Kornelis Miskotte: A Biblical Theology
Susquehanna University Press, 1997 - 156 páginas
This is essentially a concise introduction to the theology of Kornelis Miskotte, a Dutch theologian, particularly as to how his approach to "theology and culture" shapes his view of the Old Testament. After a brief biography, this study discusses the sources of Miskotte's thought, his approach to Judaism, and his interpretation of the Old Testament.
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I appreciate the fact that at long last, here is an overdue English commendation on Dutch theology from a seemingly distant age in the 50's-60's. From admittedly just a preview reading on my part- Kessler points out and substantiates K.H. Miskotte's Barthian theological grounding and their joint aversion of anything resembling natural theology. Kessler describes the post WWII settings in Holland, that gave final form to the theology of Miskotte, in his "Magnum Opus" book "When the Gods are Silent" (Collins 1967), but earlier in German and the Dutch original subtitled as 'about the meaning of the Old Testament'. Ironically, in the first instance Miskotte addresses modernity as 'humanity beyond tutelage' in this fashion. However Kessler is also aware that Miskotte goes further than Barth in that he touches on Christianity's achilles heel on how the relationship of the Old and the New Testaments should be structured and held. This leads on to how Judaism, as exemplified in their historical regard for the NAME of YHWH has an inherent contingent approach, whereas Christianity through the christological and historical processes has erected dogma, doctrine and ecclesial barriers that run contra to the inherent and universal human contingent pre-suppositional stances. Kessler in this book gives us a picture of the man and his theology, however he has done marvellously well with this view of Heiko Miskotte, his time and theological contextual envelope. He notes the prophetic ring and warnings implicit in Miskotte's theology, a theology that I understand issues an address of admonishment to Judaism as well as to all varieties of Christian faith by their inevitable reliance on their own versions of natural theology and their associated human constructs. From that warning he holds the door open for Jew and Christian in renewed dialogue and concentration upon 'a first held love and devotion', to re- enter in to G-D's elective future, though perhaps on parallel paths and in different times. Such advocacy may also apply to inter-faith dialogue for other faiths and indigenous faith modalities. Though the fact, that I am also a Dutch emigre(e), and do have an uncanny familiarity and sympathy with Kessler, as well as earlier with Barth and Miskotte, may well colour this review. Perseverance with Barth has always had its own reward, likewise Kessler opens up the Dutch/ Continental freedom theology of Miskotte with this sympathetic treatment of a 20th century socialist poet/ seer/ theologian of the very highest order; and all that in fluent English. What more can one want.
Rein Zeilstra (NZ).
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