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Kirchengeschichte: Alte Kirche, Christliche Archäologie


Hauschild, Wolf-Dieter, u. Henning Drecoll


Lehrbuch der Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte. Bd. 1: Alte Kirche und Mittelalter. 5., vollständig überarb. Neuausgabe.


Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus 2016. 927 S. Geb. EUR 54,00. ISBN 978-3-579-00560-7.


Jonathan D. Teubner

In this new edition of Wolf-Dieter Hauschild’s Lehrbuch der Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte. Bd 1: Alte Kirche und Mittelalter, Volker Henning Drecoll has revised and updated one of the standard textbooks in German theological education. There is little doubt that this revised and, in many ways, much improved version of H. will benefit students and instructors alike. In this way, Drecoll continues a tradition set by H.’s original 1995 edition that revised the equally important Kompendium der Kirchengeschichte by Karl Heussi. Throughout this new edition one can detect a veritable palimpsest of German theological formation, indicating ways in which German theological culture both retains much of its traditional structure and exhibits signs of expansion and transforma-tion.
The new edition is well organized, clear in its intentions, and broad in its theological purview. Under Drecoll’s editorship, much of H.’s original structure and presentation has been retained. In the first place, the ten-fold segmentation of the material is preserved with some minor adjustments to their titles. Moreover, H.’s unambiguously theological approach remains at the centre of this new edition. As the editor reports in the foreword to this new edition: »Am Beginn stehen nicht Christenverfolgungen oder der Blick auf das Imperium Romanum, sondern Vorstellungen über Gott und die Zuordnung Jesu zu Gott. Diese inhaltliche Aussage ist von Wolf-Dieter Hauschild bewusst getroffen worden. Damit verbindet sich die These, dass das Christen­tum gerade von Zuordnung Jesu Christi zu Gott aus sein spezifisches Profil gewinnt und diese Grundlegung auch in verschiedenen anderen Kontexten fortwirkt – ohne dass sich diese Kontexte (etwa das Verhältnis zum Imperium Romanum und seiner Kultur oder die Entwicklung als Institution Kirche) einfach nur als Fernwirkungen des Gottesbegriffes verstehen ließen.« (22 f.)
This perspective and the pedagogical program it implies resists scholarly trends that have slowly allowed the social historical context to occlude the content of what those who inhabited the soci-eties actually believed. Furthermore, why would anyone go to such lengths as martyrdom or, more simply, adopting a monastic lifestyle, if they did not take the belief that Jesus Christ was God seriously? This new revision continues H.’s admirable program of equipping students to answer such questions.
Changes have, however, been made, and many of these revisions are instructive in their own right. As I’ve already intimated, some of the section headings have been modified: § 4 (from »Christologischer Streit und Zerfall der Kirchenheit« to »Christologie«), § 5 (from »Augustin und die Lehrentwicklung der westlichen Kirche« to »Augustin und die Entwicklung der lateinischen Theologie bis zum 9. Jh.«), § 8 (from »Papsttum und römischer Katholizismus« to »Papsttum im Mittelalter«), § 9 (from »Geistliche und weltliche Gewalt im christlichen Abendland« to »Geistliche und weltliche Gewalt im Mittelalter«), and § 10 (from »Blüte der Theologie im Mittelalter« to »Theologie und Frömmigkeit im Mittelalter«). In each case, the revision reveals subtle shifts in the consensus over how certain issues should be thematized. One could quibble with many of these changes (e. g., in regards to § 9, why obscure the fact that the debates over spiritual and worldly powers are not, at least in the structure of the discourse, connected with modalities and inquiries that are locatable to the »West«?). But this is the rightful responsibility and duty of an editor tasked with bringing order to a large amount of material dispersed over the course of more than a mil-lennium, inevitably informed by his own pedagogical vision and theological bias.
A second, more significant change can be found in the editor’s introductory summaries in each of the ten sections. To take one example, H.’s distinction in § 5 between »Western« and »Eastern« theological approaches was deserving of significant tempering. H.’s claim that the East-West differentiation was not only present from the beginning but was also intensified by Augustine has been one of the more contested aspects of scholarship since H. last revised his textbook. In direct contradiction to H., the revised edition reports:
»Das Profil der westlich-lateinischen Theologie inhaltlich in Abgrenzung von der griechischen und der syrischen Tradition zu beschreiben, ist allerdings schwierig. Das zeigt schon die Tatsache, dass man in der Vergangenheit sowohl eine besondere Vorliebe für das Individuum behauptet hat als auch eine besondere Vorliebe für Institutionen. Auch die Entwicklung einer Gnadenlehre als solcher kann kaum als lateinisches Proprium begriffen werden.« (364)
This accurately reflects the new status quo in regards to East-West differentiation. There have, of course, been some overcorrections in the scholarly revisions of this debate. Surely there are important differences that, as H. would have it, were carried forward by distinctive linguistic and cultural contexts that separated »Latin« and »Greek« theology. But in this new edition of H. the editor judiciously navigates these changes and offers a fair picture of the new status quo.
A final change worth highlighting relates to the ways in which this new edition expands beyond the robust but nevertheless limit-ed confines of German scholarship. All of the bibliographies were restructured, supplemented, and updated to include, in some cases, literature from non-German language scholarship. The editor is one of the scholars best positioned to introduce today’s German students to scholarship in French, Italian, and English, among many other languages. Unfortunately, non-German language scholarship represented in these bibliographies is still limited to a few works dealing with specific textual or historical topics. In one respect, it would be ideal to introduce students – many of whom will spend up to a year studying in France, Great Britain, or even the United States – to the significant methodological differences be- tween these theological cultures, each of which contributes to the body of scholarship informing this textbook. But in another respect, it is important to remember that this is precisely where we encounter the rightful limits of textbooks themselves. At their best they inculcate students to the craft or skill of theological reflection. But this must be achieved within a particular theological culture. Everything from the unembarrassed theological structure of the material to the practical reading tips affirm that this is ineluctably a text for German students of theology.
In light of the »outsider« status of the present reviewer, it is worth closing with a few remarks on how this textbook and the tradition it represents differs from certain trends in British and American theological education. In the post-war period, a few notable scholars working in Great Britain and the United States have written textbooks – from J. N. D. Kelly’s Early Christian Creeds (1950) and Early Christian Doctrines (1960) to Jaroslav Pelikan’s The Christian Tradition (1971–1989) and John Behr’s The Formation of Christian Scholarship – that have educated generations and continue to inform styles of reflection common in Anglophone scholarship. But each of these – and many more not named – has a decisive theological agenda that was meant to replace, in most cases, English translations of German textbooks, chief among which was Adolf von Harnack’s Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte. Anglophone scholarship is, one might say, still in an oedipal struggle with this »father« of church history. In recent years, this struggle has become a leitmotif of Anglophone textbooks. For example, both the Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature (2004) and The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies (2008) explicitly set out to encourage new approaches to the interpreta-tion of complex historical evidence that are clearly distinguished from the theological-philological approaches represented by German scholarship. The complaints have changed since Kelly and Pelikan, but the antagonist remains the same. For better or worse, British and American theological cultures are still attempting to reckon with Harnack. What is lost in the methodological turn in Anglophone textbooks is the communication of any kind of integrated theological tradition. Although duly restrained from pro-viding an overly narrow formation, this newly revised edition of H. nevertheless offers an important contrast to the detraditioned methodological focus of Anglophone textbooks.
By adding revised summary statements and new bibliographic material, this newly revised and updated version is a clear improvement on its predecessors. It might even provide a model for future efforts in the United States and Great Britain.