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  • The Enlightenment through the Nineteenth Century eds. by Alan J. Hauser and Duane F. Watson
  • Christopher Begg
The Enlightenment through the Nineteenth Century. Edited by Alan J. Hauser and Duane F. Watson. [A History of Biblical Interpretation, Volume 3.] (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 2017. Pp. xii, 428. $60.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-4275-6.)

This volume comprises an "introduction and overview" by the editors, followed by thirteen more focused contributions: Michael C. Legaspi, "The Term `Enlightenment' and Biblical Interpretation"; William Baird, "An Overview of Historical Criticism"; Travis L. Frampton, "Spinoza and His Influence on Biblical Interpretation"; Christine Helmer, "Schleiermacher as New Testament Scholar"; Darrell Jodock, "Biblical Interpretation in the Work of F.C. Baur and the Tübingen School"; Jeffrey F. Keuss, "David Friedrich Strauss and Ludwig Feuerbach: The Rise of Sturm und Drang in Biblical Scholarship"; James A. Sanders, "Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible: Masoretes to the Nineteenth Century"; J. W. Rogerson, "Wilhelm De Wette and His Contempraries"; Bill T. Arnold and David B. Schreiner, "Graf and Wellhausen, and Their Legacy"; Dirk Jongkind, "The Text and Lexicography of the New Testament in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries"; J. G. D. Dunn, "The Quest for the Historical Jesus and its Implications for Biblical Interpretation"; Carter Linberg, "Biblical Interpretation in Continental and American Pietism"; and Thomas H. Olbricht, "Biblical Interpretation in North America Through the Nineteenth Century."

Overall, this is volume is a useful resource for "raising consciousness" among both professional biblicists and more general readers concerning the complex history underlying contemporary biblical studies and the ongoing relevance of that history. I view the essay of Dunn a model in this regard for its clarity, concision, and highlighting of the lessons today's questers for the "historical Jesus" might learn from their eighteenth- and nineteenth-century predecessors.

At the same time, I found a variety of problematic features to the volume, both general and more specific. The editors' lengthy "introduction and overview" recapitulates [End Page 811] the content of the following contributions in what seems excessive detail, such that one experiences a sense of déjà vu reading the contributions themselves. Various of the essays (e.g., that of Jongkind) consist largely of a catalog of obscure names that leaves readers without the necessary context for appreciating those figures' persons and activities. Contrary to what its general title appears to promise, the volume's focus is, in fact, far more restricted, concentrating as it does on (mostly "liberal") Protestant biblical scholarship in England, Germany, and the United States, with a hardly a nod to Catholic or Jewish (Spinoza excepted) treatments of the Bible in the period under review (there is an odd reference [p. 307] to E. Renan's Vie de Jésus of 1863 as the first "thorough Catholic treatment" of the figure of the historical Jesus, given that Renan had broken with the Church already in 1845). Nor is the volume comprehensive even with regard to Protestant Bible scholarship of the era in question. Thus, there is virtually no reference to the nineteenth-century Netherlands as a key locus of critical biblical study (in this connection, there is an egregious oversight in the entry on Graf and Wellhausen, which completely ignores the major contribution of the Dutch scholar Abraham Kuenen (1828–91) to the definitive formulation of the pentateuchal "Documentary Hypothesis," notwithstanding the fact that his contribution was acknowledged by both Graf and Wellhausen and is amply documented in the relevant literature). In short, one is left wondering why the volume—its general title notwithstanding—adopts so restrictive a perspective in its handling of eighteenth/nineteenth-century Bible study.

The volume could also have profited from a more rigorous proofreading that would have eliminated perplexing errors that disfigure several of its presentations. Two divergent death dates, e.g., are given for both Lessing (1812 [p. 81] versus 1781 [p. 98]) and Schleiermacher (1832 [p. 285] versus 1834 [p. 306]). Well-hausen's commentary on the Minor Prophets is attributed both to him and to his publisher G. Reimer (compare pp. 272 and 273). The double mention of C. F. Houbigant in a sentence that occurs on p. 222 makes no sense...


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