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Why Translate Heidegger's "Handbook of the Bible"?

Updated: Dec 19, 2019

So the question may be asked, why undertake a translation of Heidegger’s Handbook of the Bible? Three reasons.

First, during the period of Protestant Scholasticism, generations of the greatest theological minds in history applied themselves to educational method. The goal was to provide a broad and deep theological education with the utmost efficiency. When one considers the theological luminaries that were produced by this method of education, and their theological attainments at relatively young ages, the goal was largely achieved. In succeeding generations, the educational methods of Protestant Scholasticism were set by, and then largely forgotten, much to the hurt of theological education in the present day. The translation of Heidegger’s Handbook is part of an effort to recover the powerful educational methods of Protestant Scholasticism.

Second, as part of Christian catechism (the training of Christians in the fundamentals of the faith), it is important to inculcate a general acquaintance with the Scriptures, their structure and teaching. Heidegger’s Handbook of the Bible is a powerful tool to that end, and a contribution to that literature.

Third and finally, modern Biblical scholarship has raised issues and multiplied theories with respect to matters of special introduction (matters of authorship, date, setting, etc., of the Biblical Books). Consequently, in modern theological education, almost all of the attention is given to issues of special introduction; comparatively little attention is given to the study of the Scriptures themselves. In other words, almost all of the time is spent studying issues “around” the Scriptures, but not so much the Scriptures themselves. Although Heidegger is certainly not unaware of the rising negative criticism of the Scripture (the theology of Saumur and the rising Cartesian Rationalism had already raised most of the issues, at least in germ), his Handbook is intended to give the student an introduction to the Bible and to the Biblical Books themselves. If the translation of Heidegger’s Handbook could contribute to a refocusing of theological education, even if in some small way, the effort will have been worth it.

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