The Beginnings of the Church in the New Testament
F. Hahn, A. Strobel, and E. Schweizer. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1970. 104 pages.
In three powerful essays, these three Lutheran theologians exegete primary New Testament passages in an attempt to focus on the church that emerged after the death and resurrection of Jesus. From the perspectives of “Pre-Easter Discipleship,” “Discipleship in the Light of the Easter-event,” and “Discipleship and Church,” the writers zero in on the witness of the documents. Although they operate from form-critical approaches, and some of their premises are far too casually presented (speaking of John, Strobel in passing comments, “i.e., chapter 21, which is not Johannine,” p. 55; “the exclusively rabbinic form in which this is stated here means, however, that it cannot be a saying of Jesus,” p. 33), the overall understanding of discipleship that emerges, and understanding of the nature of the church, is one that compels the reader to re-examine his own commitment, “the basic decision of faith” (p. 72).
Another important section is that dealing with the resurrection, where Strobel carefully traces the evidence of both the “empty tomb” and of the “many appearances.” Here he stresses the necessary dynamic of both cross and empty tomb, when he talks of “the dialectical relationship between the death and the resurrection of Jesus; in which, because of Jesus’ obedience, God revealed himself as God for us” (p. 62).