Thursday, July 5, 2018

Do not misrepresent your sources (part 2) or Get to know your sources!

Adolf Jülicher, Die Gleichnisreden Jesu

In early May I blogged about people misrepresenting their sources. in that instance, I pointed out that people were misrepresenting views of Thomas Jefferson. 

I concluded with this admonition: 
As I tell my students, check (and recheck) your sources very carefully and do not--intentionally or unintentionally--misrepresent them.
Currently I am working on revising and adding to my 2000 book, What Are They Saying about the Parables? In the process, I am reading published reviews of recent books on the parables written by scholars and am finding errors about primary sources that should never happen.

Caveat: Everyone makes mistakes, of course. I can easily point to ones in my own books.

Some scholars who write about the Historical Jesus, for example, appear to depend upon secondary literature when they write about such classic works as David Friedrich Strauss's The Life of Jesus Critically Examined or Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus (which should happen less now that Fortress published an English edition of the first complete edition--there were some significant changes in his 1913 revision, such as the famous "wheel of the world" quote). See my WATSA Historical Jesus? if you are interested in that discussion.

The same thing happens in parable scholarship, of course, especially when people write about Adolf Jülicher's untranslated Die Gleichnisreden Jesu. 

A trivial example: I read two reviews, one of Ernest van Eck's The Parables of Jesus the Galilean and one of Klyne Snodgrass's Stories with Intent. Both of the reviews took the authors to task for getting the wrong publication dates wrong for Jülicher's works on the parables (there are also misunderstandings of Jülicher's positions, but this example is the easiest to explain).

I will not name the reviewers--I am sure that I am guilty sometimes of such errors, so humility in critiquing others is a good idea--but one of them really chides the author/proofreader for getting this "wrong."

As I point out in both WATSA Parables? and The Parables after Jesus, the dates of differ Jülicher's works differ, because of a revision and new edition with a second volume. Thus it is more likely that Eck and Snodgrass have different dates because they are referencing different editions of Jülicher's works.

Here is how I explain it in The Parables after Jesus:

Adolf Jülicher was born in Falkenberg, Germany, in 1857. He attended the University of Berlin, where he earned a doctorate in 1880, and then served as a Lutheran pastor at Rummelsburg. He also worked as a private lecturer (Privatdozent) in Berlin, and during that time wrote the first volume of his seminal work, Die Gleichnisreden Jesu (The Parables of Jesus), which was published in 1886. As a result, Jülicher was invited to join the faculty at the University of Marburg, where he remained until he retired in 1923 (the famed New Testament scholar Rudolf Bultmann was one of his students).
Die Gleichnisreden Jesu is the most famous and influential scholarly book on the parables ever written, and it inaugurated a new era in the modern research of the parables. The first volume of the work discusses interpretative issues, and the second volume, published along with a revised first volume in 1888–1889, gives detailed interpretations of all the parables found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Although many of Jülicher’s categories have been superseded by subsequent interpreters, some of his discussions still influence current debates (for much of the following, see Gowler 2000 and the sources listed there).

Here is the version of Jülicher's work that I checked out of Pitts Theology Library for my own reading/research:

Jülicher, Adolf. 1963. Die Gleichnisreden Jesu. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. 

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