The place of the Bible in the theology of Albrecht Ritschl, with special reference to Christology and the Kingdom of God
The aim of this thesis is to demonstrate that the proper significance of Albrecht Ritschl can only be appreciated if the importance of his biblical work, a hitherto neglected aspect of his achievement, is adequately taken into account. Accordingly, Ritschl's claim to be viewed as a biblical theologian is first evaluated in the context of the contemporary understanding of Biblical Theology. Then three main methods of enquiry into his theology are employed. First, Ritschl's own understanding of the place of the Bible in theology and his general criteria for exegesis and interpretation are described. In this section of the thesis, in particular, manuscript lectures on the New Testament delivered by Ritschl in Gottingen are used for the first time in Ritschl research to provide a more comprehensive picture of Ritschl's commitment to the Bible than is provided in his published work alone. Secondly, Ritschl's actual theological argument (in this case from his Christology) is analysed and tested, using D.H. Kelsey's tools for dissecting theological argument to elucidate precisely how the Bible functioned in Ritschl's own theological argument. Thirdly, Ritschl's use of the Bible in formulating his understanding of the Kingdom of God is analysed, in comparison with that of Johannes Weiss, who was both a contemporary and critic of Ritschl. The results of these descriptive, functional and comparative methods of enquiry demonstrate that Ritschl's commitment to the Bible in theology was genuine, both methodologically and actually, and significant in both the form and content of his theology. In response to criticisms from Weiss and Troeltsch, it is argued that, even though Ritschl was a comparatively conservative critic, his commitment to historical-critical methods was genuine and an important part of his understanding and use of the Bible. The conclusion reached in the thesis is that a more balanced appreciation of Ritschl's theological achievement, and its place in the history of modern theological thought emerges when Ritschl's commitment to biblical theology is acknowledged, and the coherence between his methodology and his use of scripture is clarified.