Parables for Our Time: Rereading New Testament Scholarship After the Holocaust

Hardcover | April 15, 2002

byTania Oldenhage

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Over the centuries, New Testament texts have often been read in ways that reflect and encourage anti-Semitism. For example, the parable of the "wicked husbandmen," who kill the son of their landlord in order to seize the land, has been used to blame the Jews for the death of Christ. Since theHolocaust, Christian scholars have increasingly recognized and rejected this inheritance. In Parables for Our Time Tania Oldenhage seeks to fashion a biblical hermeneutics that consciously works with memories of the Holocaust. New Testament scholars have not directly confronted the horror of Nazi crimes, Oldenhage argues, but their work has nonetheless been deeply affected by the events of the Holocaust. By placing twentieth-century biblical scholarship within its specific historical and cultural contexts, she is able totrace the process by which the Holocaust gradually moved into the collective consciousness of New Testament scholars, both in Germany and in the United States. Her focus is on the scholarly interpretation of the parables of Jesus. She sets the stage with the work of Wolfgang Harnisch who exemplifiesthe problems surrounding Holocaust remembrance in the Germany of the 1980s and 1990s. She then turns to Joachim Jeremias's eminent work on the parables, first published in 1947. Jeremias's anti-Jewish rhetoric, she argues, should be understood not only as a perpetuation of an age-old interpretivepattern, but as representative of German difficulties in responding to the Holocaust immediately after the war. Oldenhage goes on to explore the way in which Jeremias's approach was challenged by biblical scholars in the U.S. during the 1970s. In particular, she examines the turn to literature andliterary theory exemplified in the works of John Dominic Crossan and Paul Ricoeur. Nazi atrocities became part of the cultural reservoir from which Crossan and Ricoeur drew, she shows, although they never engaged with the historical facts of the Holocaust. In conclusion, Oldenhage offers her ownreading of the parable of the wicked husbandmen, demonstrating how the turn from historical to literary criticism opens up the text to interpretation in light of the Holocaust. If the parables are to be meaningful in our time, she contends, we must take account of the troubling resonances betweenthese ancient Christian stories and the atrocities of Auschwitz.

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Over the centuries, New Testament texts have often been read in ways that reflect and encourage anti-Semitism. For example, the parable of the "wicked husbandmen," who kill the son of their landlord in order to seize the land, has been used to blame the Jews for the death of Christ. Since theHolocaust, Christian scholars have increasin...

Tania Oldenhage is Assistant Professor of Religion at Mount Union College, in Alliance, Ohio. A native of Germany, she studied Protestant theology at the Universities of Heidelberg, Marburg, and Hamburg. She received her Ph.D. from Temple University.

other books by Tania Oldenhage

Format:HardcoverDimensions:200 pages, 9.29 × 6.3 × 0.98 inPublished:April 15, 2002Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019515052X

ISBN - 13:9780195150520

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"Tania Oldenhage's book is like a breath of fresh air.... the substance of her argument leaves major milestones of New Testament scholarship in shambles."--Holocaust and Genocide Studies