Joachim Gnilkas Obituary

The father of European and especially of the teutophone Catholic Bible Scholars, Joachim Gnilka passed away 18th January, 2018. His funeral is going to take place in Munich on Wednesday, 31st January.

He was a great friend and supporter of Eastern European, Polish and Hungarian Bible scholars already during the Communist era. In his opinion and according to authoritative German Catholic Bible scholars, his last greatest act was his continuous support towards the Szeged International Biblical Conference which he cared for until his death and which he would visit soon and even give lectures within the framework of the conference.

We would have liked to give him our conference volume on the Letter to the Romans which will have been published by August 2018 and hand it over to him with a dedication note for his 90th birthday as a sign of our gratitude for allowing for a conference to be running which, in the past 30 years, has organized 300 lectures and has published the results of the debates in Szeged in more than 25 volumes; from now on, however, we are publishing the studies in German /English.

Joachim Gnilka was born is Głubczyce in the Silezian Lowlands and he was well familiarized with the Calvary of Eastern European Bible scholars since he started his studies in Eichstätt, in Eastern Germany. Then he went to study in Würzburg, and later to Rome, and he completed his Biblical and eastern languages studies at the Sapienza University of Rome. 

He was ordained a priest in Würzburg in 1953 by Cardinal Julius Döpfner, and he served there as a chaplain, too. He got his theologian doctorate in Rome in 1955; Rudolf Schnackenburg was his consultant for his habilitation; and he worked as a private teacher between 1959 and 1962.

From 1962 to 1975 he taught New Testament exegesis in Munster, where he would take comprehensive exams along with Josef Ratzinger. He worked in Munich from 1972 to 1997, when he became a pensioner.

His most well-known students included Hans-Josef Klauck, Detlev Dormeyer, Katharina D. Oppel and Thomas Schmeller. As a result of his interest in the theology of the Second Vatican Council, he would teach hundreds of students in each class at all the universities. His students also included the feminist Elisabet Schüssel Fiorenza, who later became an American Bible scholar and a famous representative of feminist Bible studies.

He would write his commentaries because the number of those interested in Biblical studies as a result of the Vatican Council had increased; these commentaries were published by Herder publishing house and sold in great numbers. The most significant ones include the Commentaries on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John as well as the commentaries on the letters of Philemon, the Pilippians and the Colossians.

From 1973 to 1988 he was a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and from 1983 he was a member of an international theological committee. He was an internationally recognized Bible scholar who was among the first ones to join the academic group gathering of ecumenical Bible scholars called Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas.

He wrote more than 12 monographs; from 1983 he was the editor of the series entitled Neuer Echte Bible, and later in Rome he was a guest professor at the Urbaniana University.  In 2005 he was awarded the Stefanus Prize in Hungary.

He was the supporter of the Szeged International Biblical Conference almost from its foundation; therefore to show our gratitude we created the Joachim Gnilka Prize for excellent Hungarian Bible scholars. This prize has been given to Archbishop of Alba Iulia Dr. György Jakubinyi, professor from Bern Ulrich Luz, Cistercian Abbot Dénes Farkasfalvy, Lutheran theologesse Professor Dr. Jutta Hausmann, Biblical scholar of the Reformed Church Professor Dr. Imre Peres, Catholic professor László Gyürki, Doctoress of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Professor Doctor Ida Frölich, who is also an expert in the Qumran and the head of deparment at Pázmány Péter Catholic University.

Works by him published in Hungarian: Márk evangélium kommentárja (2000) (Commentary on the Gospel of Mark), A Názáreti Jézus - Üzenet és történelem ( 2001) (Jesus of Nazareth – Message and History) Újszövetség teológiája ( 2005) (The Theology of the New Testament), Biblia és a Korán (2007) (Bible and Koran); furthermore, the magazines Vigilia, Pannonhalmi Szemle and Mérleg have published several of his articles in Hungarian.

György Benyik
director of Szeged International Biblical Conference

Prof. Dr. Joachim Gnilka †

Am 15. Januar 2018 ist Prof. Dr. Joachim Gnilka, einer der renommiertesten deutschen Neutestamentler der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts, im Alter von 89 Jahren in München verstorben. Joachim Gnilka wurde am 8. Dezember 1928 in Leobschütz, Oberschlesien (heute zu Polen gehörig), geboren. Er studiete in Würzburg, Eichstätt und Rom Katholische Theologie und Orientalische Sprachen und wurde im Jahre 1953 in Würzburg zum Priester geweiht. Nach ersten Jahren in der Seelsorge promovierte er im Jahre 1955 in Würzburg bei Rudolf Schnackenburg mit einer Dissertation zum Thema: „Ist 1 Kor 3,10-15 ein Schriftzeugnis für das Fegfeuer? Eine exegetisch-historische Untersuchung“. Im Jahre 1959 wurde er ebenfalls an der Universität Würzburg mit einer Studie zum Thema „Die Verstockung Israels. Jes 6,9-10 in der Theologie der Synoptiker“ habilitiert. Im Jahre 1962 wurde er zum Ordinarius für Neutestamentliche Exegese an der Katholisch-Theologischen Fakultät der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität in Münster/Westfalen berufen, bevor er von 1975-1997 am Lehrstuhl für Neutestamentliche Exegese und Biblische Hermeneutik an der Katholisch-Theologischen Fakultät der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München wirkte.

Joachim Gnilka hat zahlreiche wissenschaftliche Kommentare zu neutestamentlichen Schriften, vor allem dem Corpus Paulinum, verfasst, die sich dadurch auszeichnen, dass sie nicht nur akribisch ausgearbeitet, sondern auch in einer über den fachwissenschaftlichen Leserkreis hinaus verständlichen Sprache abgefasst sind. Mustergültig sind auch seine Bücher zu Paulus und Jesus sowie zur Neutestamentlichen Theologie. Das Gespräch mit dem Judentum war ihm ein Herzensanliegen. In den Jahren nach seiner Emeritierung hat er sich besonders dem Dialog mit dem Islam gewidmet. Als er sein Buch „Bibel und Koran. Was sie verbindet, was sie trennt“ veröffentlichte (2004), konnte man noch nicht ahnen, welche Bedeutung das christlich-islamische Gespräch noch gewinnen würde. Im Jahre 2007 ließ er das Buch „Die Nazarener und der Koran. Eine Spurensuche“ folgen.

Joachim Gnilka war in vielen bedeutenden Kommissionen vertreten, der Päpstlichen Bibelkommission ebenso wie der Internationalen Theologenkommission und dem Colloquium Paulinum Oecumenicum, Rom. Besonders hervorzuheben ist das Engagement Gnilkas für die „International Biblical Conference Szeged“, die er über seine theologischen Beiträge hinaus nachhaltig förderte. Wahrscheinlich hatte er eine besondere Nähe zur osteuropäischen Kirche, da er schließlich aus Oberschlesien stammte und seine Wurzeln nie vergaß.

Ich selbst habe von Joachim Gnilkas wissenschaftlicher Arbeit viel gelernt, ihn als einen liebenswerten Kollegen hoch geschätzt, dem das Neue Testament die Quelle seines Lebens war. Möge er nun die Frucht dafür ernten, dass er Generationen von Theologiestudentinnen und –studenten die Botschaft des Neuen Testaments erschloss. Requiescat in pace!

Rudolf Hoppe, Köln


Text file (Word) - Lecturer (Google sheet)

 The Hellenistic and Judaic Background to the New Testament

 Date of the conference: 27th-29th August, 2018

Venue: Dóm Conference Centre, Szeged

Deadline for subscription for our lecturers:  1st May, 2018

Patrons of the Conference:

Dr. György Jakubinyi archbishop of Alba Iulia , Dr. Diocesan László Kiss-Rigó , Prof. Dr. Joachim Gnilka, Prof. Dr. Rector Szabolcs Szuromi (Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest) Prof. Dr. Levente Balázs Martos, member of the Pontifical Biblical Institute. The Biblical Conference in 2018 is organized by Szeged International Biblical Conference Foundation.

Our special lecturers invited include Reimund Bieriger (Leuven), Udo Schnelle (Erlangen-Nürnberg) and Karl- Wilhelm Niebuhr (Jena).

Klaus Berger Carsten Colpe (Ed.) Religionsgeschichtliches Textbuch zum Neuen Testament Texte zum Neuen Testament. Das Neue Testament Deutsch., 1987.
English version: Boring, M. Eugene, Klaus Berger, and Carsten Colpe, eds.
Hellenistic Commentary to the New Testament. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995.

During the translation works of the book of Klaus Berger it became clear to me (and it was an overwhelming revelation) that in the texts of the New Testament authors there are a great number of ancient topics, genres and sometimes even concrete texts that live on in different forms, which have exercised various effects on the text of the Bible. There has not been a conference organized in Hungary on this topic so far with Bible scholars and experts of Hellenism invited at the same time (despite the fact that there have been many Hellenistic works translated from the original language to Hungarian by Hungarian classical scholars, Qumran specialists, Assyriologists, the experts of Rabbinic literature, etc.) This is why we would like to look for the translators and experts of non-Christian Hellenistic texts and invite them to give a lecture at our Conference.

The objective of our Conference is the analysis of the relationship between Christian and non-Christian texts. We are willing to send the above mentioned work (Klaus Berger, Carsten Colpe eds.) to the lecturers in PDF format in German or in English and as soon as it is ready even in Hungarian so as to make it easier to find examples for the comparison of concrete texts.

All lecturers are asked to introduce their chosen topic through the quotation of concrete Hellenistic texts, verses from the Old and the New Testaments and extracts from the Early Christian literature. Please make sure that in the text sent to be printed there is the related bibliography in footnotes.

Lecturers should apply for the conference by providing the title of their lecture via email or by typing it in the Google sheet that can be found on the homepage of the Szeged International Biblical Conference. The deadline for application is 1st May, 2018.

Please also make sure that by 15th June, 2018 you will have sent the abstract of your lecture in Hungarian or in a foreign language. The abstract should contain the title of the lecture (in two languages) and the source texts as well as the most important theses of your lecture.

Apart from those of special guests, lectures should not exceed 20 minutes, each of which is followed by a brief and mainly professional debate (a maximum of 10 minutes). On every day of the Conference everyone can join in the debates organized in smaller groups and presided by the lecturers in the workshop section.  

The languages of the conference are Hungarian, German and English. We plan to publish the lectures given there about one year after the conference in English or in German.  The extension of the written study should be between 25.000 and 30.000 characters with spaces included. The Hungarian texts of the lectures will be uploaded to the homepage of the Conference.

The deadline for sending us the final version of the lecture is 26th November, 2018.

Those who will be lecturers at our Conference for the first time should also send us their brief scholarly CVs (or if it can be found on the internet, please send us the link – it should not exceed 5.000 characters with spaces) mentioning their three most important publications. We would kindly ask you all to provide us with your scholarly title and your current workplace.

Please, make sure that the Hebrew. Greek, Syrian etc. words are transcribed in Latin according to scholarly transcription. The publication of texts arriving after the 26th of November, 2018 may be doubtful. In case your text extends the above mentioned length, it should be negotiated and permitted by the editor.

We offer free board and lodging to our lecturers for the time of the conference as well as participation in the cultural programmes free of charge. Persons accompanying our lecturers are not automatically catered for free of charge. The Conference is open to all; university students may register with a discount.

Please, inform us as soon as possible and before 1st May, 2018 if you have any special requirement concerning meals. Please, make sure that you send us the exact date and time of your arrival and your departure before 1st June, 2018. This will help us a lot in organizing the event.

Szeged, 4th November, 2017

Dr. György Benyik parish-priest
Director for SZNBK
(Szeged International Biblical Conference)