1 See Edwards’ biography on Lohmeyer for a fuller account: J.R. Edwards, Between Swastika and the Sickle: The Life, Disappearance, and Execution of Ernst Lohmeyer (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2019).
2 See, in general: R. Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Essays on the New Testament’s Christology (Milton Keynes: Authentic Publishers, 2013).
3 R. Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1989), chap. 4.
4 Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, 75. Terms that bespeak the ironist’s rootlessness include ‘“Weltanschauung,” “perspective,” “dialectic,” “conceptual framework,” “historical epoch,” “language game,” “redescription,” “vocabulary,” and “irony.”
5 “Keiner stirbt für bloße Werte”: M. Heidegger, “Die Zeit des Weltbildes”, in Holzwege, Gesamtaufgabe Bd 5 (Frankfurt Am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1977), 102. According to one scholar, Heidegger critiques the Nietzschean idea conveyed in Thus Spoke Zarathustra that we posit values, “that is, that valuing is something we do and value is the result of doing it.” Posited values can be just as quickly “unposited”, or in Rorty’s words, redescribed. Posited values therefore lack authority. The scholar goes on in this way: “So, far from giving meaning to our lives, thinking of what is important to us in terms of values shows us that our lives have no intrinsic meaning.” “Shared concerns”, on the other hand, garner our commitment. H.L. Dreyfus, “Heidegger on the Connection between Nihilism, Technology, Art, and Politics”, in H.L. Dreyfus and M.A. Wrathall (eds), Background Practices: Essays on the Understanding of Being (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 177.
6 Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, 87, 86.
7 Ibid., 80.
8 B. Frazier, Rorty and Kierkegaard on Irony and Moral Commitment: Philosophical and Theological Connections (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 16f.
9 Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, 86.
10 Ibid., 92-3, 86.
11 Ibid., 84,
12 In fact, Rorty’s commitment to liberalism is not founded on any positive value but only on “a commitment to avoid cruelty ‘as the worst thing we do’”: Frazier, Rorty and Kierkegaard on Irony and Moral Commitment, 34. “The worst thing [liberals] do”: Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, 74, 85.
13 The seriousness talked of here does not exclude joy, and nor does it exclude the “holy fool”. On the latter, see: H. Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics, volume 5, The Realm of Metaphysics in the Modern Age, B. McNeil and J. Riches (eds); O. Davies, A. Louth, B. McNeil, J. Saward, and R. Williams (trans) (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991), 141-204; R. Williams, “Holy Folly and the Problem of Representing Holiness: Some Literary Perspectives”, Journal of Orthodox Christian Studies 1, 1 (2018), 3-15.
14 This is inspired by Katherine Sonderegger’s insights. See, in general: K. Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, Volume I (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2015), 505-530; idem, “Holy Scripture as Sacred Ground”, in O. Crisp and F. Sanders (eds), The Task of Dogmatics: Explorations in Theological Method (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017), 131-143.
15 J. Webster, Domain of the Word (London: Bloomsbury, 2012), viii.
16 As one twentieth-century theologian put it when talking about politics and reality (K. Barth, “Interview von R. Schmalenbach, Deutschschweizer Rundfunk (17.9.1968)”, in E. Busch (ed), Gespräche 1964-1968 (GA IV.28) (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag, 1996), 542):
…“Grace” is only a provisional word. And the last word, that I, as a theologian and finally as a politician, have to say is not a concept [or word] like grace, but a name: Jesus Christ. He is grace, right? And he is the last thing, beyond world and church and even theology. We cannot capture him, but [we] must deal with him.
17 E.g., P.A. Holloway, Philippians: A Commentary (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 2017). Holloway also talks about consolation for Paul, albeit in a different way.
18 E. Lohmeyer, Die Briefe an die Philipper, an die Kolosser und an Philemon (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1964), 27, 28.
19 J.B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians (London: Macmillan, 1885), 85.
20 I take emotion to be a “concern-based construal” (R.C. Roberts, Emotions: An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 64ff). The “concern” here is the integrity of the gospel: its progress and realisation in communities. Where we see (“construe”) the integrity of the gospel, we experience joy, or better, participate in joy.
21 As Bryden Black puts it, Paul exhorts the Philippians to “think alike; love alike; [to] be of one soul; [to] be of one mind”: A.B. Black, The Lion, the Dove, & the Lamb: An Exploration into the Nature of the Christian God as Trinity (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2012), 21.
22 G.F. Hawthorne and R.P. Martin, Philippians (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 26f.
23 Lohmeyer becomes effusive as he comments on the verse in this way (Briefe, 32):
Just as love is the greatest among others [in 1 Cor. 13], love here is the beginning, middle and end of the process, and perception has only to assist. In this, love does not alter but remains unchanging and ever the same. Increase alone is possible and satiety never is; this is love’s “never-becoming-tired” that 1 Cor. 13 attests.
24 Lohmeyer, Briefe, 138-142.
25 Cf. C. O’Regan, Anatomy of Misremembering: Von Balthasar’s Response to Philosophical Modernity, Vol. 1: Hegel (Chestnut Ridge: Crossroad, 2014), 78:
…all believing and knowing is tied to praxis, and it is because this is so that the saint can be thought of as the exemplary instantiation of the specifically Christian form of knowing that is always illustrated in action, in Christian practices and forms of life. The ‘correspondence’ achieved by the saint is not simply intellectual. It is the bestowal of all affect and intellect, all sense and motion, the entire time of the embodied self to Christ and through Christ to the triune community.
26 E. Peterson, Apostel and Zeuge Christi: Auslegung des Philipperbriefes (Freiburg: Herder, 1941).
27 E. Peterson, “Zeuge der Wahrheit”, in Theologische Traktate, B. Nichtweiß (ed) (Würzburg: Echter, 1994) 175, 202.
28 Peterson, “Zeuge der Wahrheit”, 98.
29 They are different not least in that Peterson didn’t recognise martyrdom outside the Catholic Church. Peterson is entirely consistent in this: he didn’t recognise baptism outside the Catholic Church, and given his view of the relation between baptism and martyrdom, martyrs could not exist beyond the Church. Later, Vatican II recognised both baptism and martyrdom outside the Catholic Church. See Barbara Nichtweiß’ discussion: Erik Peterson: Neue Sicht auf Leben und Werk (Freiburg: Herder, 1992), 191-3.
30 The martyr bears no comparison to Rorty’s ironist who courageously “faces up” to her entirely unjustified existence. Rorty’s self-creating ironist is a hero. See, for instance: R. Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, 79f, 97. Cf. Nichtweiß, Erik Peterson, 188.
31 Peterson, Apostel and Zeuge Christi, 26-7. Cf. Nichtweiß, Erik Peterson, 188.
32 J.R. Edwards, “Martyrium: Gesetztes Ziel in Lohmeyers Theologie, erreichtes Ziel in seiner Biographie”, in C. Böttrich (ed.), Ernst Lohmeyer. Beiträge zu Leben und Werk, Greifswalder Theologische Forschungen, Bd 28 (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2018), 147.
33 On this point, Peterson drew on Soren Kierkegaard. Oliver O’Donovan makes a similar point too: “A church too determined to be at home in the world will be unprepared for [the martyrdom exacted by civilisation itself when it lifts its arms against God], and so unprepared for mission” (Desire of the Nations: Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 215).
34 Peterson thought in fact that forgetfulness of the martyrs, or specifically what he took to be the Protestant or Jewish line on martyrs, resulted in “overlooking Christ” (Vorbeisehen an Christus): Apostel and Zeuge Christi, i.
35 M. Weber, “The Profession and Vocation of Politics”, in Political Writings, P. Lassman and R. Speirs (eds) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).
36 Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, 75, 80.
37 Apologeticus, L. 13.
38 O’Donovan, Desire of the Nations, 214.
39 Adorno thought that this “migration” was well and good: “Nothing of theological content will persist without being transformed; every content will have to put itself to the test of migrating into the realm of the secular, the profane” (“Reason and Revelation,” in E. Mendieta (ed.), The Frankfurt School on Religion: Key Writings by the Major Thinkers, trans. H.W. Pickford (New York: Routledge, 2004), 174. My sympathies lie, instead, with Cyril O’Regan, who refers to the migration in terms of “misremembering” (Anatomy of Misremembering), and with William Desmond, who speaks of “counterfeit doubles” (Hegel’s God: A Counterfeit Doubt (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003)).
40 O’Donovan, Desire of the Nations, 214.
41 Ibid., 250.
42 T. Baumeister, Die Anfänge der Theologie des Martyriums (Münster: Aschendorff, 1980), 179. Baumeister talks exclusively of Paul’s life (“…beherrschenden Inhalt seines Lebens”, my emphasis) rather than the community’s life.
43 C. Spicq, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, Vol. 3, trans. J.D. Ernest (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 132.
44 M.F. Bird and N.K. Gupta, Philippians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 59.
45 J.H. Hellerman, Reconstructing Honor in Roman Philippi: Carmen Christi as Cursus Pudorum (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 166.
46 See, for instance, the Catholic Church’s two-volume catalogue of witnesses in twentieth century Germany: H. Moll (ed.), Zeugen fur Christus: Das deutsche Martyrologium des 20. Jahrhunderts (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2019).
47 D.H. Kelsey, Eccentric Existence: A Theological Anthropology (Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, 2009), 170, 217-8.
48 Such common sense is the opposite of Rorty’s liberal irony, for it assumes martyrs help us describe and evaluate our diverse contexts, while Rorty considers our contexts, or final vocabularies, incommensurate and incapable of authoritative judgement, and therefore capable of continual redescription: Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, 74. Rorty’s own notion of “common sense” is also at odds with our outline: ibid., 74f.
49 Nichtweiß, Erik Peterson, 194.
50 Edwards, “Martyrium”, 148-9.
51 “Monuments of unageing intellect”: W.B. Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium”, at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43291/sailing-to-byzantium (accessed 9 August 2023). “Brittle crazy glass”: G. Herbert, “The Windows”, at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/50695/the-windows-56d22df68ff95 (accessed 9 August 2023).
52 Cf. O’Regan, Anatomy of Misremembering, 79: “The saint is an ecclesial person whose aim is to excavate the unrepeatable call or mission that defines them and to which he or she bears witness”. Martyrs, or saints, can make no sense to Rorty, the liberal ironist, on this, as Rorty considers the “point of social organisation” to consist in maximising each individual’s “chance at self-creation” (84).
53 Edwards, Between the Swastika and the Sickle, 275.
54 Ibid., 270-1, 271-2 (trans. Edwards, with some changes).
First Image: “Ernst Lohmeyer” Photographer Unknown
Second Image: By Iulia Mihailov, CC Zero