Search This Blog

Friday, November 25, 2016

Vom Schem Hamphoras omissions (Pieper’s Dogmatik, Luther's mighty words on “Jehovah”)

      I return now to my project of providing the full text of Franz Pieper's magnum opus, his 3-volume Christliche Dogmatik.  In comparing the English edition to the original German edition, I came across areas where the English translators omitted significant portions, as I have previously shown concerning the subjects of Usury and Life Insurance.  Thankfully these omissions are few and far between – the English edition is largely a faithful work.
      On the subject of "Luther and the Jews", the coming year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation will see Luther's name raked over the coals incessantly.  To counter this, I want to publish the portions of Luther's Vom Schem Hamphoras that were omitted by the English edition of Pieper's Dogmatik.  This was rather easy for me to do since I had already translated much of this work of Luther in a rather popular series of blog posts. Below I present both published versions – on the left is the text from the English edition, on the right is my translation of Pieper's original German and Luther's words:
Christian Dogmatics I (1950),  pp. 385-386
Translated English edition
(my translation of Luther from this blog)
All text with green shading omitted from English edition.  All bolding is mine.
Treatise on Shem Hamphoras, St. L. XX :2057 ff. This treatise deserves to be read again and again.
Luther's mighty words about the name "Jehovah" deserve to be read again and again. He writes in St. L. XX, 2057 f., In his work of vom Schem Hamphoras [paragraphs # 75b-78]:
(This direct reference to “the devils and the Jews” was omitted by English edition.  Too inflammatory?)
    75b.  But now we want to deal with the name Jehovah, with which the devils and Jews carry on much magic and all kinds of abuse and idolatry.

". . . Now, as to the pretense of Jews that His name [Jehovah] is unutterable, they do not know what they are babbling. If they refer to the letters, it cannot be true, for it is pronounced Jehovah.

But if they do it to honor this name, then they ought to do it also in the case of all other names [of God] and let them also be too sacred to utter.

    76.  This name Jehovah, according to grammar comes from the word Haja, or Hava, that is in Latin fuit, in praeterito, esse; in German: essential, or to be; and the J can be nota nominis verbalis, as Josaphat Jesias, Jeremiah and many other names, and is as much as the Latin ens, the Greek on. We need to speak German: "he is it"; and thus is in Latin Trigrammaton, in Greek Dygrammaton, Hexagrammaton in German, or if we incorrectly just take "is" so it is also a Trigrammaton. That they now claim the name Jehovah was to be inexpressible, they do not know what they babble; if they mean the letters, so it cannot be true since he is called Jehovah. And he that can write with pen and ink, why should he not call with the mouth which is much better than pen and ink? Or why do they not call him unwritable, unreadable, unthinkable? In short, it is a foul thing.  If they therefore do it out of honor, they should do it for all other names, and let them also be unspeakable. For he says: "Thou shalt not take God's name in vain", so this is also foul. Nowhere does the Scripture say that any of God's names should be inexpressible [or ineffable], otherwise everyone would be innocently misusing God's name, therefore they would want to say they cannot call on his name, and keep silent rather than misuse it.
Scripture indeed says that God's essence, power, wisdom, benevolence, is unspeakable, immeasurable, infinite, incomprehensible, etc., not as though the letters or syllables were unutterable, but what those letters and syllables mean is beyond utterance....

God has no beginning or end, but is from eternity, in and of Himself, His name can never be `has been' or `will be,' but it must always be `Is,' `Being,' `Jehovah.'.

    77.  There they well speak that God's nature, power, wisdom, goodness, and whatever one can say more of God, is inexpressible, measureless, infinite, incomprehensible etc.; that not the letters or syllables, but these are what it means to be inexpressible. Yes, so must one speak of the inexpressible name of God.  For he has his essence from no one, also has no beginning or end, but is from all eternity, in and of himself, that his being cannot be said "was" or "will be", because he has never started, is not able also to become, has also never ended, also cannot stop being; but it is said of him always is or "being", that is Jehovah (Exodus 3:14). Because the creature was created, there his being is inherently, and what he is yet to become, there he is ready with his being.  In this manner Christ speaks of his divinity, John 8:58: "Before Abraham was, I am"; he does not say: There I was as if he was not anymore afterwards; but: "I am"; that is, my nature is everlasting, not will be, will not become, but is an everlasting "Is".
Hence, as His `Is,' `Am,' and `Being' is incomprehensible, so it is also inexpressible, for no creature can comprehend that which is eternal....

In the Divine Being there is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three Persons in one eternal, incom­prehensible being, or essence.

Who will undertake to name, to fathom, fully to express, fully to describe such a marvelous being, or essence? ...

God is from eternity and is called three Persons."

    78.  Therefore, as his "Is", Being or nature is incomprehensible, it is also inexpressible since no creature can understand that which is so eternal. Hence, the angels are forever blessed, because they cannot see and be pleased enough of the everlasting being of God, nor understand; and where it could be understood, it could not be eternal, and must also have a beginning or end to itself, and no one could give or preserve such a nature because its nature would be uncertain. Further, his wisdom, power, goodness, etc. is also everlasting and is incomprehensible because it must be nothing other than his divine nature itself. Thirdly, one which is more important, that in the divine nature is God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three persons are in one, everlasting, incomprehensible essence. Yes, such all of this says of God which would make an incomprehensible, inexpressible name.  Who wants such a wonderful nature to name, devise, speak of, write about?  In that way the ancients perhaps have called inexpressible the name of Jehovah, because they meant God's Nature, according to grammar, (as heard) an always Is, from eternity, and of three persons is named.

As I pondered possible reasons why the English editors omitted the missing material, it seemed there were 2 plausible ones: (1) they wanted to accommodate limited space available for the English edition or (2) they considered that Luther's harsh reference to the Jews was too inflammatory in 1950, the dated of volume 1 of Christian Dogmatics, due the the effects of the aftermath of World War II and the publicity of the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany.  Whatever the reason, I consider that neither was sufficient.  And so I would say to the reader (like me!) what Pieper did:
Luther's mighty words about the name "Jehovah" deserve to be read again and again.”
— including the omitted wording: “the devils and Jews carry on much magic and all kinds of abuse and idolatry”.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments only accepted when directly related to the post.