Thursday, June 25, 2009

German, the most important biblical language

When I was first in Israel way back in 2000-2001 I had a memorable conversation with Étienne Nodet, a scholar at l'École Biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem. During the course of our conversation (in English) I confessed I had not yet learned German. You must, he replied, "it is the most important biblical language." The saying is apparently an old one, but the irony was particularly intense coming from a French scholar in Jerusalem.

F.F. Bruce apparently took the saying to heart: The preface to volumes 5-8 of Geoffrey Bromiley's English translation of Kittel's Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament contains this comment:
"A great debt is again owed to Professor F. F. Bruce of Manchester University for his invaluable and indefatigable labours in proof reading. If some errors still slip through the net—and we are grateful to readers who call attention to these—there is the consolation that Dr. Bruce in particular has been able to correct not a few errors in the original German."
I read somewhere that Bruce proofread TDNT while commuting to and from Manchester.


Phil Sumpter said...

That is so true! Marrying a German girl was really the best decision I could have made for my career. The most important books for my thesis are in German (two doctorates have already been written on my topic - more or less - and they are both in German). I couldn't imagine doing this thing without my Deutschkenntnisse.

Anonymous said...

The comment about Bruce proof reading TDNT on the train is correct. He used to live in Buxton and the commute would be abut 40 mins each way. I am pretty sure that someone mentions this in the preface to his Pauline Studies F/S, but Peter Oakes might also refer to this in his recent essay on Bruce in the BJRUL.