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research and in 1952 he published Paul and Jesus Origin and General Character of. Paul s Preaching of Christ10 in Dutch a book he characterized as an introduction. to Paul 11 In 1953 his research into this apostle took shape in yet another work on. Paul a commentary in English entitled The Epistle of Paul to the Churches of. Galatia 12 In 1955 he published a paper Israel in the New Testament especially. according to Rom 9 11 13 During the same year he published Redemptive History. and the New Testament Scriptures in Dutch 14 This was followed by a book in. English which was based on earlier works and was published in 1957 under the title. When the Time had Fully Come Studies in New Testament Theology 15 In 1958 he. published a modest book in English about a theme with which he was well acquaint. ed Matthew s Witness to Jesus Christ The King and the Kingdom 16 During those. years he must have devoted most of his time to preparations for his thoroughly. written commentary on Paul s Epistle To the Romans which was published in. 1959 17 Only a year later he completed his commentary To the Colossians 18. Ridderbos s next book did not appear until 1966 but this was the most voluminous. work he ever published Paul An Outline of his Theology in Dutch 19 A year later. his commentary The Pastoral Epistles was published 20 During the celebrations of. the 25th anniversary of his professorship in 1968 his colleagues presented him with. a collection of a number of his articles and lectures entitled The Word The King. dom and our Embarrassment 21 In 1972 he became involved in the controversy. about Herman Wiersinga s dissertation Reconciliation in the theological discus. sion 22 Ridderbos s response is entitled Are We on the Wrong Way A Biblical. Paulus en Jezus Oorsprong en algemeen karakter van Paulus Christus prediking Kampen J H. Kok 1952 English Translation Paul and Jesus Origin and General Character of Paul s Preaching. of Christ transl D H Freeman Philadelphia Pa The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing. Company 1958,Only in the Dutch edition p 5, In The New International Commentary on the New Testament Grand Rapids William B Eerd. mans Publishing Company 1953, Isra l in het Nieuwe Testament in het bijzonder volgens Rom 9 11 in G Ch Aalders and H. Ridderbos Isra l Exegetica Oud en nieuw testamentische studi n II 2 Den Haag Van Keulen. 1955 23 73, Heilsgeschiedenis en Heilige Schrift van het Nieuwe Testament Het gezag van het Nieuwe Testa. ment Kampen J H Kok 1955 English translation The Authority of the New Testament Scriptures. transl H de Jongste Philadelphia Pa The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company 1963. revision Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures revision R B Gaffin Jr Phillips. burg N J The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company 1968 2 nd revised ed 1988. Grand Rapids Mi William B Eerdmans Publishing Company 1957. World Christian Books 23 London United Society for Christian Literature Lutterworth Press. 1958 This book was published in Dutch in the same year Het verborgen Koninkrijk Handleiding tot. het Evangelie van Matthe s Kampen J H Kok 1958, Aan de Romeinen Commentaar op het Nieuwe Testament Kampen J H Kok 1959. This commentary came out in one volume with F W Grosheide s commentary on the Epistle to. the Ephesians Aan de Efezi rs Aan de Colossenzen Commentaar op het Nieuwe Testament. Kampen J H Kok 1960, Paulus Ontwerp van zijn theologie Kampen J H Kok 1966 English translation Paul An.
Outline of his Theology transl J R De Witt Grand Rapids Mi William B Eerdmans Publishing. Company 1975, De Pastorale brieven Commentaar op het Nieuwe Testament Kampen J H Kok 1967. Het Woord het Rijk en onze verlegenheid Kampen J H Kok 1968. De verzoening in de theologische diskussie Kampen J H Kok 1971. Study of Reconciliation 23 After this it was a number of years before another work. of his was published Ridderbos officially retired in 1975 but he kept his chair until. 1978 In this year a collection of six papers was published in English entitled Studies. in Scripture and its Authority 24 During those years he devoted his research to the. Gospel of John 25 His valedictory lecture was published in 1979 entitled The Word. Became Flesh Reflections on the Unique Character of the Gospel of John 26 In. 1987 he finished the first volume of The Gospel of John A Theological Commen. tary in Dutch The second volume followed in 1992 completing Ridderbos s. theological body of work 27 In 1999 he wrote his last booklet a biography of his. father who had been Old Testament professor at Kampen from 1913 until 1950 28. In addition to these the reprints of several of his works deserve to be men. tioned as do the translations of his works into German Spanish Portuguese. Danish Korean and Indonesian If we add to these the 1750 or so opinion articles he. wrote in Gereformeerd Weekblad Reformed Weekly between 1945 and 1982 as. well as his many other articles that were included in other periodicals and collec. tions in the Netherlands and abroad it is clear that Ridderbos was a very productive. and versatile writer whose authority was and still is recognized in many countries. This article is devoted to one particular aspect of Ridderbos s work that. appears in nearly all his books and is characteristic of his theology He regularly. pointed out that the New Testament should be interpreted redemptive historically. or salvation historically The terms redemptive historical and redemptive. history or salvation history are less prevalent in theological works of the begin. ning of the twenty first century than in Ridderbos s body of work and where they. are being used they do not always carry the same meaning as they do in his publica. tions We will therefore look at what Ridderbos meant with the term redemptive. historical exegesis and from which he wished to distinguish his own approach. In order to place his view on redemptive historical exegesis in its context we. will first consider the origin of the term redemptive history and describe how it. functioned in the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands during the first few decades. of the twentieth century,Redemptive history as a theological theme. The source of the term redemptive history is supposed to be the theologian J C. K von Hofmann who taught in Erlangen Germany Around the middle of the. Zijn wij op de verkeerde weg Een bijbelse studie over de verzoening Kampen J H Kok 1972. Grand Rapids Mi William B Eerdmans Publishing Company 1978. He had expressed his scientific interest for this Gospel earlier in his speech of December 8 1965. Opbouw en strekking van de proloog van het evangelie van Johannes included in Het Woord het. Rijk en onze verlegenheid 37 57 and published under the title The structure and scope of the Pro. logue to the Gospel of John in Placita Pleiadia Opstellen aangeboden aan Prof Dr G Sevenster. Leiden E J Brill 1966 Novum Testamentum 8 1966 180 201. Het Woord is vlees geworden Beschouwingen over het eigen karakter van het Evangelie van. Johannes Kampen J H Kok 1979, Het Evangelie naar Johannes Proeve van een theologische exegese I II Kampen J H Kok 1987. 1992 English translation The Gospel of John A Theological Commentary transl John Vriend. Grand Rapids Mi Cambridge U K William B Eerdmans Publishing Company 1997. Jan Ridderbos Mens Kamper Miniaturen 4 Kampen Vereniging van Oud Studenten van de. Theologische Universiteit Kampen 1999, nineteenth century he endeavored to demonstrate from the Scriptures the steady. historical development of God s communion with humankind He exposited the. Scriptures on the basis of the scheme Weissagung und Erf llung Prophecy and. Fulfillment which was the title of his two volumes from 1841 1844 29 and he. viewed Christ as the center of history and the beginning of its completion The. Christian partakes in this redemptive history Heilsgeschichte by being born again. Hofmann opposed his redemptive historical heilsgeschichtlich exposition to the. dogmatic use of Scriptures which implied that the Bible serves as a collection of. proof texts for Christian doctrine 30, Hofmann was not the first to pay attention to the historical character of.
God s plan of redemption that enfolds from Creation to the End of times In fact. Irenaeus of Lyons designed a redemption historical theology around the year 180 31. Hofmann s attempt to free the Bible from its one sided dogmatic usage is similar to. J P Gabler s proposal in 1787 to develop a Biblical theology as opposed to. Dogmatic theology 32, Abraham Kuyper however rejected Gabler s term Biblical theology. partly because it appeared to suggest that the Bible writers had a theology and. worked as theologians whereas they were first and foremost inspired by the Holy. Spirit 33 Kuyper therefore suggested that that which Gabler refers to should be called. historia revelationis history of revelation, A similarly negative judgement concerning the redemptive historical. method as proposed by Hofmann was formulated by F W Grosheide 34 He felt it. contains some good elements but because Hofmann did not view the Scriptures as. historically completely accurate and also found the work of man in it Grosheide. dismissed his approach, As a result of this the subject historia revelationis was taught at the theologi. cal faculty of the Free University at Amsterdam and also at Kampen Theological. Seminary At Kampen the subject was taught by Old Testament professor Jan Rid. derbos Herman Ridderbos stated in 1994 that what is now called Biblical theology. was then called historia revelationis 35, Weissagung und Erf llung im alten und im neuen Testamente Ein Theologischer Versuch I II. N rdlingen C H Beck sche Buchhandlung 1841 1844, See Gustav Weth Die Heilsgeschichte Ihr universeller und ihr individueller Sinn in der offenba.
rungsgeschichtlichen Theologie des 19 Jahrhunderts Munich Kaiser 1931 81 94 K G Steck. Die Idee der Heilsgeschichte Hofmann Schlatter Cullmann Zollikon Evangelischer Verlag. 1959 19 35, See P L Wansink Irenaeus en het Oude Testament Gnostische en heilshistorische exegese in de. tweede eeuw Zoetermeer Boekencentrum 2000, For this see Hendrikus Boers What is New Testament Theology The Rise of Criticism and the. Problem of a Theology of the New Testament Philadelphia Fortress Press 1979 23 38 and Ed. Noort Tussen geschiedenis en theologie Over valkuilen en mogelijkheden in de bijbelse theologie. Kerk en Theologie 53 2002 202 23 esp 203 7, Encyclopaedie der heilige Godgeleerdheid III Kampen J H Kok 1909 2nd ed 166 80. Hermeneutiek ten dienste van de bestudeering van het Nieuwe Testament Amsterdam Van. Bottenburg 1929 120 1, In Gerrit Douma Een theologische gemeenschap ten dienste van de kerk Een gesprek over de. school met prof dr Herman Ridderbos Communiqu 11 2 1994 4 16 esp 7 also in Herman. Ridderbos Jan Ridderbos Mens 10, However not all Reformed theologians shared Grosheide s rejection of the.
redemptive historical interpretation of Scriptures Tjeerd Hoekstra Practical Theol. ogy professor at Kampen candidly spoke of the redemptive history of the Old. Testament when discussing the historia revelationis in his Reformed Homilet. ics 36 A very important figure in this respect is Klaas Schilder who in 1934 became. Dogmatics and Ethics professor at Kampen Even as a minister of religion he had. started around the year 1930 to criticize the exemplary sermons on the historical. texts in the Bible In this style of preaching Biblical figures were used as examples. for the hearers but Schilder felt that this meant that the role these people played in. redemptive history was not sufficiently recognized 37 He compared redemptive. history from Creation until Christ s return to the alphabet that runs from A to Z and. also with a clock indicating in which part of time a particular event takes place. Schilder felt that in order to accurately exposit a biblical passage one would need to. know its position in redemptive history He not only contrasted redemptive histo. rical preaching with exemplary preaching but also with the one sided attention for. the subjective experience of faith as taught in the pietistic tradition of the Dutch. Further Reformation and also by the Darbists and in the Pentecostal movement 38. Against the individualistic and psychological interpretation of redemptive history. which taught that what matters most is not Christmas Easter and Pentecost but. Christ s birth in our hearts Schilder pointed to the historical redemptive facts He. also contrasted this accent with ethical and dialectic theology. Early works 1936 1946, We will now return to Herman Ridderbos and see how he wrote about redemptive. history in these and related terms, In his doctoral dissertation The Tenor of the Sermon on the Mount accord. ing to Matthew 1936 he refers as early as on p 4 to the discussions that took. place at the time Ridderbos points to the great interest in and authority of the. Sermon on the Mount but also states that its importance should not be made. absolute because revelation passes through history which did not finish with the. Sermon on the Mount In mentioning the history of revelation he adopts Kuyper s. terminology In the first chapter he argues that the Sermon on the Mount gives a. picture of the first stage of Jesus ministry It is interesting that this view barely. surfaces in the remainder of the dissertation Ridderbos discusses the consequently. immanent and the consequently eschatological views on the Kingdom of God that. were defended at the time in relation to the Sermon on the Mount and also the. interpretations in between those two extremes 70 182 He distances himself from. the Sermon on the Mount Christianity as advocated by Mennonites religious. socialists and pacifists 199 204 Ridderbos disputes the view that each command. ment from the Sermon on the Mount has unlimited validity and argues that the. commandments given in the Sermon on the Mount are illustrations of the command. Gereformeerde homiletiek Wageningen Zomer en Keuning 1926 221. See Klaas Runia Het hoge woord in de lage landen Kampen Uitgeverij Kok 1985 116 24 He. describes Schilder as the father of redemptive historical teaching. C Trimp Heilsgeschiedenis en prediking Hervatting van een onvoltooid gesprek Kampen. Uitgeverij Van den Berg 1986 57 65 even distinguishes eleven aspects of Schilder s view on. redemptive historical teaching, ment to love He believes that the sometimes paradoxical mode of expression must. be judged on its character and that exceptions to Jesus commandments are not. impossible 242 7 However he does not offer any explicit indications of where the. Sermon on the Mount fits into redemptive history Instead he states that the funda. mentals of the Sermon on the Mount must be traced in the light of continued reve. lation 251 with this he means the development of revelation throughout Jesus. life 39 Even though he rejects unscriptural radicalism he recognizes that social and. international justice flow from the tenor of the Sermon on the Mount 251 and that. the kingdom proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount desires to be revealed every. where 255 6, The reason that Ridderbos did not yet use the terms redemptive history and. redemptive historical when writing his dissertation may be that his tutor Groshei. de was dismissive of them But even apart from these terms it is clear that at this. time he did not yet have a detailed view on redemptive historical exegesis. In the first part of his exposition of the Gospel of Matthew 1941 he does. use these terms but in an inconspicuous way For instance he states with Matthew. 1 1 that in the birth of Jesus Christ the overall redemptive historical line is conti. nued and that this birth is therefore fully in accordance with the prophecy and expec. tation of the Jewish nation regarding the coming Messiah 40. In his paper Self revelation and self concealment 1946 he discusses why. according to the Synoptic Gospels Jesus refused to be called the Messiah during his. lifetime According to William Wrede Jesus never believed he was the Messiah. and according to Albert Schweitzer Jesus Messiahship lay in the future Ridderbos. rejects both interpretations and states that it is the task of exegesis and of historia. revelationis to understand the preaching of Christ in the Gospel in its own character. and tenor 26 7 He recognizes that the Gospels are historical tendentious writ. ings not produced in the first place with the aims of a historian but with those of an. evangelist 29 Thus the Christological perspective sometimes displaces the histo. rical one 32 However Ridderbos believes that it cannot be denied that the picture. which the Gospels give us of Jesus revelation of himself as the Christ was deter. mined by the history of Jesus life on earth which means that there is no room for. an antedated picture of the exalted Christ 39 40 italics H N R At the same. time he recognizes that Jesus nowhere acts among the people claiming to be the. Christ 41 He even finds the theme of Jesus self concealment in the Gospel of. John even though John s Christ kerygma considerably differs from that of the. Synoptics in other respects 66 9 Ridderbos believes that the command of secrecy. flows from the character of Jesus Messiahship since the Gospels always link it to. his suffering and death 77 He points to the Old Testament background of the. Suffering Servant 79 and remarks that even in his suffering and death Jesus was. and needed to be the hidden Christ until the very end 83 Eventually he starts. discussing the redemptive historical meaning and effect of Jesus suffering and. death With this he means to say that irrespective of what people understand about. Jesus suffering and death it has an objective and forensic meaning After all. what is taking place is unknown until after it has taken place It lies behind that. This can be deduced from his exposition in Het Evangelie naar Matthe s I 83. Het Evangelie naar Matthe s I 19 See also p 217 with Mt 11 12 and p 290 with Mt 16 2 3. which a human being can distinguish in it And therefore that which takes place. between Jesus and the Father between the Messiah and his God is what determines. the meaning and character of his suffering and death 84 italics H N R He. continues by pointing to Mark 10 45 and 14 24 as texts that deal with Jesus. vicarious death in which lies the meaning of his hidden Messianic passion 84. This is the first time that Ridderbos explicitly speaks of the redemptive. historical meaning of Jesus suffering and death From this moment onward the. term will take a central place in his work,The Coming of the Kingdom 1950 in Dutch.
In his book The Coming of the Kingdom Ridderbos repeatedly uses the term. redemptive historical In the introduction he explains why In earlier books he. responded to the nineteenth and early twentieth century liberal views of Jesus He. valued some elements of these views for instance Albert Schweitzer s renewed. emphasis on the eschatological character of Jesus teaching Ridderbos felt how. ever that Schweitzer had swung too much toward the other extreme Neither did he. feel comfortable with Karl Barth s and Rudolf Bultmann s existentialistic inter. pretations again in spite of a partial appreciation of these Ridderbos found a. kindred spirit in Oscar Cullmann who taught in Strasburg Paris and Basel and. who strongly inspired him Cullmann argues in his book Christus und die Zeit Die. Urchristliche Zeit und Geschichtsauffassung published in 1946 41 that the linear. view of time is a characteristic of Biblical eschatology and soteriology 42 He regards. redemptive history as the core of New Testament preaching and is of the opinion. that whoever denies this opposes himself to the teachings of Christianity Cullmann. rejects the reconstructions of exegetes such as Schweitzer and Bultmann because. redemption as proclaimed in the Gospel of Christ is linked to a continuous event. spanning past present and future It was as if I had been waiting for this Ridder. bos later commented 43 Furthermore it became clear during this time that other. exegetes were also of the view that the kingdom that Jesus preached was both. present and future and had therefore not merely arrived either immanently or. eschatologically Ridderbos mentions the names of J Jeremias E Stauffer H M. Matter and W G K mmel amongst others xxviii, This development forms the background to his book The Coming of the. Kingdom in which Ridderbos states That which Jesus preaches is not a timeless. truth and what he brings is not only a new spirituality a new disposition No more. is it a new form of society in the sense of the social gospel or an action carried on. by men and slowly developing to its consummation The coming of the kingdom of. God is most certainly to be looked upon as the realization of the great drama of the. history of salvation in the sense of the Old Testament and of the Jewish apocalypses. This realization is not merely a matter of the future however It has started The. Z rich Zollikon Evangelischer Verlag 1946 English translation Christ and Time The Primitive. Christian Conception of Time and History transl Floyd V Filson London S C M Press 1951 3rd. rev ed Philadelphia The Westminster Press 1975, See also Cullmann s paper Le retour du Christ Esp rance selon le Nouveau Testament Neuch tel. Paris Delachaux et Niestle 1945 2nd ed mentioned by Ridderbos. In a conversation with the author on January 13 2004. great change of the aeons has taken place The center of history is in Christ s. coming in his victory over the demons in his death and resurrection xxviii. After two chapters on the Old Testament Judaism and John the Baptist. Ridderbos describes in chapters 3 to 7 in what sense the kingdom of heavens had. arrived with Jesus coming according to the Synoptic Gospels The titles of some of. his paragraphs are The Wicked One Overcome Jesus Power to Work Miracles. Speaking in Parables The Delay of the Judgment The Servant of the Lord The. Kingdom and the Cross The Gospel of the Poor Remission of Sins The Fatherhood. of God The Fulfillment of the Law The Application of the Demand of Love. Ridderbos not only speaks of fulfillment here but also of its provisional character. To him t he kingdom has come and yet the fulfillment is in abeyance 106. Chapter 8 is devoted to the coming of the kingdom and the church In. contrast to liberal exegetes Ridderbos assumes that Jesus sayings about the church. in Matthew 16 18 19 and 18 15 17 are authentic 334 42 He rejects the idea that. Jesus expected the imminent full arrival of God s kingdom and that the first Chris. tians were disappointed about its delay We see therefore that Ridderbos s redemp. tive historical view leaves room for the church as intended by Jesus. In chapter 9 which discusses the coming of the kingdom and the Lord s. Supper he argues that the specific redemptive historical significance of this Supper. is not to be sought primarily in the eschatological perspective disclosed by Jesus but. much rather in connection with Jesus expiatory death 416 He does not regard. the Lord s Supper as a resurrection meal but as a sacrificial expiatory meal of which. Good Friday is the focal point 431 2, Finally in chapter 10 he gives a detailed discussion of the Naherwartung. i e the imminence of the Kingdom as observed in the New Testament Ridderbos. recognizes that the Synoptic Gospels contain direct eschatological pronounce. ments by Jesus that seem to suggest the imminent coming of the kingdom e g. Matthew 10 23 Mark 9 1 13 30 Exegetes such as Schweitzer have taken those. texts seriously and deduced from them that Jesus was mistaken as regards the. imminent general arrival of God s kingdom To Ridderbos the idea that Jesus could. have been mistaken is out of the question With reference to Cullmann and others he. emphasizes that Christ s death and resurrection have brought the preliminary fulfill. ment of the coming of the Kingdom of heavens followed by a time of grace. which will last until the parousia His conclusion is that Jesus did not try to give the. impression that he would come back soon but that a longer term was possible or at. least that he did not indicate a specific time 514 6 523. It is clear from Ridderbos s reflections on this issue that he found it difficult. to do justice to the passages that seem to suggest an imminent end The term. redemptive historical is conspicuously absent from the final chapter. With hindsight it can be maintained that he gave a reliable picture of the. theology of the Synoptic Gospels as regards their view of the future To Ridderbos. however the theology of the Synoptics largely matches Jesus own preaching. Ridderbos was aware of the view that when Jesus preaching was committed to. writing the experiences of the early Christian church were incorporated but he. rejected it, Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures 1955 in Dutch. In Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures Ridderbos shows what the. implications are of his view on redemptive history for the origin and the authority of. the New Testament canon He argues that the history of the canon is part of church. history and not of redemptive history 12 16 44 Nevertheless he argues that the. authority of the New Testament canon is rooted in redemptive history i e in Christ. In his view Christ established a formal authority structure to be the source and. standard for all future preaching of the gospel 13 italics H N R This implies. that Christ wished his apostles to pass on orally and in writing that which took. place in the fullness of time Galatians 4 4 Ridderbos therefore speaks of conti. nuing revelation 15 The writings of the apostles include the written record of the. oral tradition which is borne by the exalted Christ 15 22 Ridderbos also refers to. inspiration by the Holy Spirit 14 29 30 He defends the intended closed character. of the canon 25 30 He maintains that not all New Testament writings need to be. written by apostles but that the important thing is that they contain the apostolic. tradition 32 He argues that the canon in its redemptive historical meaning is not. the product of the Christian community but rather that the Christian community is. destined to be the product of this canon 25 Thus the canon has produced the. In setting out his arguments he appeals to Cullmann several times 45 It is. clear that Ridderbos s view that the establishment of the canon was intended by. Christ correlates with his view that Christ did not intend to give the impression that. He would come back soon In this view there is therefore a time for the church and. Christ did not only leave his Spirit but also the New Testament canon. After arguing the place the New Testament canon takes in redemptive history. and thereby in Christ s will of intention Ridderbos discusses the character of the. authority of the New Testament On the one hand he states that the one thing that. will make or break the authority of the New Testament message is the factuality of. the historical events which it proclaims 55 On the other hand he sees that the. gospel writers wrote with relative freedom in presenting the witness they had. received and in their use of each other s writings 66 He qualifies the authority of. the New Testament scriptures as follows The New Testament is not a book of. revelation in the sense that all of its pronouncements intend directly or indirectly to. give answers to the questions with which life confronts us 57 The New Testa. ment s teaching is certainly not intended to provide us with all sorts of theoretical. and practical teaching or insight which as such do not proceed from the revelation. of God in Jesus Christ 74 Ridderbos then points at the redemptive historical. character of the knowledge that the New Testament imparts 75 It becomes. apparent that the term redemptive historical here obtains a restrictive meaning as. regards the fundamentalist interpretation of Scriptures according to which not only. The references are given to the pages in the second revised translation cf n 14. Yet Cullmann also places accents that differ from Ridderbos For instance in La Tradition. Probl me ex g tique historique et th ologique Neuch tel Paris Delachaux et Niestle 1953 43. he states Nous sommes absolument d accord avec la th ologie catholique lorsqu elle insiste sur le. fait que l Eglise elle m me a fait le Canon We absolutely agree with Catholic theology where it. insists that the Church itself made the Canon italics O C. the redemptive facts but also many other details should be accepted as historical. Works on the apostle Paul 1952 1966, In Ridderbos s interpretation of the Pauline Epistles we see a different aspect of the.
term redemptive historical becoming apparent In his work Paul and Jesus 1952. in Dutch he remarks Under the influence of the basic theme of the Reformation. justification by faith was for a long time viewed as the actual content of Paul s. gospel around which all the other elements of his epistles were grouped 63. Ridderbos recognizes that justification by faith is part of the core of Paul s preach. ing and is not a secondary polemic directed against the Jews as taught by Wrede. or a side issue within the main stream of the mystical doctrine of redemption of. being in Christ as taught by Schweitzer Yet Ridderbos observes that by. approaching Paul s doctrine exclusively from the standpoint of justification by faith. there is a danger of depriving Paul s preaching of its redemptive historical dynamic. and of making it into a timeless treatment of the vital question how is one justified. before God 63 After all whoever attempts to understand Paul from the perspec. tive of this personal question loses sight of the fact that Paul knew himself to be the. herald of the fullness of time and of the new things that had arrived in the frame. work of time through Christ 63 4, This emphasis on redemptive history is a regular feature in his commentaries. on the Pauline epistles Ridderbos points out that Paul wrote about the history of. God s involvement with Israel and humankind starting with Adam Abraham. Moses and the prophets and culminating in the salvation that appeared in Christ 46. This implies that when Paul writes about baptism he does not in the first place talk. about a mystical or ethical renewal of man but about a renewal in the redemptive. historical and eschatological sense This means that the person who is being bap. tized is being incorporated into something that has taken place in Christ once and for. all Ridderbos uses the term corporate Aan de Romeinen 114 125 to describe. this he means by this that the believer is part of a collective that was first ruled by. sin and later saved by Christ In doing this he attempts to shift the focus away from a. mystical interpretation of Paul that is concerned with the spiritual development of. the individual According to Ridderbos the apostle was not concerned with the. spiritual or mystical experience of the individual in baptism or with a scheme for. spiritual progress and the determination of growth in moral conduct In his view. Paul places the emphasis on that which the believer has received in Christ without. explicitly being concerned with the believer s personal experiences Or in Ridder. bos s own words The corporate redemptive historical viewpoint explains both the. forensic and the ethical salvation from sin Aan de Romeinen 125 His emphasis. on the redemptive historical interpretation of Paul is so strong that in discussing the. strong and the weak in Romans 14 he remarks that there Paul does not write. from a redemptive historical viewpoint but from a pastoral one Aan de Romeinen. For instance The Churches of Galatia 129 135 137 147 8 Aan de Romeinen 20 81 98 112. 124 125 128 129 134 135 203 251 261 Aan de Kolossenzen 181 203 205 6. In Paul 321 he makes a similar remark about Paul s admonition regarding the authorities in. In his monumental book Paul 1966 in Dutch Ridderbos confirms that his. redemptive historical interpretation which he links with Luther and Calvin is. opposed to the emphasis on what he here calls the order of salvation or redemp. tive order whereby he has pietism mysticism and moralism in mind In the. redemptive order interpretation of Paul the emphasis shifted to the process of. individual appropriation of the salvation given in Christ and to its mystical and. moral effect in the life of believers 14 With approval he quotes two sentences. from Wrede s conclusions That which is peculiar to Paul and also new in him is. this that he made redemptive facts the incarnation the death and the resurrection. of Christ the foundation of religion Redemptive history is the backbone of Pauline. Christianity 21 48, This redemptive historical view on Paul is Ridderbos s instrument by which. he distinguishes himself from the religionsgeschichtlich history of religions. approach and also from Schweitzer s mystical interpretation Against Bultmann s. demythologizing interpretation of eschatology and his existentialistic reading of. Paul he argues that such a vision leaves no room for an eschatological redemptive. history in the sense of a train of events advancing toward the consummation which. have already taken place and are still to be anticipated in Christ 42 In Ridder. bos s view this emphasis on the redemptive historical and corporate as against the. individual and mystical does not find its determinative point of departure in the new. creature but in the new creation For instance he interprets 2 Corinthians 5 17 as. follows If any man is in Christ he is belongs to the new creation The old things. have passed away behold New things have come According to Ridderbos this. does not in the first place concern the individual regeneration the individual past. and the personal renewal 206 Similarly being in the Spirit denotes not a sub. jective state of consciousness but an objective mode of being 221. As in earlier works Ridderbos stresses in his interpretation of Paul that. God s promises have been fulfilled Behold now is the acceptable time behold. now is the day of salvation 2 Corinthians 6 2 In this he distinguishes between the. already and the not yet 487 He does however recognize that Paul did not. make allowance for a centuries long continuing development of the present world. order 489 49 He points out that on the one hand the apostle writes the time is. short 1 Corinthians 7 29 and on the other hand he warns against an over excited. Naherwartung in 2 Thessalonians 2 489 511 In contrast to many historical. critical exegetes Ridderbos recognizes 2 Thessalonians as a genuine epistle of. Ridderbos s view that Paul must be interpreted redemptive historically and. not according to the order of salvation seems strikingly similar to Klaas. Schilder s We can also distinguish an affinity with Karl Barth who had little. sympathy for the emphasis on the religious experiences of the pious person. However by Ridderbos s own admission he was mainly inspired by Cullmann in. Ridderbos borrows this from W Wrede Paulus T bingen J C B Mohr 1907 2nd ed 103 4. English translation Paul transl E Lummis London Philip Green 1907. Also Cullmann Le retour du Christ 25 28, However several historical critical exegetes do regard 2 Thessalonians as an authentic epistle of. Paul thus James D G Dunn The Theology of Paul the Apostle Grand Rapids Mi William B Eerd. mans Publishing Company 1997, this respect The renewed emergence of the Pentecostal Movement in the 1960s was. to strengthen him in this view In a radio speech which was subsequently pub. lished 51 he discusses the view which originated in Pentecostal circles that if some. one believes and trusts Christ he or she is not therefore necessarily baptized with. the Holy Spirit He opposes this view by quoting Paul who says that we all who. are baptized have been incorporated in the church and have been baptized in the. Spirit 1 Corinthians 12 13 He received much criticism on this radio broadcast and. this article from people who accused him of writing about something he did not. understand because he did not give room to the work of the Spirit Their main. objection was that he linked faith in Christ and being baptized with the Spirit too. closely and that by contrast faith is a first stage on the road to baptism with the Holy. Spirit Ridderbos then points to the redemptive historical character of the outpour. ings of the Spirit as described in the book of Acts 52 He writes that he does not. propose that such manifestations of the Spirit do not occur today but that the Bible. teaches that the Spirit is given to all who have been baptized in Christ and who in. faith sit at His table He points to the richness of faith in Christ which he describes. as a living struggling praying principle inside He denies the view attributed to. him that whoever believes will therefore also automatically have the Spirit and he. recognizes that if you think you are standing watch out that you do not fall 1. Corinthians 10 12 However he maintains his objection to those who distinguish. between having Christ and having the Spirit,The Gospel of John 1987 1992 in Dutch.
Remarkably the subtitle of Ridderbos s commentary on the fourth Gospel is A. Theological Commentary 53 He explains his emphasis on theological exegesis by. saying that he is mainly interested in the significance of the gospel message that the. Evangelist had in view as he wrote xiii Even though the terms redemptive. historical and salvation historical occur more than once in this book 54 their use. is not very specific and is even absent from the introductory paragraph History and. revelation 12 4 Ridderbos emphasizes that the meaning of history as such is not. pushed back in this Gospel but admits that the chronological viewpoint has only. marginal significance 13 114 It would however be wrong to believe he intended. to practice theological exegesis in the sense that this Gospel is only concerned. with the message or theology and not with the historical reliability of the events it. describes 680 3, The tenor of Ridderbos s redemptive historical exegesis. We can now draw several conclusions We saw that Ridderbos contrasts the terms. redemptive history salvation history and redemptive historical with various. other views His view that the New Testament must be understood in a redemptive. historical framework entails that God has promised the coming of His kingdom. within the framework of the concrete history of humankind In the coming of Christ. this promise was provisionally fulfilled However Christ did not announce that. Broadcast on June 13 1965 published in Gereformeerd Weekblad 20 June 18 1965 370 1. Gereformeerd Weekblad 21 July 16 1965 10 11,In Dutch Proeve van een theologische exegese. For instance The Gospel of John 3 51 109 169 321 328 335 416 430 465 651. history would end soon after his resurrection as if the kingdom would soon come in. all its fullness The time of the church would come first sharing in the provisional. fulfillment of the promise of the kingdom With this view Ridderbos distinguishes. himself in the first place from those exegetes who regard the coming of the kingdom. as one sidedly imminent implying that it has come to earth through Christ s. coming Secondly he distinguishes himself from those including Schweitzer who. shift all focus to the eschatological character of Jesus preaching of God s kingdom. After all this view leaves no room for the fulfillment of God s promises at the time. of Christ s ministry on earth Thirdly Ridderbos distinguishes himself from Bult. mann in as far as the latter places all emphasis on the choice for Christ that man. needs to make irrespective of any concrete development of history. Ridderbos not only contrasts his view on redemptive historical exegesis with. those of liberal exegetes In as far as the traditional Reformed interpretation of. Scripture emphasizes the order of salvation i e is focussed on the spiritual. development and experiences of the believer Ridderbos and this is our fourth. point opposes this by saying that Scripture is not concerned with this According. to Ridderbos the Bible places all emphasis on what has been done for man object. tively and forensically in Christ This means that whoever believes in Christ and. has been baptized should not focus on his or her own pious inner self but on Christ. in whom God gives his promises, Fifthly Ridderbos contrasts his view on redemptive historical exegesis with. the naive fundamentalist interpretation of the Scriptures which believes that even all. those matters that are not directly linked to the redemptive facts need to be inter. preted as historical facts This view is apparent in his argument that Christ intended. the creation of the New Testament canon so that this too is founded in redemptive. The influence of Ridderbos, Finally we will now briefly look at the question to what extent Ridderbos s work is. still influential today, All over the world his books are being used by Orthodox Reformed and.
Evangelical theologians They appreciate the way he maintains the historicity of the. redemptive facts and does not consider any New Testament epistles as pseudepi. graphic But even outside those circles he is still well respected For instance. Dunn s The Theology of Paul the Apostle dating from 1997 contains numerous. references to Ridderbos s book on Paul 55, In his native country it is mainly his commentaries on the Pauline Epistles. his book on Paul and his commentary on the Gospel of John that are being used but. this does not mean that his specific view of salvation historical exegesis as opposed. to exegesis on the basis of the order of salvation is still widely accepted today On. the contrary there is a general call for the experience of faith and spirituality The. view that whoever is baptized has been objectively and corporately incorporated in. Christ and has no need to consider his subjective experience of faith is shared by. only a few now that Barthian teaching has also lost much of its influence However. with regard to Ridderbos s influence one needs to remember that two of his most. voluminous works The Coming of the Kingdom and Paul An Outline of his Theol. ogy can be categorized as Biblical theology56 and that this subject is still intensively. taught at Kampen and elsewhere, For many decades after the Second World War Ridderbos was of great. importance for the education of many students preachers and members of the. Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and elsewhere He had a clear view of the. Gospel of Christ and did not swim with the tide He was open to new developments. but also knew how to keep his distance In comparison to Kuyper Greijdanus and. Grosheide he showed more openness for the critical questions about the historicity. and the authority of Scriptures Inevitably the positions have shifted since then It is. characteristic of his greatness that he can appreciate this. See also H N Ridderbos De theologie van het Nieuwe Testament in Inleiding tot de studie van. het Nieuwe Testament ed A F J Klijn Kampen Uitgeverij Kok 1982 173 90.

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