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Friday, October 3, 2014

Archaeology-3: Luther's Chronology, again; Kloha's "plasticity"

This continues from Part 2 (Table of Contents in Part 1), a translation of Franz Pieper's essay warning against basing the Christian faith on "Biblical Archaeology".
     In the last installment, Pieper thanked God that
The Christian church makes its faith in the Scriptures in no way dependent on the research of Oriental Archaeology. 
How sad is Prof. Jeffrey Kloha of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis!  Thank God that Christians can’t be held hostage by the "results" of his research work proclaiming the Bible a "plastic text"!  Christians have a much higher authority than him... they have Christ and the Apostles.  Prof. Kloha would certainly attempt to deny my charge.  If so, then may he first and foremost repudiate his choice of words!  And while at it, may he repudiate (as Prof. Eugene Klug did) Hermann Sasse's equivocation on the truth of all of Holy Scriptures.

Translation by BTL – Underlining from original – Highlighting is mine – Hyperlinks added for reference.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
A Word of Warning Against Overestimation of Archaeological Research.
by Franz Pieper
------ cont'd from Part 2 -----
[pg 325]
But he will have to vigorously defend himself against the others who question the Scriptures with the results of his research.  We just read the following bookseller’s announcement of Rudolf Merkel in Erlangen: "I received sole distribution for Europe: Hilprecht, HV, Old Babylonian Inscriptions chiefly from Nippur. The author gives an overview of the epoch-making results of the expedition of the University of Pennsylvania since 1888 with the systematic excavation of Nippur employed in the just published 2nd part of his work for the first time.  Even more so than the first part, which was described by the entire scientific press as a work of the first rank, the present part should be appropriate to attract the attention of Semitists, Old Testament theologians, archaeologists and historians. The editor provides important contributions to the early history and the beginnings of civilization in Babylonia. Above all, he gives insight, critically prepared and analyzed with great difficulty, of the oldest cuneiform texts – including one historically very important with 132 lines and far older than the famous Vulture Stele of Tello – an insight into the earliest Semitic state formations.   On the basis of  the comprehensive excavations in the lowest layers of the Bel temple ruins of Nippur, together with detailed paleographic studies, he determined the chronological relation of Sargon I and Naram-Sin to the kings of Tello and shows that the history of Babylonia must go back until the 7th or 8th pre-Christian millennium."  One cannot talk of 7 and 8 pre-Christian millennium, without attacking the historical character of the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament.  There is no room for so many thousands of years in the times of the Bible.  Hence Dr. Hilprecht must very energetically refuse to tolerate this use of his research.  How a Christian places himself in relation to human chronological research, if it will not be correct with the chronological information of Scripture, Luther shows his own example.  Luther has dealt, as is well known, very thoroughly with the biblical chronology. He "has diligently brought together and counted the years of World".1)  Compare his Supputatio annorum mundi [or Chronikon].2)  He encounters a difficulty in Abraham's life.  There seems to be 60 years missing.3)  But what explanation of his principled position does he deliver on that occasion?  He says: "It is absurd to follow the bold spirits that, whenever such a difficulty arises, immediately scream that there was a manifest error before, and without shame dare to emend books that are not their own.
1) St. L. ed. vol. 1, col. 721.  Exeg. opp. lat. Erl. III, 71.; Am. Ed. vol 2, pg 238

[pg 326]  
As for me, I do not know what is the answer to this question, though I have carefully added up the years of the world.  Now therefore I conclude with a humble confession of my lack of knowledge  (ignorantiae), as it is low (for only the Holy Spirit is the one who knows and understands all things)," etc.1)   In any case in which extra-biblical reports ended up in conflict with the reports of Scripture, the truth is – according to Luther – on the pages of Scripture.  He says that he "has not despised the historians entirely, but prefers the Scriptures to them." "I use them so" - he continues - "that I will not be compelled to resist the Scripture.  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."2)  This position of Luther is that of every Christian and every Christian theologian. If external-biblical historical reports contradict the report of the Bible, the former are false.  Applied to the present case: if Assyriology leads Babylonian history back into 7th or 8th pre-Christian millenium, then that is an error.   Either we find the error already on the old tablets etc, or the Assyriologists have been mistaken in decoding them.
2) The other point to be noted is this: One does not overestimate the importance of archaeological research in terms of understanding the Scriptures.  The "Kirchenblatt" says: "He (Dr. Hilprecht) drew particular attention to those points which are of importance for the investigation and the understanding of the Old Testament.”  Archaeological research can some light be shed on historical notes of the Scripture, by individual outer circumstances which they report.  And this is not despised by the Christian Church, but accepts it gratefully.  But the illusion is widespread in our time, as if to understand the Scriptures, and what its doctrine concerns, was only quite recently  accessible by historical research.  Just recently we were compelled to reject a previously targeted comment of an English Lutheran church paper.  The thing is like this: All the teaching of Scripture from Scripture itself can be recognized clearly and certainly.  We do not need the research of "extra-biblical sources", which perhaps have only become available in the 19th century [up to the current 21st century! – BTL].  Were it otherwise, the church would have been in a bad way in the past centuries, and the present church would be dependent on the right knowledge of the Christian doctrine of the
1) l. c. III, 71; St. L. ed. vol. 1, 721; cp. Am. Ed. vol 2, pg 239.

[pg 327]
incomplete and conflicting research of some scholars.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = cont'd in Part 4 = = = = = = = = =

Prof. John P. Meyer of the Wisconsin Synod (or WELS) allowed for 5,000 to10,000 years (by a report of a colleague) [see here]:
When students used to ask him: “Is it possible that Creation may have occurred between five and ten thousand years BC?” he would smile and say: “Yes, that may be possible.”
This is most distressing for me to read of this.  Franz Pieper protested this notion when he said above:
One cannot talk of 7 and 8 pre-Christian millennium, without attacking the historical character of the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament.
Oh!  There is a great disparity between John P. Meyer and Franz Pieper on this point.  And I suspect that Meyer was not unaware of the "old" teaching of Pieper and the "old Missouri Synod".  Someone may come to me and say
  • that I don't know what I'm talking about... 
  • that I don't know the "semitic" languages or all the findings of archaeology and assyriology...  
  • that I don't understand modern "scientific dating methods" such as "carbon dating" (or whatever) 
  • that Franz Pieper's position (and mine) is naive.  
But they would deceive themselves, for from my youth, a reading of Bible accounts never left me with the notion of large gaps of time between the chronological accounts given.  And it was Franz Pieper who firmly brought me back to the divine faith, the faith of my youth, and does not bend to the so-called "science" that cares nothing for the truth of the Bible.  And Pieper has the "audacity" to say that
This position of Luther is that of every Christian and every Christian theologian
But enough.  A much more complete discussion of this can be found in my blog series on Luther's Chronology of the World starting here.  The next Part 4 concludes my translation of Pieper's essay...

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