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Discover the Mainz Method and unlock your ability to translate theological German texts with the pivotal textbook by 


The Handbook of Reading Theological German is the premier resource for equipping those interested in reading and translating original German source materials and preparing academics for German comprehension examination. The book is ideal for students in biblical studies, church history, Jewish studies, and theology.

Coauthored by Katharina Hirt, a native German speaker and professional linguist, and Christopher Ryan Jones, a native English speaker and doctoral candidate in biblical studies, this collaboration draws on the latest developments in linguistics to present a cutting-edge teaching methodology for graduate students learning to read German for research.

Attuned to the specific needs of English speakers learning German, this handbook is well suited for independent study or for use in the classroom. Providing abundant exercises and readings, Jones and Hirt’s work provides an excellent entry point for students required to learn theological German.

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An introduction to German grammar

Further, advanced readings with minimal guidance from contemporary authors in the areas of Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Jewish studies, church history, and theology, so that students can focus on literature from their chosen field of study

A demonstration of the role that German theology has had in the development of modern Jewish and Christian practices.

Guided readings and biographies of six major German theologians and philosophers

Chapter 1

Normally when the concept of theology is considered, the mind equates it with the theological perspectives held by members of particular religious communities, where by it is possible to compare and contrast the theological ideologies of one particular faith group to those held by a different religious tradition. That is to say, it is possible to analyze the differences between sects within a religion, such as comparing Protestant and Catholic theology, or examining the theological differences between two different religions, such as Judaism and Christianity. In each of these instances, theology is always thought of in terms of its association with religion.

There are but a few examples of theology becoming linked to a nation. Israel, of course, would be the prime example, since the entire development of the nation is connected to a theological concept. Some may argue that the United States should be considred, as well, since its founding was based upon theological freedom. However, people do not speak in terms of “Israeli theology” or “American theology”; however, the term “German theology” is used. What thenis German theology, and what is its sifnificance? Whithin this chapter we will attempt to introduce the concept of German theology, its importance, and its influence both past and present. The term “German theology” does not speak to a concise set of beliefs or practices; instead it speaks to the massive impact Germany and its scholars have had on the development of theology worldwide. Regardless of your religious tradition or theological positionm the influence that German scholars have had throughout the centuries within the theological sphere is irrefutable. 


John J. Collins
Holmes Professor of Old Testament
Yale University

‘The summer course in theological German at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz is internationally famous, and unique in kind. This book is specifically designed for that course. It provides basic German grammar and an extensive reader of German theological texts, from Martin Luther to Ruben Zimmermann. It is a wonderful resource not only for students who take the summer course but for theological students all the world over.’

Darrell L. Bock
Executive Director for Cultural Engagement
Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies
Dallas Theological Seminary

'Oh how I would have loved to have had a book like Handbook of Reading Theological German as I pursued a PhD and prepared to interact primarily with a German theologian on the Use of the OT in the New in Luke-Acts. Rather than trying to self teach myself German, I could have sat at the feet of clear instructors who also offered me samples of the array of texts I would encounter. It would have been a God sent gift. So to anyone struggling to learn German, this book is for you.'

Paul Foster
Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity
School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh.

'German remains one of the key languages of theological research and many of the seminal texts of Christianity have been written in German. In this carefully constructed volume Jones and Hirt guide students through the task of reading theological German. Not only do they provide helpful tips on German theology and its grammar, they also lead students through key texts to deepen understanding and expertise in reading theological German. This is a rich and invaluable tool that is highly recommended to all students of theology.’

Talia Sutskover
Department of Biblical Studies, Chair
Tel Aviv University

'Generally, when an acquired language is not used, it is eventually and gradually forgotten. The Handbook is an excellent vehicle for students and scholars of German theology and related areas who wish to either enhance their German reading skills or reawaken them. It offers a clear and easy-to-follow reading approach. The authors of this volume wisely touch upon the essentials of German grammar and syntax, and provide helpful paradigms of verb conjugations, adjective endings, article declensions, etc. The German texts offered as a corpus for practicing the Jones-Hirt translation method are authored by a carefully selected and diverse list of German theologians. Hence, while improving your German translation abilities, you just might find yourself adding bibliographic items for your next article.’

Ed Hindson
Dean Emeritus & Distinguished Professor of Religion
School of Divinity, Liberty University

'Handbook of Reading Theological German is an excellent source for graduate and post-graduate students to learn the nuances of theological German. I highly recommend it!'

Benjamin D. Sommer
Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages, Jewish Theological Seminary
Senior Fellow, Kogod Center for Contemporary Jewish Thought of the Shalom Hartman Institute

'A wonderful book for students learning how to read scholarly articles and books in German. The pedagogy that Jones and Hirt employ is thoughtful, practical, and accessible. They provide a user-friendly approach for working through the often complex sentences found in German-language scholarship. They also provide helpful (and often quite interesting) background for the selections in the book. While geared especially to people studying religion and theology, this book will be useful for any scholar in the humanities who needs to develop a reading knowledge of German.,'

Mark Elliot
Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism
School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow

'Road-tested with the highly successful Mainz summer school for German Language and Theology, this book now takes the reader gently by the hand to consider the salient points of written academic theological German, with a wide confessional sweep and helpfully annotated texts. It integrates an appreciation of the key outlines of German religious history and culture, German thought as well as the word-forms. This is done not just to sweeten the grammatical pill but also to help students to fall in love with the language and culture. I have seen students benefit from this and I look forward to using it in place of Ziefle’s Theological German of 1986.,'

L. Gregory Jones
Dean and Williams Distinguished Professor
Duke Divinity School

'All theological students know about the massive influence of German scholarship on modern theology. What too few of them do is learn German well enough to read the sources of this influence. Jones and Hirt have provided a timely help to that task, as well as well-chosen passages that reinforce both the grammatical lessons learned and the substance of theological debate. Moreover, they provide translations of the passages from the various authors so that the students can check their work and, as important, easy-to-use appendices on critical topics students will often need to consult. All in all, a wonderful resource.'

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