Digital Classics in the History of New Testament Research

So you want to learn more about the history of New Testament exegesis, but don’t want to buy an entire library or devote the rest of your life to reading German? Here are 20-ish places to start, including some key works by influential scholars and theologians from the 17th through the 19th centuries, all in English translation and freely available online. I present them here in rough chronological order. Needless to say, there are many important works that have not been translated (apparently no one has ever translated J. S. Semler, for example – his 4 volume Abhandlung von freier Untersuchung des Canon would still be worth an English translation), or whose translations are not freely available online. There are also various gems of translation that don’t quite make this list, but are still interesting (e.g., this volume which includes some extracts from Gesenius, Michaelis, J. G. Eichhorn and others). One should also note that in some cases more recent translations exist that are improvements on those listed here, but are, again, not freely available online.

For the broader narrative context in which these works fit, see, for example, H. G. Reventlow, The Authority of the Bible and the Rise of the Modern World; idem, History of Biblical Interpretation (4 vols.);  W. Kümmel, The New Testament: The History of the Investigation of Its Problems; Roy A. Harrisville and Walter Sundberg, The Bible in Modern Culture: Theology and Historical-Critical Method from Spinoza to Käsemann; S. Neill and N. T. Wright, The Interpretation of the New Testament, 1861-1986; W. Baird, History of New Testament Research (3 vols).

Without further ado, the list:

1. R. Simon, A Critical History of the Text of the New Testament; (note also his A Critical history of the Old Testament; and Critical Enquiries into the Various Editions of the Bible)

2. J. Locke, A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of Paul

3. Some English Deist authors (by way of example)

4. Benedict de Spinoza, Theological Political Treatise

5. J. A. Bengel, Gnomon of the New Testament (vol. 1, vols. 2-3, vol.4)

6. H. Reimarus, Fragments

7. J. P. Gabler, An Oration on the Proper Distinction between Biblical and Dogmatic Theology

8. J. A. Ernesti, Principles of Biblical Interpretation (see also Moses Stuart’s translation here)

9.  August Hermann Francke, A Guide to the Reading and Study of the Holy Scriptures

10. J. D. Michaelis, Introduction to the New Testament (vol. 1; vol. 2.1; vol. 2.2; vol. 3.1; vol.3.2; vol.4)

11. F. D. E. Schleiermacher, A Critical Essay on the Gospel of St Luke; On Religion; note also his Sermons

12. Ferdinand Christian Baur, Paul (vol. 1; vol. 2); The Church History of the First Three Centuries (vol. 1; vol. 2); excerpt on Gospel of John

13. D. F. Strauss, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined (vol. 1; vol. 2)

14. E. W. Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament (vol. 1; vol. 2; vol. 3; vol. 4)

15. August Tholuck, A Commentary on the Gospel of St John; Exposition of St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans; A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews; Exposition, Doctrinal and Philological of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (vol.1; vol. 2) (see also select discourses here)

16. The Cambridge Three

17. Johannes Weiss, Paul and Jesus

18. A. von Harnack, History of Dogma (vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7); The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries (vol. 1; 2); What is Christianity?; Luke the Physician; The Acts of the Apostles; The Date of Acts and the Synoptic Gospels

19. Theodor Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament (vol. 1; vol. 2; vol. 3)

20. Adolf Schlatter, “The Significance of Method for Theological Work


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