Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Luke 17:21 and Houston Stewart Chamberlain

Jozef Korzeniowski was born in Poland of Polish parents, but early in his life migrated to England where he rose to fame as the writer Joseph Conrad.  Conrad is a remarkable example of success in transnational authorship.  His achievement was all the more remarkable because of the lack of connection between the Slavic languages and English.

Less well known is the Englishman Houston Stewart Chamberlain who, although born in England, migrated to Germany, became a subject of the Kaiser, became the son-in-law and biographer of Richard Wagner, and achieved success in Germany with many books which he wrote in German.  The linguistic leap made by Chamberlain was less remarkable than that of Korzeniowski because English is one of the Germanic languages.  Not only has English many cognates in common with German, but both languages have borrowed thousands of words from Greek and Latin.

Probably the best-known work of Chamberlain was his Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, translated into English as Foundations of the Nineteenth Century.   In explicating those foundations, Chamberlain was explaining how the modern world came into being.  It is still worthy of being read and pondered over.

Die Grundlagen has achieved much fame in the English-speaking world because of its most notorious reader.  However, this work was highly praised by Theodore Roosevelt and by George Bernard Shaw when it was published in English translation.  (As an aside, it will be noted that L. Sprague de Camp, in his biography of Lovecraft, concludes that Lovecraft was very much influenced in his thinking by Chamberlain's Foundations.) 

Some very enterprising individual has set up a Website dedicated to Chamberlain:  It is a worthy achievement for its bibliography.  The compiler of this Website has read in depth the works by and about his subject.  I am just beginning to become acquainted with this Website and noted upon my first encounter with it that Chamberlain chose to have engraved on his gravestone the  following words of Luke 17:21: „Das Reich Gottes ist inwendig in euch“

The compiler of the Website believes that Chamberlain chose these words from the New Testament as the epitome of his thought regarding religion.  He does not note which German translation Chamberlain used.  In Luther's translation the same verse is rendered as "das Reich Gottes ist mitten unter euch."

Luther chose a seemingly different preposition.  Luther seems to render it as the kingdom of God being among us, while the words on Chamberlain's gravestone suggest that it is within us. 

Verses 20 and 21 of the 17th chapter of Luke are rendered in the King James Version as follows:

"  And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:  Neither shall they say Lo here! or lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. "

C. I, Scofield, in a footnote to his edition of the Bible, observes that " It could not be said of a self-righteous, Christ-rejecting Pharisee, that the kingdom of God, as to its spiritual content, was within him. "   Scofield goes on to fit this into his dispensational reading of the Bible.  Scofield's footnote states that the Greek word entos means "in the midst."   The latter translation seems to fit Luther's "mitten unter euch."

The New International Version of the Bible renders Luke 17:20-21 as follows:

" Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ' The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ' Here it is,' or ' There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you. "

To this, the NIV translation adds the footnote "Or among" as an alternative to "within."   Cassell's German dictionary translates "inwendig" as "within" or "interior to." 

In the meanwhile, this new Website is worthy of a  visit:

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