Reinhard Gregor Kratz

Gerechte und Frevler. Die Auslegung von Psalm 37 in Qumran und bei Martin Luther

Volume 114 () / Issue 4, pp. 367-397 (31)

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Celebrating 2017's 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the discovery of Qumran 70 years ago, this contribution aims to reveal the connection between these two biblical interpretations originating from vastly different epochs. Taking Psalm 37 as an example, the discussion of exegetical techniques and hermeneutics profits by comparing Qumran and Martin Luther as well as Luther with Luther, while special attention is also paid to identifying »the righteous« and »the wicked« in the psalm and its later interpretations. Beginning with a short analysis of the biblical psalm itself, the essay investigates the ancient Judaic interpretation found in Qumran's psalm pesher, goes on to look at Luther's early lecture on the psalm from 1513–1515, and is rounded off with an assessment of his fresh interpretation of it in 1521. Comparing these two readings of Psalm 37 reveals a turning point in the identification of »the righteous« and »the wicked«: while the 1513–1515 lecture featured the traditional Jewish-Christian confrontation, this was replaced in 1521 with the historically-founded view that the conflict arose from within the own Christian community itself. In a sense, Luther thus reverted to Qumran's pesher hermeneutics, whose identification of the two groups had mirrored internal Jewish clashes in the first century BCE. In conclusion, how such historical interpretations of biblical statements from pre-critical times can be dealt under modern conditions is reflected on.

Reinhard Gregor Kratz Born 1957; 1987 Dr. theol., 1990 Habilitation at the University of Zürich; since 1995 Professor for Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at the Theological Faculty of the University Göttingen.