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.

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