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Walter Bauer
Walter Bauer (August 8, 1877 ‚Äď November 17, 1960) was a Germanmarker theologian and scholar of the development of the early Christian church.

Life

Bauer was born in Königsbergmarker, East Prussia, and raised in Marburgmarker, where his father was a professor. He studied theology at the universities of Marburgmarker, Strassburg, and Berlinmarker. Bauer taught at Breslaumarker and Göttingenmarker, where he later died.

Teachings

In his Rechtgl√§ubigkeit u. Ketzerei im √§ltesten Christentum (T√ľbingenmarker 1934; translated as Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity 1971), Bauer developed his thesis that in earliest Christianity, orthodoxy and heresy do not stand in relation to one another as primary to secondary, but in many regions heresy is the original manifestation of Christianity. Bauer reassessed as a historian the overwhelmingly dominant view that for the period of Christian origins, ecclesiastical doctrine already represented what is primary, while heresies, on the other hand somehow are a deviation from the genuine (Bauer, Introduction).

Bauer's translator, Robert A. Kraft, characterized his sophisticated, nuanced writing style, which
"presents a complex and frustrating problem for the translator who hopes to capture something of the "tone" or "flavor" of the original as well as representing accurately its content. Bauer writes in a dynamic and highly sophisticated manner, mixing precision with irony and even insinuation, pictorial language with careful presentation of the historical evidence, hypotheses and caveats with the subtle use of overstatement and understatement in cleverly nuanced expressions. His German is literary but not necessarily formal. Long sentences with closely interrelated parts appear alongside brief, sometimes cryptic or oblique comments couched in clever, often scholarly German idiom. Frequently the presentation flows along rapidly in an exciting manner, despite the difficulties of the subject matter‚ÄĒ but its flow is such that the motion is difficult to capture in translation, and is sometimes even difficult to follow in the original."


Through studies of historical records Bauer concluded that what came to be known as orthodoxy was just one of numerous forms of Christianity in the early centuries. It was the form of Christianity practiced in Rome that acquired the majority of converts over time. This was largely due to the greater resources available to the Christians in Rome and due to the conversion to Christianity of the Roman Emperor Constantine I. Practitioners of what became orthodoxy then rewrote the history of the conflict making it appear that this view had always been the majority one. Writings in support of other views were systematically destroyed.

Bauer's conclusions contradicted nearly 1600 years of writing on church history and thus were met with much skepticism among Christian academics such as Walther Völker (see below).

The cultural isolation of Nazi Germany precluded a wider dissemination of Bauer's ideas until after World War II; Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei was finally translated into English in 1970 and published in 1971. In the international field of biblical scholarship, Bauer continued to be known solely as the compiler of the monumental Wörterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments (in its English translation A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature or simply the Bauer lexicon), which has become standard.

See also



References

  • Walter Bauer, 1971. Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress) ISBN 0-8006-1363-5. Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (on-line text in English)
  • Bart D Ehrman, 2002. Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication (Chantilly VA: The Teaching Company) , Lesson 19, pg 28.


Early criticism



Further reading

  • Daniel J. Harrington, "The Reception of Walter Bauer's Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity During the Last Decade," in Harvard Theological Review 73 (1980): 289-98.



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