Guest / Limited Access /

What is the next horizon for evangelical scholarship? Martin Hengel, one of the foremost experts on early Judaism and Christianity, explores one idea in this essay. He is professor emeritus of New Testament and early Judaism at the University of Tubingen, Germany. The most recent of his many books is The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ (Trinity, 2000).

In a time of breathtaking progress in the fields of biophysics and biochemistry, astrophysics, nanotechnology and information technology, the acceleration of our knowledge is a hyperbola striving after infinity. Our ethical consciousness and human responsibility cannot keep abreast of it.

In contrast to this scorching speed of progress, the Bible remains always the same: the canon of the Hebrew Bible has not changed since the Pharisaic rabbis of Jamnia established it in about A.D. 100. Nor has the New Testament canon changed since the 39th Easter letter of Bishop Athanasius from Alexandria, written in A.D. 367. But, one may object, our understanding of the Bible has changed. The answer to that is yes and no.

The Bible's basic spiritual importance for our faith and the Christian church remains unchanged. We have at this time no better answer to the Lord's question ("You do not want to leave too, do you?") than did Peter: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:67-68). Yet it seems that now, more so than in former centuries, we must fight an intellectual battle to ensure with Paul "that the truth of the gospel might continue to be preserved" (Gal. 2:5).

In this battle, we've had many victories. Biblical scholars can be proud of breakthroughs that resulted in an explosion of our New Testament knowledge in the last 100 to 200 years. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Tags:
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedBiblical Illiteracy by the Numbers Part 1: The Challenge
Biblical Illiteracy by the Numbers Part 1: The Challenge
How well do American Christians know their Bibles? Hint: not well.
TrendingMark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
"I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission."
Editor's PickBless This Tackle? Not a Prayer
Bless This Tackle? Not a Prayer
Christians’ misguided fight for football devotions isn’t working.
Comments
Christianity Today
Raising the Bar
hide thisOctober 22 October 22

In the Magazine

October 22, 2001

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.