Martin Buber als Ausleger des Alten Testaments : eine kritische Würdigung seines bibelwissenschaftlichen Werkes im Aspekt der neuzeitlichen theologischen Exegese und Hermeneutik
The thesis presented consists of three main sections: 1. Section A includes comprehensive and detailed critical analyses of Buber's monographs on the Old Testament, "Konigtum Gottes", "Der Gesalbte", "Der Glaube der Propheten", "Abraham der Seher", "Moses", "Recht und Unrecht. Deutung einiger Psalmen"; furthermore the translation of the Hebrew Bible into German is studied, a work Buber had carried out with the aid of Franz Rosenzweig. Buber's statements and interpretation are elaborated and compared with those of recent and contemporary scholars. This investigation brings to light Buber's peculiar and very often individualistic view. He rejects literary criticism which assumes written sources such as J, E, P in the Pentateuch; correspondingly he tries to trace strands of orally and then literarily transmitted traditions which were ingeniously combined by the Redactor(s). This redactional achievement is regarded by Buber as of great importance and of high quality. Modern research has made evident that Buber frequently perceives the proper relations and facts, more, however, through intuition than through convincing arguments (the details of the ancient traditions being usually far more complicated than Buber thinks them to be). His idea of Yahweh as Melekh of the wandering Israelite tribes e.g. has been proved to be wrong, but the conception of the leading and wayfaring God was expounded by Buber earlier and more clearly than in the studies of other scholars. Peculiar to Buber is the idea of an essential uUity of the Hebrew Bible to which so called "guiding words" ("Leitworte") make reference. In his translation (which shows a masterly command and sympathetic understanding of both Hebrew and German) he makes use of such "guiding words" and of the sensuous basic meaning of the individual verbal roots. The fundamental and predominant principle of Buber's hermeneutics appears in all his books on the Bible. It is the principle of dialogue between God and Man; and it is here that Buber finds the essence both of prophecy and of Israel's faith as a whole.2. Section B tries to elucidate the theological, philosophical, and biographical background of Buber's hermeneutics. It comes out in his view of myth, saga, and historical reality. There is a clearly rationalistic approach to biblical miracle stories, but besides this an irrational intuition leads him to deeper understanding. Dilthey's influence becomes evident. Buber cannot be understood apart from the role that mysticism and chassidism played in his life; it was, however, the Hebrew Bible which helped him to overcome self-sufficient mysticism and chassidic gnosticism. Knowing about the relation of dialogue between God and Man, Buber can remain neither a pure mystic nor a pure existentialist (in the sense of modern existential philosophy). He is "atypical". His interpretation of the Bible is critical, not orthodox or fundamentalist in its approach, although he cannot deny the Jewish and rabbinical background of his learning. Personal religious experience goes hand in hand with scholarly methods of criticism. The principles of dialogue and existential commitment make him strictly discriminate between prophecy and apocalyptic. God speaks to Man in the present historical situation and claims a personal decision. There is no room for any speculations or taking a peep into an already certain and immutable future. The directness of the eternal revelation at every time and the continuous possibility of dialogue between God and Man are theological conceptions that exclude a particular salvation history ("Heilsgesohichte"). Buber is primarily interested in God's speaking, not in God's acting in oertain historical events. Buber's understanding of divine revelation cannot but regard every religion on earth as a sphere of God's disclosure. In opposition to the religion of the Bible, however, the pagan religions misunderstand God and his disclosure. But even for those living with biblical traditions God Himself may disappear for a time as the sun disappears in eclipse. Yet an eclipse is no extinction, and Buber demonstrates, by reference to Job and Deutero-Isaiah, the relevance of the Old Testament as a source of hope in a dark age.3. Section C summarizes the conclusions of the thesis and appreciates the work of Buber as an outstanding scholar - a work that is fascinating and stimulating even where we have to reject not a few of its results.