The Anti-Christ by Friedrich Nietzsche

By Friedrich Nietzsche

This is often Nietzsche's final publication and a becoming capstone to his profession. It's succinct, biting, and encapsulates the criticisms of Christianity present in his different works. This variation includes an 8,000-word creation via its translator, the well-known iconoclastic author H. L. Mencken.

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It has been easy to show that many were very much the product of their class, time, and political persuasion. Certain scholars have been particularly skillful in uncovering the hidden bias of much traditional “objective” scholarship – indeed, there is now a genre of writing known as “metacommentary” that seeks to do this. Outstanding exponents are David Clines at Sheffield (see Clines 1995), and Yvonne Sherwood at Glasgow (see Sherwood 2000). But linked with this acute perception of the failings of past (and some present) scholars there is often a sense that, since everyone is bound to have a bias – a commitment – the important thing is to make it a good and wholesome one.

As a result of this shift, recent Christian ethics has rediscovered new links with systematic theology and, ironically, with sociology. Within virtue ethics the focus is upon virtuous character and upon those communities that nurture and shape character. We are the products less of rational, individualistic moral decisions made from one situation to another than of ways of living shaped by tradition and community. As Christians our moral lives and characters are shaped by the faith and practice of worshipping communities and the traditions that they carry over the centuries.

Once you begin by studying the text “neutrally,” you have sold the pass; and you are then faced with the problem of how to reunite the “neutral” text with a religiously committed application of it. But the problem is of your own making! You should never have divorced the text from questions of faith in the first place. The religious claims of the text ought never to be bracketed out, not even procedurally, for that concedes the case of skeptics who do not think these texts are special. For a Christian they are special, and they need special types of interpretation, a “special hermeneutic” as it would traditionally have been called.

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