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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Luther's Chronology, Part 6b (James Barr – "scholar")

In Part 6a of this series (Table of Contents in Part 1 here), I began this review of the modern scholar Professor James Barr († 2006).  He wrote several articles about Biblical chronology, and seems to be the only writer who even mentions Luther's Chronology since the Weimar Edition (or Weimar Ausgabe) published it with comments in 1920 (in Germany).  Except Franz Pieper in 1924 in his Christian Dogmatics, volume 1, page 243 quoted Luther's preface to his Chronikon:
This thing has moved me that though I have not despised the historians completely, I have preferred Holy Scripture to them. I use the historians in such a way that I am not made to contradict the Scriptures. For I believe that in the Scriptures the true God speaks; but in the histories, good people by their ability, their diligence, and their faithfulness prove (but as human beings), or at least that the copyists, can err.
Reading Professor Barr is a lot like reading the editors and translators of the American Edition of Luther's Works – Jaroslav Pelikan, Helmut T. Lehmann, Franklin Sherman, etc – it almost seems they are gleeful when they report some 'error' of Luther or disagreement they have with him.  Neither Barr or the editor/translators of Luther's Works believed the Bible like he did.  Their goal was not to build the Christian faith, but rather appear "scientific", "scholarly", "reasonable", "balanced".  In fact the chief endorsement among "leading Reformation scholars worldwide" for the New Series of Luther's Works says it this way in the Endorsements:
"...this new series should delight scholars as well as engage laity and clergy."
Mark U. Edwards, Jr.
Academic Dean, Harvard Divinity School
That's Harvard University, the same university where Stephen Jay Gould taught the theory of evolution, the same university where Walter A. Maier received his Ph.D. degree.

The Prospectus for the CPH New Series of Luther's Works also says this:
" expanded English-language edition of Luther especially useful as a help to scholars and theologians..."
No!  Luther did not write anything for today's modern "scholars", he wrote only for the Christian faith, for the Christian church, and only true scholars in that true faith.  This is true also for Professor James Barr, a modern "scholar" who found faults with Luther.

What faults did Barr find with Luther?  I will begin covering that in Part 6c (after an interruption of this series to review Franz Pieper's teaching to defend the Doctrine of Inspiration).

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