One of Bultmann’s more important books, Jesus and the Word correctly notes that virtually everything we think we know about Jesus stems from documents composed by persons of faith. We have, it’s fair to say, very scant knowledge of the Jesus of History. Spend some time today reading this volume. Free, here.
Perhaps the single most misrepresented aspect of Bultmann’s work is his discussion of ‘demythologization’. Persons who have never read his seminal essay on the New Testament and Mythology have denounced him as some sort of devil. In light of that tragic fact, here you’ll find that essay and you can read it for yourself. And then, after having read it completely, you can see what a disservice has been done to Bultmann over the years by his ignorant naysayers.
In the early 60’s Bultmann delivered the Gifford lectures in a series titled “History and Eschatology”. If you haven’t already, you can read those lectures, free. Here.
The following chapters contain the Gifford Lectures which I was invited to give at the University of Edinburgh from 7th February till 2nd March 1955 The printed text corresponds closely in substance to the lectures as they were delivered. Only minor additions have been made and the number of references to literature increased.
I am conscious that there are many problems which should be discussed further than was possible for me within the framework of these lectures and I must be content if my attempt to deal with them contributes to such further discussion.
I cannot let these lectures be published without saying how deeply grateful I am for the honour of being invited to give the Gifford Lectures and also for the great hospitality and the manifold and helpful kindness which I experienced during the weeks I spent in Edinburgh.
The Qumran Essenes are “sons of Zadok”, so they sport the same name as the Sadducees, in spite of obvious differences. An assessment of some texts (Ben Sira, legal DSS, Josephus) allows us to suggest that they are the two faces of the same coin, of Egyptian origin and with the same calendar: both endeavored to renew the authority of Scripture in the second half of the 2nd cent. BC. First the Sadducees, a Judean movement, strove to challenge the popular Pharisean traditions, of Babylonian origin and faithful to the lunar calendar; a major Qumran document is connected with them (4 QMMT). Then came the Essenes, who kept a local angelology and imported from Egypt a way of life that can be termed Pythagorean, broadly speaking; this led them, with the belief in the immortality of souls, to reshape Biblical eschatology. They took Zadok as an eponym, because he was the high priest who according to tradition revealed to David the written Law (Torah), which was hidden in the Ark since the death of Eleazar and Joshua.
I don’t know for how long, but it really is a bargain.
Calvin was a better theologian than Augustine or that boozehound Irenaeus of Lyons, super doof and special whiner. Indeed, when it comes to the so called church ‘Fathers’ none of them are worth bothering with save Jerome. The church would have been better off if none of them had ever been born. A passel of dreadful Greek and Latin philosophers not theologians the cursed lot of them.