Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Another word on the "feast day" of Franz Bibfeldt

Lest there be any confusion: yesterday's post on the "feast day" of Franz Bibfeldt, coming as it did on April 1, was an April Fool's joke, in continuity with many such April 1 Bibfeldt observances connected with the University of Chicago Divinity School, which one can read about here and here.

I first discovered the Bibfeldt tradition when I happened across a copy of the faux Festschrift for Bibfeldt, The Unrelieved Paradox: Studies in the Theology of Franz Bibfeldt, ed. Martin E. Marty and Jerald C. Brauer (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1994) in a Borders bookstore in Fort Worth, Texas. I found myself laughing aloud in the aisle several times and realized that I likely couldn't begin to explain to anyone else in the store why I found it so hilariously funny. (For what it's worth, my favorite title in the Bibfeldt bibliography is Vielleicht?, Bibfeldt's response to Karl Barth's Nein! to Emil Brunner on the possibility of natural theology, with his book Either/Or and/or Both/And a close second.)

Every now and then when one of my theology class sessions coincided with April 1, I would give in advance of that class meeting an off-the-syllabus assignment asking my students to do some independent research to see what they could learn about a theologian named Franz Bibfeldt, then debrief their findings during the April 1 session. A few students caught the joke before I revealed it.

The Unrelieved Paradox is now available in an "18th (or Perhaps 19th) Anniversary Revised Edition."

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