Tod am Kreuz

Alles nur ein Übersetzungsfehler?

Death on the Cross
All just a translation error?


news ORF AT.

via Bilal Aslam Khan of Germany

Note by The Editor: News below published in Austria media outlet ORF and was sent by Mr. Bilal Aslam of Germany. The original text is in German and here is English Translation is done by google.

Everything has been said about the Easter story, both theologically and by historical-critical biblical scholars. But apparently not yet by everyone. In a new book with broad appeal, the publicist and best-selling author Franz Alt tries again to answer a question: What if the translations of the Easter story are blurred, what if Jesus did not die on the cross at all? Alt argues with the Aramaic variant of the Gospels – and calls for the return of the Church to a “Jesuan” institution. Once again, the role of Paul in the interpretation of what happened after Golgotha is criticized.

What do the anti-nuclear movement, the crisis of the CDU, the Green movement, debates about the location of the church, discussions about equal rights, and Greta Thunberg have to do with the Easter story? Nothing really, you might think; for the German publicist, book author, and former member of the Union, Franz Alt, on the other hand, everything. He sees Jesus as a model for the reorganization of politics, society – and not least of the Church, his Church. The fact that Alt also had his good intentions of the “pacifist Jesus” printed in the “Nationalzeitung” has also earned the Grimme Prize winner additional criticism.

According to Alt, it would help to change the previous image of Jesus of Nazareth. To put it briefly, he advises abandoning the dogma of the divine nature of Jesus, which would turn Catholic and Reformed theology on its head, to say the least. Already in the 4th century, at the Council of Nicaea, when Christianity was tolerated under Constantine I and sent on its way towards the state church, the divine nature of Jesus Christ was held as dogma. Doctrines that deviated from this, such as Arianism, were punished.
A retranslation and a new look

Alt put his trust in the text of the Gospels, especially in the retranslation of the Gospels into Aramaic, as carried out and propagated for decades by the German Father Günther Schwarz. Based on Schwarz’s theses, Alt assumes that there are translation errors in the Gospels and speaks of dogmatic-theological wishful judgments of the Bible that have nothing to do with the intentions of Jesus. This approach is not covered by historical-critical biblical research

Schwarz, who was appointed pastor late in life, based his research on an attempt at retranslation, in which he retranslated the Greek Bible into Aramaic and tried to fill in misleading passages with a kind of reinterpretation in order to produce a version that was coherent in Aramaic. For the source comparison, Schwarz consulted the Peshitta, the Bible for the churches in the Syriac tradition, whose roots go back to the 1st century. Schwarz believed that he could reconstruct the linguistic style of a prophet of that time, for example by putting all of Jesus’ statements into verse form. The reason for this was that the prophets of the time had thus given their statements the form of more easily remembered theses.
Reckoning with Paul

In this volume, Alt atmospherically extrapolates Schwarz’s findings for a confrontation with the official church. All readers who have always struggled with the concept of transformation in the liturgy will rejoice when reading Alt. He opposes the Pauline slogan (1 Cor. 1:23) that makes the resurrection “the pivot of faith”. This obscures the view of the central messages of Jesus, who, like all the prophets of his time, was traveling in a fashion of rebirth convictions (one of the foundations of the assumptions also in Schwarz’s translations).
Books on the subject

Even if Alt does not want to take a clear position on the question of whether Jesus died on Good Friday or not, he says that Jesus’ death is not recorded in any place in the Gospels. Alt points to the standard translations of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in which the metaphor of the “breathed out” or “abandoned spirit” is found everywhere. As he himself says, he wants to look for the “facts” in the Easter story, “and not for the Christological ideas that fit certain teachings of the Church”. He doesn’t have to, he is a publicist and not a theologian. But theologians will hardly be able to follow him, for example when he refers to a quotation from Schwarz’s retranslation of Jesus’ encounter with Mary of Magdala on Easter morning: “Touch me! For I have not died at all.” (Jn, 20, 17 RÜ)
Reorientation of the image of the church

A little more modesty would do Alt good, critics of his approach said, but they gave him credit for his commitment to a positive emphasis on the messages of Jesus and to an optimistic-empathic church. It is obvious that one cannot get beyond the source problem of the Bible from the endeavored projective reading of a back-translation.
G.Boccati, Crucifixion of Christ
Rabatti – Domingie / akg-images /
The lance wounds Jesus received in the history of art would have been hard for him to survive. Sometimes it hit him on the left, sometimes on the right.

“The fact is that apart from a few words handed down outside the NT, everything Jesus said has only been handed down in the four Gospels written in Greek,” the theologian and social philosopher Franz Magnis-Suseno, for example, reminds us of the starting point for assessing the Bible. The word “forgery”, which Alt likes to use, should be used more modestly, especially if one only has projections at hand.
Who can claim a true image of Jesus?

If Christianity had really only been a forgery, then “the real Jesus would have been dead as a doornail for 2,000 years” – and would have remained without any consequential effect, one can interpret Magnis-Suseno’s criticism.

Alt, on the other hand, would like to understand Jesus as a “native of the Middle East of his time”, which is honorable. This, he argues, makes it possible to get away from the dogmatized and ideologized images of Jesus in the West. The ground for his approach remains thin and ultimately as much a question of faith as of conviction.
Chalk sketch of the empty tomb of Christ
Mystery of faith: The empty Easter tomb was of little concern to Paul, for example. From the Middle Ages onwards, it became a major empty space and a place for projections.
Lack of evidence for the resurrection thesis

The thesis of the death of Jesus, however, is also provided with at least a large question mark by historians and without recourse to Aramaic subtleties. In addition to countless strands of apparent death debate, the historian Johannes Fried recently expressed doubts about the thesis of Jesus’ death on Golgotha in his books, such as “No Death on Golgotha”.

Or in other words: Fried sees a lack of evidence for a resurrection thesis. “The presentation and use of language in Paul and in the Gospels do not provide any evidence for the ‘resurrection, but only for the willingness to believe in one,” says Fried. When the first formula of faith attested by Paul came into being, the Greek word egeirein had only meant “woke up” in the situational context and only acquired the level of meaning of “raise up” through Christian influence. “Jesus died and rose” (1 Thess., 4,14, 1 Cor. 15,3-4) refers to the Greek verb anhistánai, which in contemporary Greek simply meant “to stand up” or “to rise”. Paul’s interpretation, therefore, presupposes an “already elaborated faith”.

That God raised Jesus from the dead cannot be dated before Paul, Fried emphasizes: “Only the evangelists formulated and propagated the final, the ultimate story.” Remembering an empty tomb, Fried says, was unnecessary for Paul: “He merged God’s miraculous action in Jesus with his own vision of Christ.”


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