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history of religions school

ALISTER E. McGRATH


Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631198963.2005.x


Extract

The ‘history of religions school’ (to use the traditional English translation of the German term Religions-geschichtliche Schule ) was founded in 1890, and was originally known as the ‘little Göttingen faculty’. The school was destined to exercise considerable influence over biblical scholarship and Christological speculation in the first third of the twentieth century. In its early stages, the school was characterized primarily by little more than its hostility towards the leading representative of liberal Protestant theology, Albrecht Ritschl. Particular criticism was directed against his methods of biblical interpretation, which appeared to be insensitive to the historical background of Christianity in Judaism. However, other characteristics soon began to emerge. From its outset, the school proved itself to be of major importance in relation to both Old and New Testament studies, on account of its insistence that the religious developments of both Old and New Testaments, as well as those of the early church, had to be seen in the context of other religions. Biblical religion was not something distinct in its own right; its origins could be understood in terms of general developments in religious thinking at the time. Hermann Gunkel's Schöpfung und Chaos of 1895 derived much of the Old Testament's themes of creation and chaos from Babylonian mythology. Gunkel argued that the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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