Contemporary Bible Movements -- By: Arnold D. Ehlert

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 104:415 (Jul 1947)
Article: Contemporary Bible Movements
Author: Arnold D. Ehlert

Contemporary Bible Movements

Arnold D. Ehlert


From time to time in the history of the church there have been what one might call ‘back-to-the-Bible’ movements. These of course register the obvious fact that the church has from time to time gotten away from the Bible as the center of its message and study. The current decade is witnessing such a movement in many parts of the world, and, while the roots of it lie further back, the flowering and fruitage are unfolding before our eyes. This trend is to be observed in theological circles, as evidenced by a perusal of the periodicals today as against ten years or twenty years ago, and in some new Biblical theologies coming out in our own country now, but to a greater extent abroad. The airwaves are full of Bible messages—some good, some not so good. Literature that seeks to interpret the Bible and stimulate interest and study in it is appearing with astonishing consistency and wide coverage. The Bible movements themselves are but a part of the larger trend toward a renewed consideration of the Bible, but they are of great importance and deserve being introduced formally to the world. As we are able to complete data on the various ones that have gained national or international prominence, we shall present them here.

I. The Swiss Catholic Bible Movement

Die Schweizerische Katholische Bibelbewegung (SKB) began in 1935 largely as a result of the work of Msgr. Dr. Straubinger of Stuttgart, who had two years before started a Katholische Bibelwerk in Germany. For some years the Italian dioceses had pursued something similar in response

to the encouragement of Pope Benedict XV in his Hieronymus Encyclical of 1920. The Swiss bishops met in Einsiedeln on September 17, 1935, and laid the groundwork for the organization. The movement appealed to those priests who leaned toward personal Biblical studies and who were finding the Bible helpful in their personal devotional life and in their pastoral ministrations. In the year 1936 it counted 243 members, which number grew to 653 in 1941 and to 1231 in 1944. The work was mainly centered in Basel, Chur and St. Gallen. Theological students were encouraged to join. Meetings were held at different places in 1935, 1936, 1939, 1943, and 1945 with from 52 to 150 in attendance. At the Zürich meeting of 1936 a course in instruction for leaders of evening Bible classes (Bibelabende) was given. Other appropriate subjects for addresses and discussions characterized the other meetings. The movement first aimed at providing an opportunity for pastors to get together and further their Biblical interests, but Biblical specialists were found to be needed, and a Council (Wissenschaftlicher Beirat) was orga...

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