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Modern Theological German: A Reader and Dictionary [Paperback]

By Helmut W. Ziefle (Editor)
Our Price $ 42.40  
Item Number 145121  
Buy New $42.40

Item Specifications...

Pages   648
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.32" Width: 5.52" Height: 1.6"
Weight:   1.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 5, 2012
Publisher   Baker Academic
Age  18
ISBN  0801021448  
EAN  9780801021442  

Availability  2 units.
Availability accurate as of Jan 23, 2018 05:19.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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Sociology of Education - Full Series Preview
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  Modern Theological German: A Reader and Dictionary   $ 42.40   In Stock  

Item Description...
A revised edition of the author's popular German reader is now combined with his dictionary of theological German into one handy volume. This work provides a useful introduction for seminary and graduate students who desire a reading knowledge of the German theological vocabulary. This revised reader contains several new readings and is divided into two sections. The first is comprised of a number of selections taken from the German Bible, intended to assist the student by beginning with familiar texts. The second section moves on to more difficult selections drawn from the writings of a number of German theologians, including Martin Luther, Albert Schweitzer, Karl Barth, Helmut Thielicke, and Rainer Riesner. The dictionary, previously published as a separate volume, contains over 20,000 terms. Because of the specialized nature of the theological task and its vocabulary, many of the terms found in Ziefle's dictionary are not generally found, or are given but slight treatment, in traditional German dictionaries. To help the beginning student with pronunciation, a companion cassette tape with selected portions of the readings is also available. Ziefle's work has long been the best resource of its kind, and now in its revised and combined form, it will prove to be even more useful to theological students who seek access to the wealth of material available only in German.

Publishers Description
Contains selections from the German Bible and theologians such as Luther, Barth, Thielecke, and Riesner, The dictionary defines over 20,000 terms.

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More About Helmut W. Ziefle

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Helmut W. Ziefle (Ph.D., University of Illinois) is professor of German at Wheaton College, where he has taught since 1967. He has written several books, most of which are in German, his native language.

Helmut W. Ziefle was born in 1939.

Helmut W. Ziefle has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Sociology of Education

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Reference > Dictionaries & Thesauruses > Foreign Language > German   [93  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Depends on what you're looking for...  Feb 23, 2008
My approach to this book is different from the other reviewers. I am not in seminary preparing to pass a test. Instead I am learning German for my own use and pleasure.

Several reviewers have complained that Ziefle doesn't cover basic grammar.I don't expect a book on theological German to contain general grammar, nor do I want it to. When I want general grammar, I buy a general grammar book. When I want information on a specific aspect of German -- such as theology -- then that is what I expect the book to cover. I don't want to have to pay for or sift through the basic German I've learned elsewhere.

My major disappointment with this book is that the dictionary only goes one way -- from German to English. So if I want to know the word for "salvation" or for "apostasy", I can't find it in Ziefle's book. An English to German section is important to me.

Based on a small sampling of words, it seems that Ziefle's dictionary adds little insight that can't be found in any good German dictionary.

And as someone else as already pointed out, Ziefle does not provide enough of an answer key to know whether or not you did the work correctly.

But there are very few books available on theological German. So if that's what you need, this is a decent purchase. But it's definitely not a necessary purchase.
Will not teach you theological German but readings and dictionary are somewhat useful  Oct 1, 2007
The book jacket of this book is patently untrue. It says, "This work provides a useful introduction for seminary and graduate students who desire a reading knowledge of the German theological vocabulary." On the contrary, this book provides theological readings for people who already know German and provides a dictionary of twenty thousand theological terms. If you need to learn theological German, get German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German. I expand on what I have just said below.

Pay attention to the subtitle of this book. It is indeed "a Reader and Dictionary." It provides selections from German theologians and gives you some hints on how to translate them. It does not provide an answer key so you will not know if you have done them correctly. There are multiple choice questions after each reading which allow you to check your grammatical accuracy on a few points. These questions however will be useless if you don't have a basis in German grammer. Furthermore, the multiple choice questions are of limited use because for your exams and work, you will have translation to do. Multiple choice would be far too easy - someone else has already looked up all the vocabulary words for you! I enjoyed translating Barth and Bonhoeffer but I was unfamiliar with most of the other writers.

The dictionary is on the one hand too large and on the other hand incomplete. It includes 20,000 theological words, far too many to memorize. But it does not include many normal nontheological words so you will need another dictionary in addition to this one (such as Oxford-Duden German Dictionary: German-English / English-German or Collins German Unabridged Dictionary, 7th Edition). The dictionary might of use to you in translating some particularly odd theological terms. I had it on hand for my theological German competency exam.

If you want to learn to read theological German to pass a competency exam, you will need a book that teaches you the basics of reading. The best in my opinion is German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German. There are 25 reviews posted on this site about it including mine. The author, April Wilson, will email you 10 theological reading passages with the full correct translations if you buy her book. Her website is and her email address is

Finally, do not be deceived by the fact that the book was apprarently revised in 1997. It is the same book as was originally published in 1986 but just combined with the 1982 dictionary. (I am almost sure this is correct but I am happy to be corrected by another reviewer if I am wrong about this).

If you already have a grasp of German grammer, Modern Theological German will be of some use to you. Get it at the library.
Good, but...  Jun 22, 2004
My first choice is to get "Manton's" work on the same subject since Manton, from what I was told, covers German grammar, whereas Ziefle does not. The book starts off with translating German Bible texts, ones that the author assumes you are familiar with, and then goes on to more difficult works (Luther, Bonhoeffer, Barth, etc.). The problem that I ran into was that since I have zero German I had a problem identifying certain words that were not included in the dictionary in the back (which lead me to purchase a German-English dictionary). Also Ziefle does not cover any grammar, which means that you have to go out and purchase a grammar text. In the end you are spending more money then what you thought you would. If you can get a hold of "Manton's" text, I am told it covers grammar in it as well as some of the other stuff, do so. Unfortunately Manton's text is out-of-print so you will have to resort to spending lots of money on a used copy.
Useful, but in need of revision  Jun 17, 2004
Helmut Ziefle's Modern Theological German consists of two parts,
readings, first from the Bible, then from theologians, and of
a dictionary of specialized terms.

The Biblical passages are of value for anyone studying theology. However, I wish Professor Ziefle had included writings from Tillich (whose German is usually straightforward), Bultmann, and Rahner. Professor Ziefle listed the theologians chronologically, but it would have helped students if he had indicated which passages were easiest to read. The final passage by Riesner is easier than the passage by Stuhlmacher and Class. Although the Bonhoeffer passage is useful for understanding Bonhoeffer's theology, other selections from Bonhoeffer would have been easier for beginning students to read.

Although it cannot be used as a general reference because many basic words are omitted ("sein" is defined only as a possessive adjective, and not as the verb "to be"), Ziefle's selection of vocabulary words is fascinating, and he puts them in their biblical context, which might make them easier to memorize.

"Modern Theological German" cannot be used as a reader unless a student has some background in German. Although Ziefle recommends textbooks, he does not mention the three prominent German for Reading textbooks (all reviewed on this site): April Wilson's "German Quickly;" "Reading German" by Coles and Dodd; or Jannach and Korb's "German for Reading Knowledge". Moreover, he recommends the Cassell's dictionary, even though it has not been updated since 1979, and the Harper Collins and Oxford Duden
dictionaries are far superior.

Despite my reservations, I consider "Modern Theological German" to be an important reference for anyone wishing to use theological German. It is also quite reasonably priced.

Useful, but get a grammar too  Sep 8, 2000
I need theological German for my future religious education, and I thought I would get a good start by buying this book. Included in the book is a very useful reader that starts off with simple Biblical texts and works up to more difficult German writers like Karl Barth. To the left of each page of German there are English helps. However, I needed more help than that could give me, so I had to search the web for a good German grammar. Also there are questions at the end of each section to help the reader learn the finer points of the translation. This is very helpful.

The second part is a complete dictionary of common German words that appear in Theological writings. There is also a small table of German irregular verbs at the end.

My suggestion is this. This will be helpful to those who know some basic German already, or those who have access to a basic German grammar (Ziefle suggests some good grammars). I still recommend the book though. I have learned quite a bit already. A concentrated book like this will also save you the trouble of learning German in a non-Theological framework, and then finding out you learned all the wrong vocabulary.


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