McGrath on the Amazing Infallible Ehrman »« Ehrman Trashtalks Mythicism

Hitler in San Francisco

I was asked to reprise my January talk about my work on the origins of Hitler’s Table Talk and exposing the (so far only) English translation of it as hopelessly unfaithful to the original German, this time in San Francisco, for the AASF. I will summarize key elements of my study on this which was published in German Studies Review many years ago. This book is especially infamous as a source of those “anti-Christian” quotes from Hitler you see bandied about. My talk on this was well received in Walnut Creek, so it’s a delight to be able to again. Full details are available on the AASF Meeting page (including nearest BART station etc.) but in short, it’s Sunday, April 8th (2012) at 3:00 to 5:00 PM, in the Audre Lorde Room (Upstairs) of the Women’s Building, 3543 18th (at Valencia), San Francisco. There is a $6 admittance charge to cover their expenses. I’ll be selling and signing my books, including Proving History. There will be a dinner after the meeting at a nearby reasonably-priced Chinese restaurant.

Comments

  1. R.J. Moore says

    I am quite curious about this, since I have read the Table Talk. Is there a chance of any of this finding its way online?

    • says

      There is already an article on this topic in Freethought Today which summarizes the peer reviewed article in GSR, with some additional background (although you might not want to read that if you are going to the talk; it will spoil some of the surprises). My talk will bring up some other passages not covered in either place, though, and a few other things important to understanding the context. I don’t have any plans to put that talk online. But if in one of my reprisals of it somewhere someday it gets recorded and put online, I will announce it on my blog.

  2. gwen says

    Richard, that is late enough (after working all night), that I may just be able to make it. I did enjoy the talk in WC, and would like to hear it again. I’ll bring the movie with me!

  3. R.J. Moore says

    One point: while I do not question that Hitler was a Christian in the the rhetorical sense that most Americans are ‘Christians’, I’d also say that his ‘true confession’ was Nazism which is only tangentially related to Christianity (as most post-Enlightenment politics are variously forms of secularized Christian heresies).

    • says

      That’s kind of like saying Lutherans or Mormons aren’t Christians, because their “true confession” is Lutheran or Mormon. That’s just disingenuous semantics.

      Anyway, as I’ll show in my talk, Hitler was publicly a devout Catholic, and privately an anti-Catholic adherent of “Positive Christianity,” a popular sect of Christianity in Germany at the time adopted by many in the Nazi party. Not all Nazis were Christians. There were some (mostly closeted) atheists, and some neopagans; and of the Christians, many were Catholic, many Lutheran, and so on, while others were Positive Christians. Thus “Nazism” would not be Hitler’s religion, just his political party (same as “Republican” or “Libertarian”), since Nazism as such was not linked to a single religion (although it was ideologically derivative of Christianity and its membership overwhelmingly Christian).

    • Pitch says

      Since Hitler was a Psychopath and a Liar, why do we give any credence to his public statements?

    • Moe says

      But if he was a Psychopath and a Liar, why would his private statements necessarly be any better?

    • says

      Because he had no reason to lie in private, and his being a psychopath has no bearing on whether what he said was true. Indeed, to the contrary, it would go a long way toward explaining why he believed the things he said. Since his private statements substantially contradict his public statements, we have every reason to believe he was being honest in private; particularly when the context entails no reason for him to be anything but frank.

  4. Tim Wille says

    I just unfaithfully translated this post into German and discovered that you will be paying the tab in the Chinese restaurant. Danke schön!

  5. R.J. Moore says

    Prof. Carrier says: “That’s kind of like saying Lutherans or Mormons aren’t Christians, because their “true confession” is Lutheran or Mormon. That’s just disingenuous semantics.”

    That’s not the kind of point I was trying to make, though I can sympathise, because the No-True-Scotssman game is something I’ve encountered with Anti-Mormons, for example. I am saying that Christianity, by that point, had been so weirdly secularised and deistically refined in much of the European consciousness that the basket term ‘Christian’ becomes rather nebulous. I believe Rene Salm has made the same point as regards to Ehrman’s use of the term ‘Christian’ in a historical sense. Hitler was most definitely influenced by Christian theology and social thought, in ways he did not even comprehend I am sure, so the attempt by Christians to disassociate from him is indeed disingenuous.

    What I am saying is that we should probably start classifying the Christianities more forensically, as they are so variagated as to often have almost nothing in common (for example: what makes New Thought and Assyrian Church of the East the same religion? Habits about what name to use for the savior, which books to rationalize yourself with, and that’s about it.

    I am quite interested in what you have to say about Hitler’s personal and public confessional, I’m sure it will be fascinating.

    • says

      R.J. Moore:

      I am saying that Christianity, by that point, had been so weirdly secularised and deistically refined in much of the European consciousness that the basket term ‘Christian’ becomes rather nebulous.

      But that’s universally true of Christianity as a whole. Consider the brutality of Christians in the Middle Ages. How ruthlessly they persecuted Anabaptists. Anabaptists! Or the genocide of Native Americans. The justification of American slavery. Christianity has been weirdly distorted into forms that are unrecognizable. Yet it’s very definitely Christian, to the core. Hitler’s enaction of the Lutheran platform against the Jews is just more of the same. There isn’t any sense in which it has been secularized (Hitler loathed atheists and was intent on purging them, declaring them enemies of the state) or deistic (Hitler was a follower of an Aryan Jesus and of a very real God who created the universe and bestows men with gifts on earth and sends them to heaven and even arranged for Hitler to conquer the world).

      What I am saying is that we should probably start classifying the Christianities more forensically, as they are so variagated as to often have almost nothing in common (for example: what makes New Thought and Assyrian Church of the East the same religion? Habits about what name to use for the savior, which books to rationalize yourself with, and that’s about it.

      I agree. Christianity is so wildly diverse you can’t really peg it. But what does make them all (except for very extreme fringe versions not relevant to Nazism) the same is: belief in and reverence for the Christ as God’s chosen (in accordance with at least one Gospel), and for God as the Creator and source of Providence, and for an eternal afterlife for the elect. Hitler scores 3 for 3.

    • says

      Just FYI, that’s technically in copyright violation. This has happened before, and it got taken down (not at my request, though). So readers should be advised that that link might not be indefinitely available.

    • Julien Rousseau says

      I have one little correction about your paper. You said:

      First, the English of Stevens and Cameron uses the word “trafficks”precisely where Genoud uses trafique. But though trafique sounds like traffick, it actually means “toy with, tamper with, to doctor,” not traffick (“to sell, deal with, trade in”). This makes their translation seem rather amateurish, as well as patently from the French, not the German, which doesn’t really suggest such a word.

      In French Traffiquer also means “to sell, deal with, trade in”, for example “traffic de drogue”, thought it is mostly used for illicit trade in that sense rather than legal trade.

      See definition 1 of the intransitive form here:
      http://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/trafiquer

      It doesn’t change your conclusion but I thought you might appreciate the input.

    • Julien Rousseau says

      That’s true, in the intransitive. But not the transitive. Stevens and Cameron use the latter.

      What does it matter when we are trying to determine the meaning of what Genoud wrote and if it was translated properly?

      I haven’t studied grammar since school so maybe I am missing something but I am reading Genoud’s French in the way they translated it in English, to mean “to make commerce of”, not “to tamper”. To see it replace “traffique” with either “fait commerce” or “altérer”.

      1. “Mais je ne dois rien à cette Eglise qui fait commerce du salut des âmes”.

      2. “Mais je ne dois rien à cette Eglise qui altère le salut des âmes”.

      I am reading the French as meaning 1 and thus correctly translated (regardless of whether the translators used a transitive or intransitive form in English, unless doing so changes the meaning in English too) and you seem to read it as 2 whereas for met to read it as 2 the French would have to be written:

      “Mais je ne dois rien à cette Eglise qui traffique le salut des âmes”.

      Like I said, Grammar is a long way off for me so I may be missing something here but I still don’t see what it is that I am missing.

      Anyway, like i said it is just a minor point so I won’t belabor it any further than I already have but thanks for the answer.

    • says

      Julien Rousseau:

      What does it matter when we are trying to determine the meaning of what Genoud wrote and if it was translated properly?

      Because it proves they were translating from Genoud’s French and not (as they claimed) Hitler’s German. The relevance of that is that the original German does not say what Genoud’s French translation claims, so by translating from the French instead, the English edition is wholly unreliable.

    • Julien Rousseau says

      Because it proves they were translating from Genoud’s French and not (as they claimed) Hitler’s German.

      Ok. I did not see it as being important because I agreed with you about that (I should have made it explicit, instead of only saying that it did not change your conclusion), I only disagreed on whether their translation of “traffique” was correct or not.

  6. says

    OT: I checked out the Freethought Today article which was excellent as usual. Was thrown off by the Bio picture, which is obviously some 17 year old… a cute 17 year but still. ;) I had to go back and see the date was 2002! I was pretty babyfaced myself for a long time, go back just 15 years and I was still getting carded.

  7. DrVanNostrand says

    Are you approximately local to the Bay Area? Have you ever thought about giving a talk at Stanford hosted by our Atheist, Humanist, and Agnostic group? I’ve been on the email list for several years and I don’t recall seeing one of your talks advertised.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>