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Bultmann, Rudolf ?

Publié le 22/02/2012

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Rudolf Bultmann was one of the most influential Protestant theologians of the period that immediately followed the Second World War. A founding member of the school of dialectical theology in the 1920s, he was a major New Testament scholar, who refined the method of form criticism. He argued that the Synoptic Gospels reveal not the historical Jesus, but the Christ of faith, the Christ-myth developed by the early church. The existentialist philosophy of Martin Heidegger was a major influence, and he adapted it to the needs of Christian theology, devising an existential access to faith. He contrasted Historie - objective, factual accounts of historical events - with Geschichte - the meaning that people choose to give to those events. One must demythologize the New Testament - strip it of its prescientific imagery - before one can interpret its significance for oneself. Bultmann defined biblical hermeneutics as an inquiry into the reality of human existence and proposed a new understanding of the person and teaching of Christ. Central to this is the concept of the kerygma, the proclamation of the salvation-event focused on Christ. It is in response to the kerygma that a human being can actively opt for faith. Bultmann reinterpreted the Lutheran doctrine of justification and the theology of the cross in the light of this.

« works he wrote.

Most of his articles were collectively published in Glauben und Verstehen (Faith and Understanding) (1933-65).

Bultmann retired in 1951. 2 History and myth As a member of the school of dialectical theology that Karl Barth (§§1-2) , Eduard Thurneysen and Emil Brunner (§1) had started in the early 1920s, Bultmann rejected the liberal way of treating Christian faith as a phenomenon of the history of religion.

However, unlike Barth, he carried forward the tradition of biblical criticism.

In spite of the acknowledgement of the paradoxical nature of revelation and faith in Barth's Der Römerbrief (The Epistle to the Romans) (1919), Bultmann did not surrender the method of history of religion that he had successfully applied in his doctoral dissertation.

He was interested in understanding early Christianity within the wider religious and cultural context of its time, and endeavoured to retrace the influence of pre-Christian Gnosticism, Jewish apocalyptic and Manicheism on the New Testament writings.

This orientation led to the later theory of demythologization.

Like David Friedrich Strauss (§1) and the School of Marburg, Bultmann had a modern worldview and wanted to cleanse the New Testament of its naïve prescientific one.

His exegetical research primarily concerned the pre-literary traditions of the New Testament.

He investigated the internal development of the text, its 'setting in life' (Sitz im Leben ) and its literary genres.

In this way, he made significant contributions to form criticism. What are the results of Bultmann's historical investigations? The History of the Synoptic Tradition (1921) provides an analysis of the origin and the redactorial process of the traditions underlying the narrative of Jesus' life.

In the Synoptic Gospels, the original proclaimer, Jesus, has become the Christ, the one proclaimed as God's decisive act for human beings.

The Synoptic Gospels offer an extended picture of the faith of the early Church in Jesus the Christ.

They do not proclaim the historical Jesus but the Christ of faith ( der Christus des Glaubens ), the kerygma , the Christ-myth.

Bultmann unveiled a process in Christology whereby Jesus the historical being developed into the mythical idea of a celestial being, a God-elected king of the eschaton, the pre-existing logos and co-begetter of the universe.

In a famous monograph ( 1926 ), Bultmann characterized this process as a transformation of the Gospel of Christ into the Gospel about Christ.

He claimed that the supernatural events in Jesus' life, including the miracles attributed to him, were legendary, mythical accounts.

Jesus probably was a disciple of John the Baptist, an eschatological prophet.

He created his own community of followers which rivalled that of the Baptist.

But unlike the Baptist, Jesus was both a rabbi who taught the Law of God and a prophet who proclaimed the imminent end of the world.

Jesus died as a messianic prophet. Throughout his work, Bultmann thoroughly respected the principles of positivist historiography.

In his view, there is only one historical method, common to both the believer and the unbeliever.

Against Nietzsche, who claimed that there are only interpretations, he maintained that historical events are knowable objectively.

He was aware of. »


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