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From Tradition to Gospel (Library of Theological Translations) Hardcover – November 26, 1987


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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation)

About the Author

Dr. Martin Dibelius (1883-1947) was responsible for the term Formgeschichte and was both the pioneer and the best exponent of the method. His earliest theological studies were directed mainly towards the Semitic languages, and he took a doctorate in Semitic Philology at Tubingen. From 1915 until his death, he held the Chair of New Testament Exegesis and Criticism in Heidelberg.
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of Theological Translations
  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: James Clarke & Co (November 26, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0227677528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0227677520
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,532,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Frost on October 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Dibelius precedes Bultmann in his analysis of the material of the Gospels, and surpasses his analysis in some ways. While it is hard to beat the depth shown in Bultmann's _History of the Synoptic Tradition_, the type analysis Dibelius performs goes farther into the actual structure and levels of specificity and abstraction involved in each type of literary element. Bultmann categorizes frequently based upon the content of the element, where Dibelius categorizes on the form more often. Read both to get a good perspective.

This is an excellent book for anyone doing research in the Gospels, especially for those intimately familiar with the Markan text - Dibelius uses Mark as the primary referent for much of the work, as Mark is one of the urtexten.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on June 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Martin Dibelius (1883-1947) was a German theologian and New Testament professor at the University of Heidelberg.

He states in the Preface to this 1919 book that "its purpose was to introduce and esablish the method of literary criticism which has since been called 'Formgeschichte' (Form Criticism)." The purpose of Form Criticism is "by reconstruction and analysis, it seeks to explain the origin of the tradition about Jesus, and thus to penetrate into a period previous to that in which our Gospels and their written sources were recorded. But it has a further purpose. It seeks to make clear the intention and real interest of the earliest tradition. We must show with what objective the first churches recounted stories about Jesus, pased them from mouth to mouth as independent narratives, or copied them from papyrus to papyrus." He later adds, "The right to read the Gospels from the standpoint of the development of their form is the objective of the present volume."

He observes that, for example, "In the record of the messengers of the Baptist (Mt 11:2-6, Lk 7:18-23) it is striking that question and answer in both passages are given in almost the same words, although the narrative context is completely different." He eventually develops the conclusion that "originally a number of independent little elements were in existence and not a connected biography of Jesus." Ultimately, he categorizes the gospel materials as Paradigms ("with their concentration upon conceptions of a definite character which can be used in preaching"), Tales, and Legends (such as the Miracle stories).
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