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Martin Dibelius

1883-1947. German NT scholar and theologian. He taught in Berlin (1910-15) and Heidelberg (1915- 47), where he succeeded J. Weiss. When his early interest in Semitic languages and comparative religion gave way to NT studies, he soon made the important transition from problems of literary criticism to concern with oral tradition in the gospels. Thus, along with K.L. Schmidt, H. Gunkel, and R. Bultmann,* he helped to found Form-Criticism.* Die Formgeschichte des Evangeliums (1919; ET, From Tradition to Gospel, 1934) presented his view that the church's preaching was the medium of the transmission of the words of Jesus. The gospels are thus to be regarded as popular rather than “high” literature, and the Evangelists as compilers of traditional material rather than independent authors. Dibelius tended to be more restrained in his judgments than others in the Form-Critical school. Dibelius also did important work on the origin and history of ethical instruction in the NT and the relation of eschatology and ethics. As a leader of the Faith and Order* movement he worked for an adequate theological basis for the ecumenical movement as a whole.