Martin Hengel: A Life In The Service Of Christology -- By: Roland Deines

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 58:1 (NA 2007)
Article: Martin Hengel: A Life In The Service Of Christology
Author: Roland Deines

Martin Hengel: A Life In The Service Of Christology

Roland Deines1


While Martin Hengel has made a huge contribution to the study of early Judaism and emerging Christianity, his work can be seen to have a more specific focus. In celebration of Professor Hengel's eightieth birthday, this retrospective survey evaluates his work in and around the field of Christology, which can be seen as the centre and purpose of so much of his thinking.

What I mean, however, is that no greater thought has been conceived than that of the one God who, for the salvation of all, became a human being in Jesus of Nazareth and who gave up his life for all.

(Martin Hengel)

The task is delicate. How should a student introduce the work of his teacher when the teacher is distinguished from the student precisely by being superior to him in insight, knowledge and understanding? And let alone the work of Martin Hengel, which we find in numerous, magnificent volumes that are both extensive and rich in content, and beyond this in a plethora of articles that hardly permit an overview;2 a

work whose richness is far from being exhausted and which when read again always evokes wonder at the breadth of learning contained therein. As his student, one realises in this rereading that what one thought was original to oneself already appears somewhere in the work of the teacher, in a footnote or passing remark, a secret undisturbed seed, as it were, which, unnoticed by the reader himself, grew up in his own thinking and brought forth fruit. To introduce the work of such a teacher can therefore only mean to stimulate colleagues, friends and skeptics to do something good for themselves and to make it their duty to work through a selection of Hengel regularly. This expands one’s horizon and gives one a desire for more. Hengel’s works are ‘theological contributions’ in the best sense of the word,* which present intellectual and spiritual food in the sense of Hebrews 5:14.3

At the same time one is faced with the question of how the requested introduction should be organised: should it present the most important arguments chronologically or order them under broadly defined headings? Hengel himself describes his work as the effort ‘to address contested topics and at the same time to penetrate into overlooked or neglected areas’.4 This self-ch...

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