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Die Kraft des Schwachen. Ein Beitrag zur paulinischen Apostolatstheologie.
Tübingen-Basel: Francke 2001. 350 S. 8 = Texte und Arbeiten zum neutestamentlichen Zeitalter, 37. Kart. ¬ 64,00. ISBN 3-7720-2829-2.
Karl O. Sandnes
Krug starts from the observation that the notion of power (dynamis) has been a neglected field of study among New Testament scholars. This does certainly not rely on scanty evidence in the Pauline letters themselves. K. thinks that this situation is due to a feeling of alienation towards the Pauline texts on power. Another reason for this negligence he finds in the long-standing impact Martin Luther's theologia crucis has had on New Testament scholarship. Luther and Lutheran tradition understood the weakness of Christ, envisaged in his cross and sufferings to be the form in which God's power appeared to the world. Paul's ministry has then been seen as an analogy of this. According to K., this view has caused little interest in Pauline texts on power.
The review of the research done on dynamis and astheneia in Pauline theology is summarized into a consensus: the presence of power in Paul's apostolic ministry has been either opposed or diminished by reference to a Lutheran-like interpretation of Paul's weakness. The weakness thus becomes the sole appearance of God's power. K.s book is, in my view, correctly question-ing this consensus. I have, however, the impression that the consensus he presents is more complex. His review of the research probably presents the view K. wants to question rather than a well-established consensus.
In chaps. III-VI K. presents how the two contrasting terms dynamis and astheneia were viewed in pagan, Jewish and Christian sources. Of special interest for Krug is "das Transzendenz-Modell". This implies a contrast between weakness and power which is interpreted in a pedagogical way; weakness becomes a sign of divine inspiration and authenticity: "Die Paradoxie steht also im Dienst eines revelatorischen Interesses" (84-85). The paradoxical nature can be interpreted in two ways; weakness being the form in which power appears" or having a pedagogical aim in authenticating the power to come from God alone. K. argues for the second option, and does so in a mostly convincing way.
His investigation of power and weakness in Paul's letters proceeds from 1Thess through 1Cor to 2Cor. He emphasizes that Paul's ministry depended on a power which was experienced as powerful (1Thess 1:5; Gal 3:5; 1Cor 1:18). But he does not elaborate very much on how this manifested itself in miracles, signs and "Missionserfolg". 1Cor 1:26-31 witnesses a contrast between a majority who were socially marginalized and still divinely elected. This contrast forms a divine pedagogy: to strip all human beings from boasting. The paradoxical status of the Corinthian community thus mediates revelatory insight. The social status of the believers is thus no riddle, but serves to authenticate God's powerful presence among them.
Special emphasis is, of course, given to 2Cor 1:3-11; 4:7-12; 6:3-10; 12:7-10. Paul's retrospective view on his sufferings in Asia demonstrates that they serve to provide him with a theologically based authority. Paul's ministry which was manifested in both weakness and power is partly an analogy to Christ who lived in weakness, but was raised in power (2Cor 13:3-4; Rom 1:3-4). K. argues, however, that Paul's presentation of his apostolic tribulations and simultaneous power demonstrates that he was even more dependent on traditions about God making himself known through persons of weakness: "Die Astheneia des Paulus bildet nicht nur Jesu Niedrigkeit bis zum Kreuz ab, sondern hat darüber hinausgehend den Sinn, die Gemeinde zu revelatorischer Erkenntnis zu führen" (314). K. concludes that Paul's concept of weakness and power should not form a canonical corrective against miracles and signs: "Ein Korrektiv ist sie allerdings insofern - und darin mit aller Schärfe! - als sie auf das strengste menschliche und göttliche Kraft zu unterscheiden zwingt" (p.318).
K. has written a balanced and well-argued critique of a Lutheran tradition which has had far-reaching implications for both NT scholarship and preaching.