A Reply To Gerhard Mayer: A Review Article -- By: John Piper

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 22:1 (Mar 1979)
Article: A Reply To Gerhard Mayer: A Review Article
Author: John Piper

A Reply To Gerhard Mayer: A Review Article

John Piper*

The End of the Historical-Critical Method. Gerhard Maier. St. Louis: Concordia, 1977.

Das Ende der historisch-kritischen Methode by Gerhard Maier appeared in Germany in 1974 and in the following year went through a second and third edition. In 1975 Peter Stuhlmacher, NT scholar at the University of Tübingen did this book the honor of devoting a whole excursus to it in his own Schriftauslegung auf dem Wege zur biblischen Theologie (Göttingen, 1975), The central essay of Stuhlmacher’s book including his response to Maier is now translated as Historical Criticism and Theological Interpretation of Scripture (Fortress, 1977).

The pastorally oriented bimonthly journal, Theologische Beitrfge, edited by Otto Michel in Tübingen has done us a great service in providing a forum for the discussion that has continued to develop since Maier’s book was published. In 1976 Helgo Lindner responded to the Stuhlmacher-Maier controversy with an article entitled “Widerspruch oder Vermittlung? Zum Gespräch mit G. Maier und P. Stuhlmacher fiber eine biblische Hermeneutik” (Theol. Belt. 7 [1976] 185-197). Then in 1977 Stuhlmacher responded to Lindner briefly with “Bib-lische Theologie und kritische Exegese” (Theol. Beit. 8 [1977] 88-90), as did Maier with “Einer biblischen Hermeneutik entgegen? Zum Gespräch mit P. Stuhlmacher und H. Lindner” (Theol. Belt. 8 [1977] 148-160). In this article Maier sharpened the focus of his criticism and directed some pointed queries to Stuhlmacher.

In January 1978 a group of theology students at the University of Tübingen, coming from a tradition described as “pietistisch, erwecklich, evangelikal, Gemeinschaftsbewegung,” brought together Maier and Stuhlmacher for an evening of discussion. The questions clustered around the issues of “Mitte der Schrift bzw. Kanon im Kanon,” “Hermeneutik der Schrift” (e.g., “new birth” and hermeneutics) and “Wertigkeit der Schrift.” The authorized protocol of the discussion appeared in Theol. Beit. 9 (1978) 222-234.

One other essay should be mentioned in this context. In his article, “Hauptprobleme und Chancen kirchlicher Schriftauslegung” (Theol. Beit. 9 [1978] 53-69), Stuhlmacher provides what is, in my opinion, the clearest statement of his hermeneutical position over against the radical historical critics and over against Gerhard Maier. He devotes long footnotes to answering Maier’s earlier queries.

One implication we may draw from this increasingly lively and widespread debate in Germany is that a book like Maier’s The End of the Historical-Critical Method cannot be ignore...

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