Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 35:1 (Mar 1992)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology or Ideology? Reflections of a Bultmannian Turned Evangelical. By Eta Linnemann. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990, 169 pp., n.p. paper.

Talk about retractions! Augustine has nothing on Eta Linnemann. Having regarded “everything that [she] taught and wrote before [she] entrusted [her] life to Jesus as refuse,” in 1978 Linnemann literally threw into the trash (“with my own hands”) her two books and various scholarly publications. She “sincerely [asks her reader] to do the same thing with any of them you may have on your own bookshelf” (p. 20). What brought about this cataclysmic reversal by a former pupil of Bultmann, Fuchs, Gogarten and Ebeling, member of the Society for New Testament Studies, professor of NT at Marburg who now affirms inerrancy (p. 147)? By God’s grace, she says, she became aware of the deceptive and destructive nature of historical-critical theology (not just “higher criticism”; the book is mistitled [cf. pp. 83-84]), which critical methodology she now considers a sign of God’s wrath and judgment as foretold in Scripture (Rom 1:18–32; 2 Tim 4:3; 2 Thess 2:11). In short, she was born again. Today Linnemann teaches at a Bible institute in Indonesia.

The present volume is not a calm, academic analysis of the weaknesses of historical-critical theology (she is writing another book about this) but a prophetic and passionate manifesto or diatribe that is something like a combination of Tertullian and Franky Schaeffer on the one hand and Spener or Thielicke on the other: “I want to issue a long-overdue call for repentance” (p. 31). As Linnemann sees it, the present state of historical-critical theology is idolatrous, monopolistic, deplorable, radically atheistic, sacrilegious, demagogic, perverted, outrageous, shameless, and nothing short of having to do with “demonic forces” (p. 118). Linnemann does not doubt the sincerity of scholars involved in the guild (p. 109) except when scholarship really panders to vainglory. Her target is not so much individual people as it is an institutionalized method of scholarship (p. 42). Like Paul she admits she was no better than the rest—even worse—until “Jesus’ blood washed away my errors” (p. 123). The fundamental problem with historical-critical theology, she contends, is that it hinders rather than helps the proclamation of the gospel (p. 89). This it does for three reasons. First, it is anything but neutral, for it operates with unproven assumptions that control all research and inquiry (pp. 88, 107), the chief assumption being the autonomy and absolutistic character of human reason (p. 111). Those w...

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