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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Preaching the Gospel

I've been translating an essay written by Dr. Volker Stolle. The essay was published in the Lutheran Theological College of Oberursel's Festschrift. The Festschrift was printed in 1998 in celebration of a fifty-year jubilee. The German text of Stolle's essay can be found at the SELK website.

Dr. Stolle originally presented this essay in 1997 at a theologcial seminar; he reworked the presentation for printing in the Festschrift.

The following are a few paragraphs:

,,Preaching the gospel” - Proclaiming Jesus and Preaching in the Church
Volker Stolle

In the task, ,,to preach the gospel,” the proclamation of Jesus (Mark 1,14) stretches as an arc from the apostles (1 Thessalonians 2,9; Galatians 2,2) to the Church office today (Mark of 13,10). Wherefore the New Testament says that the proclamation of the gospel has continued until this day. In this solid expression ,,preach the gospel” lies, as well as a key to grasp the New Testament in its self-understanding, also a formation-point in order to recognize its current presence in Church practice. The sermon on the gospel is therefore the event that constitutes the permanent and actual message of the Bible throughout the ages. Whoever realizes this has then understood an essential part, namely, the connection of the Church’s life today with the New Testament.
I. The many gospels and the one gospel

A ,,gospel” means the transmission of news by a messenger. ,,Wages” means that appropriate payment is properly disbursed to the messenger. The apostolic gospel is valid based on an instruction of Jesus, that ,,those who proclaim the gospel should get their wages from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9,14), thus Paul chose to preach the gospel for free (1 Corinthians 9,[18]; 2 Corinthians 11,7). Such current messengers are commonplace in private and public life. Characteristically, it is only spoken about them in the plural in the New Testament era.

Since it concerns transmission of news in each case on completely determined persons, it lies in the fact that the messages already brought for its addressees have a significant meaning. When the message reaches its hearers, it more or less strongly changes their lives. The event communicated in the message becomes effective by this information for the message hearers of the message, by its interrelations in their life, it intervenes, arranges, and determines again their further development more or less enduringly. As Timothy, for instance, brought good tidings (euangelizestai) from the congregation in Thessalonica, he had the same concerns as Paul did; he revives, comforting the connecting congregation in faith and love (1 Thessalonians 3,6-8). A gospel, therefore, proves to be a powerful event for its hearers. It doesn’t remain without consequences; it can even dominate time in an almost epochal way.

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