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Encounter with Grunewald.

Why I took my family to Colmar in 1958 to see the Isenheim altarpiece I no longer remember. I may have heard of it in conversations with old school friends who had read Karl Barth's discussion of the piece in his Dogmatics and thus imagined that a visit to Colmar was needed to establish theological sophistication. A few years later, I hitchhiked alone to Colmar, deciding that the first trip had been too cursory, something like a tour group's tearing through the Louvre. Thirty years after the first visit, I took my family to Colmar once more but achieved no further sophistication. I am not proud of the fact that my taste in the visual arts is Philistine and must confess that my preoccupation with the Isenheim retable, and especially with what is exposed when its wings are closed, is more of a reflex from a reading of the Bible and its interpreters. The thing hangs above my bed--like the scriptures more of a challenge or even a judgment than of something known or understood.


The Isenheim Altarpiece or retable is a polyptich composed of nine panels mounted on two sets of folding wings. The outer set consists of the Crucifixion with the Entombment below it and is flanked by St. Anthony and St. Sebastian. The inner set displays the Annunciation, the concert of Angels, the Nativity, and the Resurrection. The innermost panels, flanking a carved wooden shrine to St. Anthony, are St. Anthony and St. Paul in the Wilderness and the Temptation of St. Anthony. All three central panels are split in the middle to facilitate the changing of scenes. The entire piece is supported by a predella on the altar, which raises the retable from the altar table. When closed the altarpiece is nearly nine feet high by sixteen feet wide. The total painted surface of all the panels is over fifty feet in width, plus the predella which is two feet high by eleven feet wide. The order in which the artist painted the various panels has long been a matter of speculation.

My preoccupation is with the central panel, in the patois of the art historian, "Grunewald's Crucifixion." At its center is a gigantic Christ, nailed to a cross set on a river bank, the transverse branch of the cross bent into the shape of a bow. The body, swollen and blotched with wounds, is drained of blood, and scattered thorns stick in the flesh encrusted with blood and pus. At the ends of unnaturally long arms the hands are stiffened in a cramp, the shoulders are dislocated, while the knees are turned in, and the feet--one nailed on top of the other--are a heap of muscles beneath rotting flesh and blue toenails. The head sags on the bulging chest, the jaw is slack, and the mouth and eyes are half open. At the foot of the cross John the Evangelist supports the fainting Virgin Mary dressed in a Cistercian nun's habit of pure white, while Mary Magdalene, kneeling, voices lament. On the right stands the Baptist, just below life size, bearded, with a shock of hair cut straight across his forehead, his arms, legs, and feet bare. In one hand he holds an open book and with an prodigious index finger points to the victim with words in red Roman majuscules against the night sky that read illum oportet crescere me autem minui: "he must increase, but I must decrease." At the feet of the Crucified a lamb bears a cross, a stream of blood pouring into a chalice from its wounded breast. Beyond the gibbet flows a stream of water. (1) Thus, "from a heraldic point of view," as one analyst puts it, we have Christ in the center, the Baptist on the right, and the Madonna on the left, the figures positioned in such fashion that the group around the Virgin is viewed slightly from above, Christ from below, and the Baptist straight on. (2) Finally, to the left of the split in the crucifixion panel the head of the Crucified is turned toward the Virgin, but to the right of it the entire body except for the right arm is on John's side.


The artist and the painting's locales

The polyptich is the work of Matthias Grunewald, a name discovered in the 1920s to have been fabricated by his first biographer, Joachim von Sandrart (1606-1688), but now hallowed with age. His actual name was Matthias, Mathias, or Mathis Gothardt, often trailed by his wife's surname, Niethart. What is purportedly known of Grunewald is a mixture of data and speculation. Presumably, he was born at Wurzburg, perhaps in 1460, 1470, 1475, or 1480. The first reliable clue to his whereabouts appears in documents naming him as owner of a workshop in Seligenstadt on Main from 1501 to 1521. By 1509 he had become court painter to the Archbishop of Mainz, and two years later he was retained by the cleric's successor, Albrecht of Brandenburg. Together with Albrecht's retinue he appeared at the 1520 coronation of Charles the Fifth (1500-1558) in Aachen. One historian writes that on this occasion Grunewald first met Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) who presented him with a few of his works in black and white, (3) while another refers to his collaborating with Durer on a Frankfurt altar twelve or thirteen years prior. (4) Still others interpret the collaboration as merely adding to what had been done earlier by Durer, whom, presumably, he had never met. (5) According to one biographer, he is reported to have grown full of disgust at the excesses of the higher officers of state but was nevertheless unable to put his art at the service of the Reformation, despite acquaintance with some of its classic representatives, among them Durer and Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560). (6) According to another, it was because of his sympathy with the Peasants' Revolt of 1525 that he voluntarily left Albrecht's service and settled in Frankfurt and Halle, cities sympathetic to the Protestant cause. (7) According to still another, because of his Protestant sympathies he was dismissed from his post, moved to Frankfurt, and, convinced that his life was in danger, fled to Halle. (8) Dying at Halle of the plague near the end of August, 1528, Grunewald left behind a rosary scented with musk, Luther's September or December Testament of 1522, and the Reformer's Wittenberg Invocavit Sermons delivered March 9-16, 1522. As early as in 1597, when Emperor Rudolf II (1552-1612) tried to buy the Isenheim Altarpiece, the name of its creator had already been forgotten. For years, Grunewald's work had been assigned to Durer. Not until the expressionist revolt against rationalism and naturalism did the greatest of Durer's contemporaries begin to arouse widespread interest.

As for the altarpiece or retable itself, it was originally set on the great altar in the choir of a monastery church at Isenheim in Alsace, on the great trade route from the Rhine to the Mediterranean. The abbey belonged to the Antonite Order and was the largest of its kind north of the Alps. The church had already stood for a century and its altar for almost half that period before Grunewald arrived to paint its panels, commissioned by the abbot or preceptor, Guido Gersi, and completed between 1508 and 1516. (9) The primary goal of the monastery was to care for those afflicted with the "burning sickness," often called "St. Anthony's fire" (erysipelas) after the name of the abbey's patron. When this disease dissipated, other afflictions including the venereal diseases devastating Europe since 1490 were taken up into the abbey's sphere of healing. For years the monastery functioned as a lazar-house.

Except for a brief exhibition at the Munich Pinakotech following the First World War, where it "calmed and comforted the "deeply distressed and exhausted German national soul," (10) the piece has been housed in the Musee d'Unterlinden in Colmar, Alsace. The commissioners of the French Republic decided that the painting should be transferred to Colmar after the revolutionary government had closed the convent down in 1793. Since the French revolution the retable has existed in this dismantled state, a cultural-political bullwerk against transnational claims during two world wars, in the words of a recent study by Andree Hayum of Fordham University, its organic existence "forever ruptured," an index of the altered potency of these objects in the contemporary world. (11) It was at Munich, for example, that Thomas Mann (1875-1955) first saw the Isenheim painting and at Colmar that Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) spent an entire day looking at the Grunewald panels. (12) On his second visit to Colmar, Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) was "every bit as receptive (empfanglich) as two decades earlier."

The commentators

For centuries Grunewald's work escaped notice until Heinrich Alfred Schmid, pupil of the cultural historian Jacob Burckhardt (1818-1897), produced a text about the artist and his Crucifixion in 1911. The text marked a radical shift in the cultural climate. At last count, the "Web Museum" of Paris contains more than 3,192 references to Grunewald and more than 878 to the Isenheim Altarpiece. In addition to the critics already named, I will restrict myself to the comments of those known to me, arranging them into two groups, the first consisting of artists, visual or otherwise, and the second of those occupied with matters of faith or reflection.

Turning to the first group, the celebrated critic J.-K. Huysmans (Charles Marie Georges Huysmans, 1848-1907), French novelist and champion of naturalism, the symbolist movement, and impressionism, refers to the "Man-God of Colmar" as nothing but a common thief who met his end on the gallows and of the Baptist as a "tough old soldier from Franconia." Of the art historians consulted, Huysmans was first to note the dialectic in Grunewald's portrayal of the relation between Christ and the Baptist: "He who decreased to make way for the Messiah, who in turn died to ensure the predominance of the Word in the world, is alive here, while He who was alive when he was defunct, is dead." (13) As to the reason for the lasting attraction of the altarpiece and the undying regard for it, Schmitt hypothesizes that the Book of Prophecies of St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373) served Grunewald as a rich source of inspiration. (14)

The American art historian Arthur Burkhard states that the Isenheim altar clearly establishes Grunewald's claim to rank with Durer and Hans Holbein (the Younger, 1497?-1543), that because nothing of Durer or Holbein is so overpowering, Grunewald's work may be pronounced a masterpiece of German art, taking its place in the history of Northern painting between the Flemish primitives of the fifteenth century as represented by the Ghent Altar of the Van Eycks, and Dutch painting of the seventeenth century, as represented by Rembrandt's "Night Watch." (15)

In his essays on the problems of aesthetics, Erwin Panofsky (1892-1968), representative of art critics and historians at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, makes brief reference to "the famous Resurrection of Grunewald," (16) and Hayum draws a comparison between Grunewald's career and that of Leonardo in its diversity, combination of art and engineering or technology. Referring to Huysmans' uncovering the crisis of art and science in Grunewald's distortions, Hayum describes the historian's "fixation on the torturous suffering of the body of Christ" as the underside of a century "glutted by an academic ideal of form." (17)

In his "Conversations with Picasso," the Hungarian photographer Brassai (Gyula Halasz, 1899-1984) writes that it was Grunewald who for the first time "triggered" the Spanish painter's creative impulse. Where once Picasso (1881-1973) had been under the influence of Lautrec, Cezanne, Poussin, or Velasquez, becoming a bit of one or the other, from now on Lautrec and all the others "became Picasso." To this impulse from the Crucifixion Brassai attributes Picasso's extremes, "his amorously irreverent pastiches, his verve, his humor, his cruelty," all of it "the magnifying glass disclosing the 'style beneath the brush.'" (18)

In a brief note to his publisher before boarding a train in September 1909, Rainer Maria Rilke states that only so much is left him to write since he has spent the entire day in the Unterlinden-Museum in front of the Grunewald paintings. (19) Thomas Mann records a visit to the Munich Pinakothek in his diary of December 22, 1918, registering the riot of color in the Incarnation panel and the "grotesque misery" of the crucifixion panel. While the one "goes a bit too far," the other "works as a mighty contrast." "On the whole," Mann concludes, "the pictures belong to the most forceful ever to come to my eyes." (20) A decade or so later, the German composer Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) produced an opera based on Grunewald's life which he entitled "Mathis der Maler." A symphony culled from the opera's themes has become one of Hindemith's best known orchestral works. Following his last visit to Colmar, Zweig wrote that "confronted with the most excellent reproductions we may have tried a hundred, a thousand times to approach the single mystery of these lucent demonic tablets: only here, in face of this shattering reality do we feel totally under its spell and realize we have actually seen one of the artistic wonders of our earthly world." (21)

Turning to the second group, Philip Melanchthon may have been the first to give Grunewald attention. In his Elementorum rethorices libri duo of 1531, he ranks Grunewald with Durer and Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553): "In paintings," Melanchthon writes, "these differences can easily be detected. Durer, in fact, painted everything grander and varied with the greatest number of lines. The paintings of Lucas are simple though pleasing, but comparison shows how greatly they differ from Durer's works. Matthias, as it were, kept to a moderate course." (22)

Barth (1886-1968) referred to the Isenheim Altarpiece a score of times. A reproduction of it stood next to or above his desk for years. Notes from his confirmation instruction at his parish in Safenwil in 1918-1919 assign the retable a prophetic role. The crucified Christ is a reminder of death "with all its horrors and mysteries," while the group on the left reflects "humanity in face of its fate," the hand-wringing Magdalene on the right "the weakness of our good will," and the hand of the Baptist "judgment and grace." (23) One year later, Barth writes of this hand "pointing in almost impossible fashion." (24) In his 1922 edition of Der Romerbrief Barth lists Grunewald with Abraham, Jeremiah, Socrates, Luther, Kierkegaard, and Dostoievski as not merely historically distanced from but rather comprehended in, and not merely absorbed by but rather established in, Jesus the Christ; refers to Abraham's faith as appearing "in total invisibility on the margin of the Genesis story ... just as it has appeared on the margin of the art of Grunewald," and traces the direction of the Baptist's hand from the "deepest horror of death" to "the promise of radical redemption." (25) In his lectures on Calvin Barth refers to Grunewald's "Crucified One" as announcing the opus alienum Dei, in contrast to the one who as "martyr or hero may perhaps arouse our wonder, may perhaps be imitated in his calm surrender to the will of God, and whom we perhaps may paint and experience in his tragic beauty." (26) In his lectures on Schleiermacher Barth summons his hearers to forget Grunewald, the Middle Ages, and the Reformation in order to understand the Berliner or in any event to allow him to speak. (27)

Three times in the Dogmatics Barth recalls the Baptist's function as pointing to the Christ and in a fourth distances John from any others presuming to point directly to the Word of God: "If we presumed to point directly to it, that is, as intending to appear, say, in the attitude of Grunewald's John as witness to this event, then we would be assuming what none should assume: that we have its reality at our backs, as it were, that we originate with it, and by appeal to it are able to refute others." (28)

In his volume on art and architecture, Paul Tillich (1886-1965) refers to the Isenheim Altarpiece "as the greatest German picture ever painted." He describes the Altarpiece as Protestant in spirit and great art, and as evidence that expressionism is scarcely a modern invention. According to Tillich Grunewald's Crucifixion illustrates a "double symbolization," that is, the attempt on the part of artistic symbols to express traditional religious symbols in ever changing styles. He adds that the Grunewald would understandably be censured by authorities of the Eastern church, a church of the resurrection, not of the crucifixion. In a comparison of Grunewald's painting with The Crucifixion of the English artist Graham Sutherland (1903-1980), executed in 1946 for Saint Matthew's Church in Northampton, England, Tillich notes forms similar to Grunewald's, "but with all the elements of disrupted style which modern art has created." Then he asks whether or not it is possible to use the elements of expressionist visual art in dealing with the traditional symbols of Christianity. "Sometimes," he answers, "I am willing to say that it is possible. Sometimes I am not willing to say so." (29)

Finally, in a letter to a friend dated November, 1913, Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), German critic-philosopher and member of the Frankfurt School, records his impression of a small Grunewald Crucifixion panel in the Basel Museum: "Finally, the greatest among the paintings there, Grunewald's Christ on the cross, which this time even more strongly affected me than the year before." (30) More to the point, Benjamin's long-time friend and editor Gershom Scholem writes that a copy of Grunewald's Isenheim retable had hung on the wall of his friend's study for years, that while a student in 1913 Benjamin had made a special trip to Colmar to see the original, and that notes from Benjamin's early years make frequent reference to the Isenheim panels. (31)

The "Detour"

A significant number, even among those whose profession requires coming to grips with the artist's subject head-on, tend to detour around "that awful Christ."

In a sort of aesthetic variation on the finitum non capax infiniti, some register revulsion at Grunewald's figures. One critic refers to the Crucifixion as a terrible example of the "paranoid sadism" evident in the work of "slow extravert artists," (32) another to the artist's "obsession with gratuitous details," (33) still another to his demonstrating the "abysmal questionableness of the human body as the frame of the Word that was made flesh." (34) Even Grunewald's landscape detail is described as "devoid of all trace of reality." (35)

Such comments may derive from failing to visualize the link between the Victim of Isenheim and his miserable petitioners. As Huysmans writes, "that awful Christ who hung dying over the altar of the Isenheim hospital would seem to have been made in the image of the ergotics who prayed to him; they must surely have found consolation in the thought that this God they invoked had suffered the same torments as themselves, and had become flesh in a form as repulsive as their own; and they must have felt less forsaken, less contemptible." (36) And Schmitt states that the great altar in the choir of the convent church "spread its wings like a compassionate mother opening her arms to the stricken multitude; for lepers and victims of the plague pressed toward its steps bewailing their misery and hoping against hope for a miraculous recovery.... Face to face with Christ crucified, hanging in dreadful isolation on the cross of shame, the ailing could forget their own sufferings." (37) Tillich insists that the Crucifixion is not a naturalistic copy or distortion but "an artistic expression of the truth about what has happened on Golgotha." (38) As for landscapes "devoid of all reality," Huysmans concedes that, although they may strike many as invented to create effect, they are in fact strictly accurate. "Grunewald did much of his painting in Thuringia," he says, "where the earth, saturated with iron oxide, is red; I myself have seen it sodden with rain and looking like the mud of a slaughter-house, a swamp of blood." (39)


Pablo Picasso asked Brassai, "Do you know the Crucifixion of Mathias Grunewald, the central panel of the altar of Isenheim? I love this painting and I have tried to interpret it," then added, "but I have scarcely begun to draw it, when something entirely different results." (40) Perhaps the suite of pen-and-ink drawings done in 1932 can stand in evidence of Picasso's repair and renovation of Isenheim. (41)

Detour or no, nothing came of Rilke's day-long visit to Colmar or his intention to produce an essay on the Isenheim altarpiece, but in Hindemith's Mathis der Maler, a successful painter in the hands of an ecclesiastical patron until he rejects his alienated role to participate in the peasant wars (from which events the flesh-and-blood Grune-wald may actually have distanced himself, who knows?) the Isenheim retable serves only as means to an end. There is no way of knowing whether or not Hitler would have blocked Wilhelm Furtwangler's performance of the opera in the Berlin symphony's 1934 season if it had assumed another shape--had given attention, say, to that first central panel. (42)

Zweig's visit to Colmar combined with his visit to Albert Schweitzer on the same day. He was moved to note the "sublime contrast with perfection on either side." "There," he writes, "a music frozen in stone, become crystal, a devotion pointing to heaven, and here in these flaming colors the overwhelming ardor of ecstasy, the coloration become fanatical, the apocalyptic vision of decline and resurrection." (43) As far as I can tell, Zweig had set the Crucifixion in the service of a dialectic, thus relieving it of its solitariness. And, as far as I can tell, with his contrast between the "Madonna scene's festival of color" and the "grotesque misery of the crucifixion," Thomas Mann had done the same.

Melanchthon's comment is leagues from the Crucifixion. First, his concern with Grunewald is purely formal. His reference to him along with Durer and Cranach is solely to indicate painting styles as analogous to rhetorical terms. For this reason he may be forgiven for omitting reference to Grunewald's greatest piece, of which he had to be aware. But when he relegates the painter to a "more moderate" position between Durer and Cranach, (44) he misses what until then was unheard of in the history of European art--the expression which Grunewald gives to his figures.

For Barth, the Altarpiece often calls the figure of the Baptist to mind, first as pointing away from himself, then as doing nothing more, and finally in doing so as occupying a position none can repeat ("if we presumed to point directly to it ... say, in the attitude of Grunewald's John ... then we would be assuming what none should assume" (45)). When Barth does turn his eye to the victim, he is reminded of "death with all its horrors and mysteries." (46) In a surprising reversal of the traditional nomenclature, he refers to Grunewald's Crucified as announcing "the alien work of God" (the opus alienum Dei)." (47) Or, as in the Kirchliche Dogmatik, he sees "a miserably crucified dead man," where "every indication of the revelation of the Godhead is lacking." (48) These remarks do not reflect a revolutionary stage in which "the early Barth" fixed a gulf between human reflection about God and the Word of God. They appear in his earliest and latest reflections on the Grunewald retable. Still, absent of any hint of revelation, Barth is able to follow the Baptist's prodigious finger to a promise of eternal life, or again, in the forsakenness of the one who announces God's alien work he hears the "irrefutably compelling" summons to a saving desperation, to a humility, and fear of God. (49) A Barthian scholar can no doubt explain what strikes me as contradiction. And a Tillich scholar can no doubt explain his preoccupation with matters of style, with Grunewald as illustrating "double symbolization," and the question as to its possibility. A theologian does not an artist or an art-historian make and cannot be called to time for an occasional lapse in interpretation. But if he persists? In one instance, at least, Barth clearly misread. At the foot of the Magdalene, he saw a jar of oil, prophetic of "the weakness of all our good," (50) not the ciborium as Grunewald intended, and as more than one generation occupied with the Crucifixion's ecclesiastical and liturgical allusions has seen. No matter, Barth's slip is more than balanced by the art historians' perpetuation of a fact not in evidence: the influence of St. Bridget of Sweden on Grunewald's work. Stimulus could just as well have come from the Roman Missal and Breviary. (51)

It may be that only someone who served as stand-in for those medieval victims lurching toward the altar and seeing themselves in that rotting Christ could look at him without jabbering, being diverted by questions of style, absorbing him in dialectic or contrast, to say nothing of reconstituting him, doing him over. Apart from a few whose business it is to see the thing head-on, only the Jew, Walter Benjamin, is left. When Scholem wrote that for years Grunewald's altarpiece hung on the wall of Benjamin's study, he added that his friend was overwhelmed by its Ausdruckslose quality, its "expressionlessness" (52)--not a thing without expression, but a thing unable to be expressed, beyond telling or uttering, out of reach of words. If Adorno thought Benjamin first used this term in an essay on Goethe, he had it wrong. (53)

"Das Ausdruckslose" suits me, perhaps because of my infection from that old German hymn, "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden," and its mistranslated third verse: "What language shall I borrow?" And Barth may have tumbled to it after all: "Here is where Christology has its place. It stands over against, not in the mystery. It can and it should pray with Mary and point with the Baptist. It can and should do no more than that, but it can and should do that." (54)

1. I have stolen much of this description from J.-K. Huysmans and Pierre Schmitt, whose observations were more precise than mine; cf. Huysmans' Grunewald, The Paintings, Complete Edition with Two Essays by J.-K. Huysmans and a Catalogue by E. Ruhmer (London: The Phaidon Press, 1958), 10-25, and Schmitt's The Isenheim Altar (Berne: Hallweg Ltd., 1960), 7-9.

2. Cf. Andree Hayum, God's Medicine and the Painter's Vision (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 74.

3. Schmitt, The Isenheim Altar, 4.

4. Reiner Marquard, "Grunewald, Matthias," Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Mohr: Siebeck, 2000), III:1315.

5. Emil Kren and Daniel Marx, "Grunewald, Matthias," The Web Gallery of Art (

6. Marquard, "Grunewald," 1316.

7. Cf. Kren and Marx, "Grunewald, Matthias."

8. Cf. Ian Chilvers, "Mathis Grunewald," The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990, 1996), 3, and "Matthias," Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2001, 1.

9. Hayum, God's Medicine, 16; according to Marquard, the painting was done between 1512 and 1515, and according to Stephen Kayser, in 1512/1513; cf. Kayser, "Grunewald's Christianity," Review of Religion V (1940), 1:22.

10. W. Rugamer, "Der Isenheimer Altar Matthias Grunewalds im Lichte der Liturgie und der kirchlichen Reformbewegung," Theologische Quartalschrift cxx (1939), 380.

11. Hayum, God's Medicine, 8.

12. Rainer Maria Rilke, Briefe an seinen Verleger 1906 bis 1926 (Insel Verlag, 1949), I:79.

13. Huysmans, Grunewald, The Paintings, 11-12.

14. Schmitt, The Isenheim Altar, 5; cf. also Praeger Encyclopedia of Art (New York: Praeger, 1971), III:873; Kren and Marx, "Grunewald, Matthias"; Helen de Borchgrave, A Journey into Christian Art (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000), 96; "Grunewald, Matthias," Microsoft Encarta Encylopedia 2001.

15. Arthur Burkhard, Matthias Grunewald, Personality and Accomplishment (New York: Hacker Art Books, 1976), 42.

16. Erwin Panofsky, "Zum Problem der Beschreibung und Inhaltsdeutung von Werken der bildenden Kunst," Aufsatze zu Grundfragen der Kunstwissenschaft (Berlin: V. Spiess, 1980), 86.

17. Hayum, God's Medicine, 132-33.

18. Brassai, Conversations avec Picasso (NRF: Gallinard, 1964), 36.

19. Rilke, Briefe an seinen Verleger, 79.

20. Thomas Mann, Tagebucher 1918-1921, hrsg. Peter de Mendelssohn (Frankfurt a. M: S. Fischer, 1979), 113.

21. Stefan Zweig, Begegnungen mit Menschen Buchern Stadten (Berlin: S. Fischer Verlag, 1955), 113.

22. Philip Melanchthon, "De tribus generibus dicendi, Elementorum rethorices libri duo, Corpus Reformatorum, ed. C. G. Bretschneider (Halis Saxonum: apud C. A. Schwetschke et filium, 1846), 504.

23. Karl Barth, Konfirmandenunterricht 1909-1921, Karl Barth Gesamtausgabe, I. Predigten (Zurich: Theologischer Verlag, 1987), 277.

24. Barth, Biblische Fragen, Einsichten und Ausblicke (Vortrag am 17.4. 1920).

25. Barth, Der Romerbrief (Munchen: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1929, 5th printing of the 1922 edition), 93, 118, 135.

26. Barth, Die Theologie Calvins 1922, Karl Barth Gesamtausgabe, II. Akademische Werke, hrsg. Hans Scholl (Zurich: Theologischer Verlag, 1993), 82.

27. Barth, Die Theologie Schleiermachers 1923/1924, Karl Barth Gesamtausgabe II. Akademische Werke, hrsg. Dietrich Ritschl (1978), 146-47.

28. Barth, "Das offenbarte Wort Gottes," Die Lehre vom Wort Gottes, Prolegomena zur kirchlichen Dogmatik, Karl Barth Gesamtausgabe I/1 (Evangelischer Verlag: A. G. Zollikon-Zurich, 1947 (1932), 126; "Das Problem der Dogmatik," in Ibid., 277; "Das Problem der Christologie," Die Kirchliche Dogmatik, Die Lehre vom Wort Gottes, Prolegomena zur kirchlichen Dogmatik, Karl Barth Gesamtausgasbe I/2 (Evangelischer Verlag A.G. Zollikon-Zurich, 1948), 4 137-38; "Gottes Botschafter und ihre Widersacher," Die Kirchliche Dogmatik, Die Lehre von der Schopfung, Karl Barth Gesamtausgabe III/3 (Evangelischer Verlag A.G. Zollikon-Zurich, 1950), 577.

29. Paul Tillich, On Art and Architecture, ed. John Dillenberger (New York: Crossroad, 1989), 99, 161.

30. Walter Benjamin, Briefe, hrsg. Gershom Scholem und Theodor W. Adorno, I (1910-1918) (Frankfurt a. Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1966), 77.

31. Gershom Scholem, The Story of a Friendship, trans. Harry Zohn (Phildelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1981), 37.

32. Joan Evans, Taste and Temperament (London, 1939), 96, quoted in Stephen Kayser, "Grunewald's Christianity," Review of Religion V, 1 (1940), pp. 5-6, n. 10.

33. de Borchgrave, A Journey into Christian Art, 197.

34. Kayser, "Grunewald's Christianity," 6.

35. Burkhard, Matthias Grunewald, Personality and Accomplishment, 28.

36. Huysmans, Grunewald, The Paintings, 25.

37. Schmitt, The Isenheim Altar, 5-6.

38. Tillich, On Art and Architecture, 22.

39. Huysmans, Grunewald, 22.

40. Brassai, Conversations avec Picasso, 36.

41. Hayum, God's Medicine, 141-43.

42. Cf. Hayum, 140, 146.

43. Zweig, Begegnungen mit Menschen Buchern Stadten, 113.

44. Matthias quasi mediocritatem servabat: "Matthias, as it were, kept to a more moderate (or, according to the noun's second sense, "mediocre") course."

45. Barth, "The Problem of Dogmatics," 301.

46. Barth, Konfirmandenunterricht 1909-1921, 294.

47. Barth, Die Theologie Calvins 1922, 82.

48. Barth, "Das Problem der Christologie," 138.

49. Barth, Die Theologie Calvins, 82.

50. Barth, Konfirmandenunterricht 1909-1921, 294.

51. Cf. Rugamer, "Der Isenheimer Altar," 373, 375.

52. Scholem, The Story of a Friendship, 37; cf. also Bernd Witte, Walter Benjamin--Der Intellektuelle als Kritiker (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1976), 202.

53. Theodor W. Adorno Alban Berg Briefwehsel 1925-1935, Theodor W. Adorno Briefe und Briefwechsel, hrsg. Theodor W. Adorno Archiv (Surkamp, 1997), II:54.

54. Barth, "Das Problem des Christologie," 138; emphasis added.

Roy A. Harrisville

Professor of New Testament (retired)

Luther Theological Seminary

St. Paul, Minnesota
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Author:Harrisville, Roy A.
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Date:Feb 1, 2004
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