke cleared in the late 20th century, from the battles between traditionalists and moderns, we ended up with essentially two NT texts;
(1)  The Received Text, essentially the one used by Christians for the most recent 1,000 years, and
(2)  The Critical Text, essentially the smallest text that could be constructed, by rejecting any longer variants and accepting as original every significant omission found in the more ancient copies.

Part 2 will examine how it happened that no significant progress in textual-critical methodology was achieved, and why the text bifurcated and remains in two branches today, with loyal apologists for both sides.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Few Good Reasons to Dismiss the "Therefore, God Exists" Blog

Recently on  

 There was posted a shallow article entitled, 

They provided 8 reasons, each with a summary paragraph, which however often did not connect with the header, and contained poisonous disinformation as well:

1 – It is just a translation, not a manuscript. ... But there is nothing intrinsically valuable about holding fast to the King James Version. 

Comment: Why wouldn't there be something intrinsically valuable, for instance if it were a decent, relatively unbiased translation of a very accurate text?  
Most detractors of the KJV do so because they have a hidden agenda:  They really want to promote an alternate version, such as the NASV (see 2 below!).  Their own lack of connection to the 400 year old English Bible is apparent, when they themselves admit they don't understand it (2), don't use it (3), value "older manuscript" texts more highly (4), think its 'unreadable' (5).  
What the Christian reader of the article is not being told is that those campaigning against the traditional KJV are sponsored by Roman Catholic publishers and investors who want to promote Roman Catholic friendly translations.  They have no real concern or interest in textual issues at all. Its about translation that favours Roman Catholic doctrine.

2 – It was written hundreds of years ago. Imagine that you were transported to the year 1611 and began to interact with the people around you. They would regard your tongue as strange and foreign, even if they can generally understand what you are saying. But on a certain level, your language and theirs will make for difficulties. You would need some sort of expert to translate between the two of you. If we feel that we need to understand what men have to say, how much more do we need to understand what God has to say? Get a translator, a New King James Version perhaps, or better yet, a New American Standard Bible.

Comment: The exaggeration of the KJV text is here blatant.  The most popular KJV Bible is not the text of 1611 at all, but a revised modernized text done in the 19th century, and which has been further updated in the 20th and 21st centuries in the form of the New King James Version, and the KJV 2000 etc.  There is no problem accessing a readable, authoritative KJV text, and it certainly doesn't require a 'translator' for the modern reader to understand it.

3 – We do not use the original KJV. The original KJV was overwhelmed with errors. There were literally thousands of corrections between 1611 and 1769. We do not use the 1611 version, we use the 1769 version. For you to say that we should use the 1769 version is to concede that we need to appeal to the updates that scholars offered between 1611 and 1769. Why wouldn’t we appeal also to the updates that modern scholars offer based on the evolution of the language?

Comment:  The Bible has never been "overwhelmed by errors".  It was a readable text for those in the Byzantine Empire in Greek, and also for the Roman Empire in Latin, and finally it was an exceptionally well executed translation into English which was based on earlier work both by individuals and sanctioned editions like the Bishop's Bible.  The unique thing about the KJV was that it was commissioned and executed by a large team of university scholars from Cambridge and Oxford, and made use of the state of the art of knowledge at that time.  And few KJV advocates today would object to a "New King James Version" (NKJV) for someone wanting to read an even more modern text.

4 – We have discovered older manuscripts. When the original KJV was written, we did not have nearly as many translations as we have now. We have discovered thousands of manuscripts used by the early church. In some cases, the translation rendered by the KJV needs to be overridden by the new manuscripts. For example, part of 1 John 5:7-8 is not present in the majority of the oldest manuscripts.

Comment:  This is largely misleading, since the older texts were available for comparison even in the 15th century, and ALL Protestant Bibles from Luther to Calvin to King James have been based on "critical texts" of both the Old and New Testaments.  The scholars of the last 4 centuries were well aware of both the content and the problems of the supposed "older and better manuscripts"
One can read these two articles with profit on that subject:

W. Pickering (2009) Oldest = Best MSS? - early errors
T. Holland (2009) "Oldest & Best MSS" - & Byzantine

5 – The King James Version is unreadable. Due to the evolution of language, we often just cannot understand what the author is expressing. 1 Samuel 5:12 reads, “The men that died not were smitten with the emerods.” What is an emerod? Luke 17:9 says, “Doth he thank the servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.” I trow not? Psalm 5:6 says “Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing.” Does God dislike realtors? There are many examples of this. Would it not make more sense if this were translated into our native language?

Comment:  The modern reader largely escapes these supposed difficulties by simply using a well annotated text with marginal notes, just as one would do using a "modern" version.   In regard to the 19th century text (no one uses the 1611), there is a list available of a 100 words or so that have somewhat changed meaning over the centuries, and could be potentially misleading.  But anyone who loves the Bible will naturally be interested enough in these things to make use of such handy quick-lists, such as this one here:

KJV Word List
- key word updates

6 – We do not force non-English speakers to read the King James Version. When we want to share the word of God with non-English speaking people, we do not tell them that they need to learn 1611 English. We do not translate the Bible into 1611 Chinese and give it to the Chinese. We translate it from Greek into their common language. Why do we not do the same for ourselves? 

Comment:  Another red herring.  No KJV advocate uses the 1611 version, so why even discuss it?

7 – The King James Version has been abused. There are many people who attempt to say that the King James Version is the only version of the Bible that we can use. Bordering on bibliolatry, this idea causes division and strive within the body of Christ. While the KJV has a great part in the history of the Scripture, it would be better if this movement would just fade into irrelevancy. Perhaps to do that, we can just popularize the other, better, modern translations.

Comment:  Unity of agreement on the historical text does not promote division or 'bibliolatry', a word coined by opponents of a fixed biblical text to imply that stability of text and defending the traditional text is some kind of 'idolatry'.  What really causes division is when promoters of radical changes to the text spread disinformation about the true state of the Bible text and its reliability.

8 – There are better translations. Teams of scholars have carefully executed the processes of textual criticism upon the oldest versions of the Greek manuscripts that we have (older than that used by the KJV translators). They now offer us a translation of the Bible that is easier to understand without compromising the biblical data. The NASB is a reliable, formula (word-for-word) translation for us to use.

 Comment:  A far more honest statement would be to say that there are often useful and novel renderings in modern versions which may give insights or be more appealing to modern readers.  This is not a question of "superiority" of translation generally, because at least as often as they improve clarity, modern translators create confusion, blur the meaning, or introduce ambiguity in the text that previously did not even exist.  There is no "better translation", and the modern reader should beware of other issues, such as the liberty that modern translators take with the text to express their own interpretations, and perhaps more importantly, their unsound reliance upon inferior texts and reconstructions because they are 'novel' and represented by 'older copies'. 

Its at least as important what reconstructed text you are translating from, as it is how well you translate it. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Translation is not a Secular Matter

Sometimes the obvious escapes us as Christians.
The following picture however is worth a thousand words,
as to what is wrong with modern Bible translating.
As if it could be done as one would translate a political speech,
or a fiction novel about ordinary and mundane subjects.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Translations in a Nutshell

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kittel's AntiSemitism and O.T. Sabotage (cont.)

Gerhard Kittel: Nazi Racial Propagandist

We here follow up with an epitome of the important discussion of Gerhard Kittel and his distortion of the O.T. text (adopted to this day by modern versions). Here are important excerpts from R. P. Ericksen's Theologians under Hitler (Yale U. Press, 1985), Chapter II:
"One clue is that [Kittel] was a National Socialist.  ...Kittel was a charter member [of the Nat. Inst. for the History of the New Germany], and he gave his expertise and reputation to the [Research Section on the Jewish Question] from 1936 onward.
In 1947...J.R. Porter (Theology) praises Kittel's "profound biblical scholarship" with no reference at all to his unseemly politics.  ... German historians have shown little interest in Kittel.  [But] his self-proclaimed role as theological expert on the 'Jewish Question' make him an important figure, especially under [the Nazi] regime.
...[Historian] L. Siegele-Wenschkewitz (1978) makes several mistakes; discuss 'Gerhard Kittel and the Jewish Question' and ignore his increasingly harsh work after 1933 is at best misleading. ...[she] also ignores much of the harshness of Die Judenfrage, harshness which Kittel himself acknowledged and justified, pleading with [German] Christians not to become sentimental or soft.
  She says, 'From a sympathizer of the presumably moderate Fuhrer, he became an opponent of the National Socialist politics of destruction.'  ...It seems clear that after a short time Kittel saw the error of his ways.  she concludes that Kittel's chief error was to misunderstand Hitler and his real attitude towards Christianity.  [Yet] there is very little evidence that Kittel experienced a change of heart prior to 1945, despite the abundant evidence [available to him] to correct his misunderstanding.
Kittel produced a body of work between 1933 and 1944 filled with hatred and slander towards Jews and warmly supportive  of National Socialist anti-Jewish policies (Siegle-Wenschkewitz has acknowledged this more recently).
...He took an evil stance.  It may or may not have been proper to try, convict and imprison Kittel in 1945. ... But it is relatively easier to conclude that Kittel was wrong, whether or not he was criminally guilty.  ...
He was linked to the single most objectionable aspect of Hitler's reign, the Jewish policy.  On both counts Kittel was singularly and distinctly wrong. ...
(Ericksen, p. 28-31)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Shopping for a NT Text-Critical Theory

Imagine if you will, a world where sound collides with color, where the boundaries of time and space are blurred, and where the improbable and impossible thrive, and coexist side by side.    Yet this is no dreamworld... its the everyday world of the New Testament Textual Critic.  Of course you knew that already.

But now let us suppose an even more fantastic occurrence: truth in advertising.  Imagine all the glitz and packaging has been stripped away;  the misdirection, the sleight of hand, the magician's banter, the sexy assistant, the clever lighting, all removed, leaving all offerings naked and vulnerable, their ugly secrets exposed.

In such a world, open to the sunshine, the 'goods' dangle lamely, completely transparent to the buyer.  Let us enter, and find what proposals await the Christian who searches for the normally elusive and difficult to identify 'word of God', in its purest and most direct form.


 Door # 1The Traditional Text.
It is called the "Textus Receptus" (TR), the Byzantine Text-type (Byz.), the Majority Text, the Traditional Text, the Antiochian, the "Syrian", the Lucian Recension, and the 'Late text', almost interchangeably, depending upon who is talking and when. 1

Even most of its detractors will admit that this NT text has been used by Christians throughout Europe from Spain to Russia, for at least a thousand years, from the 9th century to the 19th, with very little variation.   It has been used by Greek Orthodox, by Roman Catholics in Latin translation, and even accepted by Protestants for some 400 years from 1500 to 1900.   It is admitted to be the text found in most of the 5,000 surviving handwritten Greek copies, and 20,000 Latin copies, spanning this period.    

But it has its problems:

(1)  There is no complete copy of this text older than the 4th century.  Most of its 'readings' can be traced back to the 2nd century, through papyri, 'Versions' (early translations) and early Christian writers (ECWs), but there is no complete copy for this text in its entirety.   Earlier witnesses seem to show instead wild 'mixed texts' with individual readings coexisting alongside rival readings of other text-types.

(2)  A few standard verses lack the support of a majority of witnesses.  For instance, the infamous Johannine Comma (1st Jn 5:7-8) and a verse or two in Acts have little support from any Greek manuscripts.

(3)  The Traditional Text has some secondary features.  The text appears to have evolved slightly, with grammatical and stylistic changes reflecting the Greek language as it was later used.  This places a 'layer' over the text, and distances it from the presumed 'original'.   Spelling and syntax have been standardized over time, removing some of the idiosyncrasies of individual writers and early form, making it somewhat 'artificial'.   Possibly even a few readings have been harmonized with parallel passages.


 Door # 2The Critical Text.
 Also known as the "Alexandrian", Egyptian, Uncial, or 'Neutral' text.  This text has been constructed mainly or almost exclusively from favorite 4th century Uncial manuscripts (the oldest available in the 19th century), notably, Codex B (Vatican 1209) and codex א (Sinaiticus).  The theory was, older was better, and closer to the original.

The main problems with this text are:

(1)  The 'critical' text ignores the text contained in 95% of manuscripts. All the later copies are dismissed as 'secondary' and ignored.  This in effect forms a claim against the NT used by the majority of Christians throughout history.  The presumption is that the original text was interpolated and altered so badly that it was essentially 'lost', preserved only in a few unused documents.   For extreme Protestants, marginalized sects, and even atheists, this is not so hard to swallow.  The NT supposedly suffered the same fate as ordinary books that were hand-copied.  But to buy this, one must abandon any distinct doctrine of Providential Preservation or Divine guidance granted by God to Christians.  The 'originals' are presumed lost, and any text now reconstructed is neither original nor 'inspired'.   The critical text is a conscious rejection of the traditional text (see above).   It necessarily involves limiting 'divine inspiration' to the (now lost) autographs, and downgrading the authority of currently printed Bibles of every type.

(2)  The 'critical' text is riddled with errors.  There is little doubt that critics have succeeded in collecting together many common readings from the 2nd to 4th centuries.  Unfortunately, many of these, while legitimately reflecting earlier texts, are quite obviously scribal blunders.  Critics have not so much reconstructed 'the early text', as they have compiled a catalog of genealogically propagated boners.  The main principle used, "Prefer the Shorter Reading", was supposed to be based on scribal habits, but it is now known that scribes tended to accidentally omit lines 2 to 10 times as often as they 'interpolated'.

(3) The 'critical' text ignores the earliest evidence.  Subsequent discoveries in the last century have provided many early papyri and fragments, averaging 100 or more years earlier than 4th century Uncial copies.  If the same principles were applied today (i.e., use only the oldest MSS, prefer the shorter reading) we would have a quite different 'critical text'.  The new text however would still be basically an Egyptian text, because all the papyri come from Egypt.  The early evidence is simply too narrow geographically.

(4)  There is no reason for Christians to switch to the critical text.  Since the critical text cannot be shown to be 'better' in any significant way than the traditional text, there is no reason to prefer it over the text that Christians have used for nearly a thousand years.  Nevertheless, most 'modern' translations are based on this poorly constructed and now outdated text.


 Door # 3Make Your Own Text.

Since the first two options above are really the only game in town, the only third option for the savvy shopper is to reconstruct his own text.  This is not impossible, but one may wonder what kind of result will follow.

Here are the Problems with Option 3:

(1)  The Individual becomes Judge over the text.  The obvious danger and temptation is for the individual to simply pick and choose readings he or she likes, and reject unpopular readings.  The NT becomes a 'salad bar', and each individual creates his own 'Bible'.   One can see that even if relatively well-done, the text is being filtered through individual bias and ignorance.

(2)  The Authority of the Text is eroded.  Its hard not to see that the very nature of what a 'Bible' is will change, if individuals are allowed to customize their own texts to any great extent.  'Heed the word of the Lord' becomes now 'Choose what you will heed from the Lord.'

(3)  The Nature of Faith and Belief is Altered.  One's belief about the Bible would be fundamentally changed.  One now must adopt a belief that 'the Bible' is more like a quest, an archaeological dig, or a treasure-hunt.  One no longer believes in a publicly delivered clear and common message from God to all.  It is now something akin to 'cat and mouse', with a personalized individual message, differing from person to person.

Welcome, to ...the Twilight Zone.

"Walk while ye have the light, 
lest darkness come upon you:
..while ye have light, 
believe in the light,
that ye may be the children of light." (John 12:35-36)

1. To be fair, many will meticulously document distinctions between these terms, both in specific readings, and in real or imagined histories and pedigrees. But when all is said and done, every permutation and edition, every 'version' of this text, is to all intents and purposes virtually identical in content. Even with some 6,000 variants between manuscripts, even with a few stunning differences (e.g., 1st Jn 5:7-8), a person would be hard-pressed to come up with a really critically important difference among the witnesses and editions of this text. Most variants don't significantly affect actual translation, and the few that do amount to a mere handful of minor disputes. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The NAZIs and the NIV (New International Version)

Kittle, Nazi Theologian

The following excerpt is from a U.S. Christian Bible site:

Is the NIV really the Nazi Inspired Version...?

So what is the Nazi connection with the NIV?
If you look in the introduction and preface of the NIV so called Bible, you will see a reference to Kittels Theological dictionary.

Kittel's Theological greek dictionary is a standard of the modernist liberal Bible seminarys.

Kittel was a Nazi under Hitler.
Kittel was a friend of Hitler and a member of the Nazi party!
To Join the Nazi party you had to swear allegiance to Adolf Hitler. (I prefer Jesus thank you)
Kittel was an early member of the Nazi party and was jailed for war crimes at the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal after WWII.

Perhaps Your Pastor uses this nazi for his Theological dictionary to tell him what greek words mean in the new testament...

The watchtower society (Jehovah's Witnesses) uses the same exact manuscripts to give them " NEW LIGHT " I guess the light they see is from the angel of light that fell from heaven...
so would you trust the jehovah's witnesses for your Bible -  their founder and the watchtower used to rely upon the KJV until they decided the Nazi Bible was better....

Do you trust a fiend, oops friend of Hitler to define the words of the Bible...?

This is serious!
Look in the intro and preface to your NIV (Nazi Inspired Version) and see Kittel's name as a source.

Book Review and Documentation

Theologians Under Hitler:
Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus, and Emmanuel Hirsch
By Robert P. Ericksen
New Haven, Yale University Press, 1985. 245 pp. .00.
ASIN: 0300029268

(This book is also acknowledged as historically accurate by the ADL)
- this is too well documented to be false!

Ericksen here presents his interpretation of the work and thought of three of Germany's great Protestant theological thinkers who supported Adolf Hitler. It is a most revealing study. He attempts throughout the work to understand how these three could have lent support to Hitler. He reviews the social setting of the Weimar Republic, deals with what he calls the crisis of modernity, and offers an interpretation of Protestant theological developments prior to and during Hitler's rise. Then he proceeds to study the three in turn.
Ericksen is concerned to show that there is, in a certain sense, intellectual integrity in the positions held by the three scholars, a point that for him seems to raise fundamental questions about Christian theology as such.

How can a persons theology be sound and still enable one to support the monstrous thought of Adolf Hitler?

The answer to this question is not too satisfactory. There appears to this reviewer to be some lack of clarity in the very statement of the thesis. How can one separate theological thought entirely from the political, social, and cultural setting and consequences of the thought?

Christianity is claimed by Ericksen to contain strains at once anti-Jewish and anti-modern. But some of the German theologians with whom he deals (Barth, Tillich, even Bultmann in most respects) have theological constructions neither anti-Jewish nor anti-modern.

Still, this work is immensely important and instructive. We have lengthy chapters, richly documented, dealing with the three theologians. Ericksen is not himself a trained theologian, I believe, but he has reviewed theological developments prior to and during the lifetime of these three theologians and has offered his own assessment of strengths and limitations in these developments. It is most interesting to hear and ponder his evaluations, for they are sensitive and discerning over and again.

Theologians Under Hitler: Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus, and Emmanuel Hirsch

Gerhard Kittel, perhaps the best known of the three because of his editorship of the massive
(Theological Dictionary of the New Testament)
Hardcover: 1392 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 2.64 x 9.84 x 7.14
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; Abridged edition (October 1986)
ISBN: 0802824048   
Theologisches word buch zum Neuen Testament, now available in English translation,
Kittel  knew ancient Judaism very well and spent much of his life polemicizing against Jewish thought.  He was in support of a Christianity freed of Jewish elements. He always claimed not to be anti-Semitic, but simply to be doing scholarly work that revealed the sharp contrasts between Judaism and Christianity. Many scholars in Germany have also drawn the contrast too sharply, but Kittel cannot be freed of the charge of having found support in his scholarship for his Nazi position with regard to the Jews.

Emmanuel Hirsch, immensely learned in Protestant theology and a thoroughgoing apologist for Nazism, accomplished feats of scholarly work, especially in the history of Protestant thought. It is easy enough to spot the points where his Nazi views appear, but much of his work continues to be of great value.

Paul Althaus
is perhaps the most tragic of the three figures. Long associated with the Erlangen approach to theology and a great interpreter of Martin Luther, his constructive theological work aimed at showing how important the community was for an understanding of Christianity, and how central this notion of peoplehood had been for ancient Israel and was for the early Christian community-points well recognized and underscored today. But he was able to wring from this understanding a contemporary viewpoint in support of Hitler's call for peoplehood, racial purity, and land. A fine and discerning theological emphasis was perverted into a position that accommodated the Hitler movement. After the late 1930s, it appears, Althaus wrote nothing further that could easily be used for political-propagandistic purposes by the Nazis.

One reads such a study with a sense of deep sadness as well as with frequent outbursts of anger. One need not share the view of the author that any one of the three theologians under review actually made Nazism intellectually respectable. One can hardly escape the author's conclusion, however: we all have much to learn from a careful review of the life and work of the three, for such aberrations, alongside Nazism's unspeakable accompanying deeds, could occur again.

Reviewed by:

Walter Harrelson,

Vanderbilt Divinity School
Nashville, Tennessee

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How the Germans perverted the Bible

I'm reposting this short article on Kittle, because to this day modern translations use his text of the Hebrew O.T. as a basis for the Protestant Bible, including his translational suggestions through his "Hebrew Lexicon":

Monday, April 4, 2011 (Elizabeth K. Best, PhD)

Kittel a 'Minor Nazi'? Think Again: Kittel as the 'author' of 'Alien Status' for the Jews.

In Robert Ericksen's book, Theologians Under Hitler part of his delineation of Gerhard Kittel's role in the war and assessment of culpability in war crimes is his role in establishing the concept in National Socialist policy/law of the status of 'guest-citizenship' or 'alien-status'. While many in holocaust education are aware of the 'guest status' of the Jews in German Society from 1933 on, ,many are not aware of its doctrinal or theological underpinnings, nor that it was Gerhard Kittel, the editor of the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, who founded doctrinal anti-Semitism in the Third Reich, who was primarily responsible for the theological basis of 'alien status' for the Jews.

The reason Kittel's role in the establishment of 'guest-citizenship' is important is
1. It establishes Kittel's primary role as a Nazi Theologian and not just a bystander.
2. It establishes Kittel's culpability in war crimes, in subterfuge and sedition against the German Church,
3. It establishes Kittel's ideological commitment to Nazism and not merely perfunctory party membership.
4. It demonstrates the extent of doctrinal anti-Semitism which was vital to Reich Policy, and
5. It establishes at least part of the war upon the Jews as clearly doctrinal and ideological.
That it is important to establish Kittel as a loyal Nazi and not merely among the thousands who joined the ranks to keep the peace or their employment, can be seen in the role of Kittel during and following the war: though arrested at the end of the war and imprisoned for war crimes, Kittel's Dictionary of the New Testament and his father Rudolf's Biblia Hebraica, have established themselves as the primary ground for translation of all modern English bibles.To believe that translations made with the Old Testament and the accompanying lexicon by ardent anti-Semites would not produce a tainted text, with at least underpinnings of the broad stream of dejudification, would seem far more ludicrous than to take the stand of most modern bible translators, that Kittel either wasn't a Nazi, or that it had no affect on his scholarly work. That aside, though, one need consider the 'exegesis' of the platform of guest-citizenship which Kittel refers in his writing to as 'alien status' to understand that the war against the Jews was indeed a religious and ideological one and not merely a political one as many scholars would prefer to avoid being labeled 'reactionary'.

The Concept of Guest Citizenship (Alien Status).

To understand why there would even be a question of 'guest citizenship' necessitates understanding the concept of the 'Volk', the concept of 'blut und boden' or 'blood and soil' and the construct of national identities and a 'nation within a nation'.

The Volk was the German concept of the 'gestalt' or whole of the people, the german people, consisting of the conglomerate 'soul' of the people, their culture, religion, politics, society, etc as something that was a sum of the parts and yet greater than the parts. 'Volk' may be translated akin to 'folk' or people, and the concept was used throughout Nazi policy and thought. It was not a group of individuals, but the 'Volk' that would rebuild Germany and lead it to a new day and age,; it was the 'volk' that would triumph victoriously over other nations which had left Germany desolate, it was the 'Volk' which would see a restored Germany, with they as her people.

The idea of 'blut und boden' or 'blood and soil' was that a people to be a people belonged in a real and mystical sense to the land from which they hailed and in which their ancestors had lived. The tie between the German people and their land or soil was foundational in much of the thought that pervaded influential belief systems such as those of armarten society tying Germans to lineage and the land, or the 'oceanic' views of such as Gobineau and other racial scientists in which certain evolved peoples lived in certain regions: he posited that nations bordering the oceans had certain characteristics, while even Nietzsche in his formulations of the the 'Hyperboreans' posited that more evolved or racially superior peoples lived 'above Boreas' or rather in the winter climes. (Taha) Kittel would use this theme of a people and a land prominently in several writings.

The third concept is that of a 'national identity' or a nation within a nation. This is somewhat more complex than merely the concept of the 'Volk' because it entails the nature of persons of multiple nationalities living together 'under one roof', so to speak. Today, that is not a great difficulty to many, especially in the US and Great Britain as many nations have become multicultural, with those of many nationalities living side by side. The National Socialists though saw the Jews, as a separate nation, living within their nation, although many Jews, especially more liberal Jews saw themselves as German citizens, and Jews. This conflict was the issue that Kittel would take and make 'theologically acceptable' as he had with other aspects of anti-Semitism.

Kittel and 'Alien Status'

Kittel based his writings on a doctrinal treatise he had proposed even before the war. He saw the Jews as also a people characterized by 'blut und boden' and he built a biblical argument: since the Bible clearly shows God as designating the Jews as 'chosen' and 'Israel' as their promised homeland (there are a multitude of passages), the Jews, ergo, are tied to Israel. They are a people with a land, and they are so 'identity-bound' to Israel that the two are inseparable, and remained inseparable in the various exiles (e.g. the Babylonian/Assyrian exile, or the dispersion in 70ad, with a minor reign of Babylon of 8 years in Judges).
Likewise, Kittel argues, the German people are 'bound' to the 'Deutschland' , the 'Fatherland' and are not entirely the same people without being there, so that even in "Lebensraum" as Germans were sent out to 'colonize' occupied territories, they carried with them their music, culture, food, customs etc like soil in the coffin.

Kittel also argued though, that the 'Volk' and the 'Jews' could never share the same citizenship, so bound up was citizenship in their thinking with 'native land'. Kittel attempted to place the Jews as bound to Israel, and claimed later that it was a tolerant attitude, but the application was clear that it was a clever but sinister exegetical foundation for the Jews having 'alien-status' which would rob them of their German Citizenship, allowing deportation, denial of the court system, education benefits, and even already paid retirement funds and pensions. They were argued as a 'nation' within a nation, and an 'alien' one at that. While the argument bore some biblical foundation, i.e. the Jews with Israel as their homeland, it was cleverly used to create a doctrinal reason tied to other Reich philosophies which allowed the segregation, robbery, deportation and later mass killing of the Jews. It also indicates Kittel's eminent role.

Martin Buber the foremost Jewish theologian of the Shoah years, took his colleague to task over his vile rendering of the policy of 'alien status' for the Jews. The following letter shows Buber's rebuke of Kittel:

An Open Letter to Gerhard Kittel
Martin Buber

You have sent me your essay on the Jewish question, werser Herr Kollege. From the accompanying letter and from the text itself I conclude that you believe yourself to be in agreement with me; not to be sure, on your specific judgments about Judaism and your suggestions on how to treat it but on the essential issue: our basic religious commitment.
Since your statements were made publicly, I must contradict them publicly.
I need say nothing of your judgments an demands; they are the prevailing ones. I learned from your essay that which I neither knew nor suspected: that they are yours as well: that you maintain that “a member of a foreign people” has “no business in German literature.” That “if he wants to be a writer,” he should “work in a literature which is clearly marked as Jewish and which is intended for his coreligionists and Volksgenossen:” that “if his book is of general literary value and transcends that particular Volkstum,” there would be “nothing to prevent its being read by Germans in the same way that Swedish and French literature is translated and read by us.” You and the public will, I hope, understand that I have nothing to say to this or to anything of this sort in your essay: especially since you make your intention of “lending a Christian meaning to the struggle against Judaism” clear in your introduction.

Yet it is incumbent upon me to object, especially since you welcome in this lending the participation of Jews, namely those Jews who, as I, look forward to a religious renewal of Judaism. According to you the problem is whether it will be possible to arouse a living religion in that part of Jewry which says yes to alien status” The “authentic alien status”. But what you understand by “alien status” is clarified by the answer to the question of what should happen to Jewry. There you have stated that one should “resolutely and consciously preserve the historical fact” of “alien status” among nations. You explained your understanding of this in this fashion: the “right of the guest” must be sharply set off from that of the citizen; the Jew must give up “all claims to civil equality.” If he proves a “decent guest, “ “there may then come a time” when he appears only “relatively unequal” and no longer “absolutely inferior.” You take “obedience under alien status,” which according to you belongs to a pious Jewish attitude to mean that discrimination against and defamation of Judaism must be accepted in faith; that it must therefore be viewed as God’s just dispensation and as the just action of men. Hence you presuppose the identity of that which you mean by alien status with that which God, to whom we owe obedience, means by alien status with that which God, to whom we owe obedience, means by alien status, But this is not so.
That which the God of the Bible means by alien status, more correctly guest status (a ger is one who is a guest in a land), can be learned from the Pentateuch. In an extraordinary appeal, the community is admonished (Num. 15:16; Lev 24:22) “Congregation”! There shall be one law for you and for the resident guest; it shall be a law for all times throughout the generations. You and the guest shall be alike before YHVH (the LORD); the same instruction and the same rule shall apply to you and to the guest who resides among you.” Thus no discrimination! But it is not only a question of law; it is a question of love. “When a guest resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The guest who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens. You shall love him as yourself for you were guests in the land of Egypt” (Lev. 19.33f.). In Deuteronomy, with even greater emphasis, love is not only found with the dative [showing love to him] but with the accusative [loving him] in a way at once holy and paradoxical. “For YHVH your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, the awesome God, who shows no favor and takes no bribe but upholds the cause of the fatherless and the widow, who loves the guest and gives him food and clothing. You too must love the guest for you were guests in the land of Egypt” (Deut. 10:17ff.). Love of the guest is an aspect of biblical imitation Dei: As God loves the unprotected, so must you love him! The acceptance of this stance has consequences which extend to redemption and a mystery that unties all. It is said of the peace-offering which is offered by the community because of an error (Num. 15:26): “The whole Israelite community and the guest residing among them shall be forgiven for it happened to the entire people through error.”
Yet, Herr Kollege, although you quote a passage from Deuteronomy in which we read that one may not subvert the rights of the alien [Deut. 24:17] , you quote none of those passages in which we read that this right of the alien is not separate from that of the natives of the land but that both rights are the “same right.” Only if you start from this Magna Carta of biblical faith, which should be binding not only upon Israel but upon all nations among whom guests reside (or is it your belief that God no longer asks this justice and love from nations), and only if you believe that this was not abrogated by the New Testament (for how could the gospel intend a diminishing of justice and love between nation and nation?). , only then is it possible to talk in an attitude of faith of an “alien status” and of an “obedience under alien status.” However, if one does this in the seriousness of faith as a believer among the nations, then surely one must first of all inquire into the obedience of the nations.
However, an obedience under alien status as you understand it (but as God does not understand it) God does not order us to give. It does not become us to rebel against it but it does not become us either to yield to the will of a Volk as if it were the will of God. Psalm after psalm of our Book, adopted by the Church, utters an appeal to the liberator from oppression. Psalm after psalm would be blasphemy if God not only demanded of us that we should endure, but also that we resign ourselves without appeal to whatever He has ordained. We pray today as well,. The “enemy” against which the psalmist inveighs means, as we utter the psalm in prayer, not men of human powers but the original tempter, who hinders redemption in history.
“Authentic Jewry,” as you say, “remains faithful to the symbol of the restless and homeless alien who wanders the earth.” Judaism does not know of any such symbol. The “wandering Jew” is a figure of Christian legend, not a Jewish figure. Authentic Jewry is ever aware that in the very next moment the promise may be fulfilled and its wandering may end. It does not believe that is its ordered to affirm the dispersion but believes that it must prepare itself in the dispersion for the ingathering. It knows of no “tragedy willed by God” which it must needs recognize but knows only the mercy which calls man to His work.
History is no throne speech of God but His dialogue with humanity. He who does not wish to miss everything must be mindful to discern the voice of the Partner. The “historical fact” of “alien status,” the reinstatement of which you, Herr Kollege, hold to be the “solution of the Jewish question,”* is partly the question itself---God’s question to the nations and to Israel which He poses in history; partly it is the lack of an answer. TO be sure, emancipation as it took place was not the true answer either. But it does not follow from this that one must go back to that lack.

July 1933
Of the other three “attempts at solution” which you mention, extermination, assimilation and Zionism, we wish to touch upon the last only. The arguments which you put forward against Zionism are partly exaggerated. (As one who has constantly fought for a more serious consideration of Arab claims. I have the right to say that there is no ground for speaking of a “frightful violation of the fellahin) Partly they are false. I am hardly able to understand how you can hold “unemployment and need” to be prevalent in Palestine of today or how you can see in residential and agricultural cooperatives----a witnessing to collectivity and sacrifice---communistic tendencies which reflect back into “lands of culture and which wish to penetrate and poison those countries.” Finally, the the growing reality of faith within Zionism is totally unknown to you. [MARTIN BUBER]
1. In a later reply to Kittel, Buber observed that the failure of emancipations was that Jews were emancipated individually but not collectively (F.E.T.)

From: Talmadge, F.E. Disputations and Dialogue: readings in the Jewish-Christian Encounter, (1978) KTAV Publishing House,
The grave rebuke by Buber is both poignant and ironical, in that he rebukes Kittel based upon the tenets of Christ and Christianity: he holds that it is a sinister twisting of the Holy Scriptures, both the Old and New Testament. Buber could see from the outset the path the reasoning of Kittel would follow, and hence targeted Kittel as the 'theologian that made anti-Semitism theologically acceptable'.

Guest Citizenship and the Jews

While this discussion and others seems rather 'theological' or philosophical, the effect of the status 'guest citizen' had very real consequences for the German citizens who were Jews. A narrative of one account is of a retired man and his wife who had juvenile delinquents damage portions of his property during the Reich. The man was a war veteran of WWI in Germany, and had retired from university teaching. After changes were made, he called the local police who would do nothing about the incident and was bewildered. The police informed him that since he was no longer considered 'of aryan descent', he had no citizenship rights, and therefore they did not have to respond to his call at all. When he sought remedy in the courts, he found that the courts had the right to refuse the case, and that after years of work and loyalty to Germany, his mortgage and property ownership were also in question, as only aryans could own property. They were forced to flee the Berlin area. But 'guest-citizen' or 'alien-status' had other dire consequences: soon no Jewish child could attend an aryan school. No Jewish attorneys or physicians could treat any but Jewish clients. Geographical restrictions were levied and soon no Jewish person could sit on park benches or even frequent public parks. Bus riding became prohibited for all but those employed in the armaments industry, and pet ownership, and the hiring of maids and cooks was forbidden. As time wore on, there were even odd restrictions such as not allowing women to attend hairdressing salons partly in an effort to increase the separation between Jew and gentile, and partly to keep the Jews from appearing groomed and therefore appealing to their counterparts. If Jews wished to leave Germany, they had to receive permission from police departments now largely staffed by Gestapo and National Socialist party members. Church congregates who had converted to Catholicism and Protestantism from Judaism were not allowed to receive communion at the same time, and large 'tarriffs' were levied allowing the Jews to carry out of the country only about 10-15% of earnings and savings, the rest going to the Reich. In short, the 'doctrinal' base for the Reich policy turned into civil rights violations for the Jews, and untold suffering and humiliation, even before deporation to work and death camps. This is why Kittel was found guilty of war crimes, in that he had aided in the 'production' and strategy of war as well as undermining of the institution not only of the church but of the courts, universities, theological schools and other mainstays of German life.
The doctrinal argument for the Jews tied to Israel not Germany, the Jews with a different God (Marcionism), the Jewish OT scriptures as foreign and unnecessary for Christian study and practice, gave the Nazis inroads into the church on the back of one of their most notable theology professors. Kittel was clearly guilty of the subterfuge of both the citizenship rights of the Jews and of Church doctrine using it as servant to the expulsion of the Jews and denial of their civil rights. His role as a doctrinal juggernaut in the exegesis of Nazi policy cannot be denied-it lay dormant for many years as many of Kittel's writings remained unavailable and in German while his lexicon and his fathers Hebrew Bible sold worldwide.

Kittel would go on later to defend other social/political platforms of the Nazis with a doctrinal base. His integration of racial science with biblical and theological concepts would eventually come forefront. His dismissal with others of a requirement in theological education for Hebrew, placing it instead with other ancient languages, undergirds his lack of regard for anything Jewish. While Kittel argued that his was a 'non-vulgar' anti-Semitism (he held himself distinct from the type of Rosenberg and Spreicher) (Eriksen), he nonetheless provided an intellectual platform for the 'Judenrein' of Germany. The arguments that Kittel was not an ideological Nazi should fall on deaf ears, as any lay person, much less any scholar upon reading Kittel, will eventually find him to be anything but objective where the Jews are concerned.