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Reading German for Theological Studies

A Grammar and Reader

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Every PhD student in biblical studies is expected to read German, but there are surprisingly few resources to help students learn to read and translate scholarly theological works.

This streamlined grammar and reader by an experienced teacher and German-language expert presents biblical passages and theological readings of gradually increasing difficulty. The book introduces students to the German language immediately with readings from the Bible, using familiar passages to help students see sentence patterns. Exercises for the beginning readings focus on the grammar of the sentences. Students are then introduced to dictionary articles and excerpts from essays and books, and they can check their translations against the answers given in the back of the book. As students complete the exercises, they gradually learn vocabulary and gain an understanding of how German sentences are formed. By the end of the book, students should be able to read articles on their own.

The book includes readings from:

· The Old and New Testaments
· Walter Bauer
· Karl Barth
· Dietrich Bonhoeffer
· Gerhard Lohfink
· Jürgen Moltmann
· And several important German theological dictionaries, encyclopedias, and commentaries.

Suited for self-study or classroom use, this book helps students gain the proficiency needed for scholarly theological research.


How to Get the Most from This Book
Instructions for Readings 1-6
1. Amos 2,1-3
2. Amos 2,4-5
3. Amos 2,6-7
4. Amos 3,1-2
5. Amos 3,13-15
6. Amos 7,1-3
Instructions for Readings 7-16
7. Matthäus 7,24-27
8. Lukas 10,25-37
9. Matthäus 5,13-16
10. Matthäus 8,1-4
11. Markus 1,40-45
12. Lukas 5,12-16
13. Matthäus 14,13-21
14. Markus 6,30-44
15. Lukas 9,10b-17
16. Johannes 6,1-15
17. Die synoptische Frage
18. Bethlehem
19. Beelzebul
20. Jeremias, Der Prophet Amos
21. Die soziale Krise des 8. Jahrhunderts
22. Johannes der Täufer
23. Moltmann, Christliche Erneuerungen
24. Bonhoeffer, „Tischgemeinschaft"
Instructions for Readings 25-29
25. Pneumatologie and Spiritualität
26. Luther
27. Calvin
28. Zwingli
29. Klauck, „Am Ende einer Reise"
30. „An die Kulturwelt!"
31. Barth, Vorwort zu Der Römerbrief
32. Barth, Nachwort zu Schleiermacher
33. Bonhoeffer, „Beichte und Abendmahl"
34. Die Barmer Erklärung
35. Ein Vortrag über Niemöller
36. Bauer, Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum
Instructions for Readings 37-45
37. Glaube
38. Theologische Themen in ihren biblischen Kontexten
39. Moltmann, „Folgen der Nachfolge"
40. Grillmeier, Jesus der Christus im Glauben der Kirche
41. Barth, Der Römerbrief
42. Paulus als Seelsorger
43. Lohfink, Wem gilt die Bergpredigt?
44. Lohfink, Das Vaterunser
45. Ein Lied in Frakturschrift
Learning Resources
Supplementary Bible Readings
Zahlen (Numbers)
Reference Grammar
Answer Key to Assignments
Works Cited
German-English Glossary


"I wish this book had been available when I was beginning my own graduate studies. It is not too simple and not too complex; it doesn't begin either at square 1 or too far around the board. Those who work through it, including advanced students and veteran scholars, will not only enhance their own linguistic competence and confidence but get better acquainted with classic texts from Amos and Matthew through Luther and Calvin to Barth and Moltmann. The excellent pedagogy--with progress checks and answers in the back--makes the book helpful for both classroom and individual study."

M. Eugene Boring, I. Wylie and Elizabeth M. Briscoe Professor of New Testament Emeritus, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University

"After many years in the classroom, Thompson offers her unique pedagogical expertise to anyone wanting to learn German for theological studies. Her focus on reading comprehension and discipline-specific vocabulary equips students with the necessary skills for engaging theological sources in German. This is the book I wish I'd had when learning German!"

Heather Gorman, professor of New Testament, Johnson University

"For many years, Carolyn Thompson has successfully taught theological German to master's-level students, inspiring them to learn the language and use it extensively in their own research. This book marks the flowering of her skillful teaching, thoughtful reading, and deep awareness of the real needs of students. Beginning with the German Bible and moving toward representative theological texts of several periods, this volume leads the student step-by-step toward competence in reading German theological literature with understanding and appreciation. Everything has been designed with the beginner in mind, but even those who read German often will find here an excellent refresher course. Highly recommended!"

Mark W. Hamilton, Robert and Kay Onstead Professor of Biblical Studies, Abilene Christian University

The Author

  1. Carolyn Roberts Thompson

    Carolyn Roberts Thompson

    Carolyn Roberts Thompson (MAT, Southwest Texas State University) has taught German for reading theological texts for over three decades at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. She was a presenter and consultant for the College Board on preparing...

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