An Unforgettable Time with Dutch New Testament Scholar Rob van Houwelingen

Posted: June 9, 2012 in General

On 6th June 2012, during my afternoon visit to Theologische Universiteit Kampen (Gereformeerde Kerken), I got an appointment with Hoogleraar of New Testament Prof. Dr. P. H. R (Rob) van Houwelingen. My verbal interaction with him over a cup of Dutch tea went about 45 minutes. Prof. Rob’s interesting areas are: Apostles and Apostolic Period, Gospel of John, and Letters of Peter. As he is a scholar who completed the Doctoral Dissertation under renowned Dutch Textual Critic Prof. Jacob van Bruggen, I was eager to learn new things from him. He didn’t frustrate me. Rob has written and published a good number of articles and books in Dutch language. He is in the process of translating some of them into English in order to invite a wider group of readers toward them. The most important among his writings is the 478 pages commentary on John’s Gospel, entitled Johannes: Het evangelie van het Woord (in the Commentaar op het Nieuwe Testament (CNT) series; Kampen: Uitgeversmaatschappij J. H. Kok, 1999; see the link here). In his writings, he is more interested in defending a tradition hypothesis of the Gospel of John. In his view, the most recommendable commentaries in English on the gospel of John are that of D. A. Carson and that of Craig S. Keener (2 vols.). In our discussion about “John and the Johannine Dialogues”, he directed my attention toward an important document, i.e., the doctoral dissertation of Philipp Bartholomä. Bartholomä’s dissertation, entitled “The Johannine Discourses and the Teaching of Jesus in the Synoptics: A Comparative Approach to the Authenticity of Jesus’ Words in the Fourth Gospel”, was defended at Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven, Belgium, in the year 2010. Moreover,  Prof. Rob brought my attention toward one of Bartholomä’s recent articles entitled “John 5,31-47 and the Teaching of Jesus in the Synoptics. A Comparative Approach” (Biblica, Vol. 92, 2011: 368-391; see the link here). These two documents are very significant with regard to my area of research.

An abstract on Rob’s recent article in Dutch regarding the tradition-hypothesis is: “Different hypotheses have been proposed to solve the synoptic problem. No hypothesis can give a comprehensive explanation, because we lack full information about the origin of the gospels. For Augustine, there was hardly a problem, although the similarities and differences between the first three gospels were well known to him. Since the Enlightenment, scholars tried to find a solution by postulating literary dependence, but there were always new difficulties to face so that this route has become more and more complicated. However, this is not the only direction for finding a solution. A promising alternative, already proposed by the German scholar J. C. L. Gieseler (1792-1854) and in recent decades developed by e.g. Bo Reicke, Richard Bauckham and Armin Baum, is the so-called tradition hypothesis. This hypothesis implies that Matthew, Mark, and Luke used mainly a common oral tradition in the form of the apostolic preaching in Jerusalem. Thus, the New Testament canon begins with a gospel for four voices”.

Prof. Rob’s aptitude in academic affairs, especially in John’s Gospel, strong evangelical and congregational commitments, and hospitality and humbleness attracted me significantly. Fore more details about him and a list of his writings, go here.

By Johnson Thomaskutty (from Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Holland)

  1. […] (9) An Unforgettable Time with Dutch New Testament Scholar Rob van Houwelingen […]

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