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Makers of the Modern Theological Mind: Rudolf Bultmann

9781619708136oDecades ago Morris Ashcraft wrote the definitive exposition of the theology of Rudolf Bultmann.  It also went out of print decades ago and became a classic in the meanwhile.

Hendrickson has, thankfully, republished this masterpiece in paperback and made it once more easily available.

How can modern scientific humanity understand the strange religious language of the Bible? This is one of the questions Rudolf Bultmann (1884–1976) spent his life answering. As a devout Lutheran committed to the Christian faith, Bultmann’s concern was how to make Christianity intelligible in the twentieth century. His concept of demythologizing was part of his lifelong attempt to help people “hear” the Christian gospel and respond to it authentically. All of this originated out of a genuine pastoral concern to highlight the nature of New Testament faith. As Morris Ashcraft writes, “He stands alongside Karl Barth as a man who changed the direction of theology significantly and perhaps permanently.”

In this book, along with a brief biographical sketch, Morris Ashcraft provides a concise and reliable guide to Bultmann’s system of thought and his continuing influence.

Dean Ashcraft was at Southeastern Seminary while I was there doing an MDiv and a ThM and a finer scholar and Christian you’ve never met.  His book on Bultmann remains the finest of the genre.  Students of the New Testament should all be required to read it.

 
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Posted by on 30 Jul 2020 in Book of the Week, Books, Modern Culture

 

A Fun Fact About Rudolf Bultmann

According to his biographer, Konrad Hammann, Bultmann either sent or received around 20,000 pieces of correspondence over the course of his career!

That’s a lot of mail!  And none of it was electronic!!!!

 
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Posted by on 30 Jul 2020 in Modern Culture

 

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Remembering the Death of Rudolf Bultmann: His Most Influential Commentary

bultmannPersonally, I’ll admit, I love his commentary on 2 Corinthians most, but I suppose it’s fair to say that his greatest commentary is the one on the Gospel of John.  In many ways it has been surpassed but it continues to exert grand influence on the area of Johannine studies.  I can’t think of a single commentary since that hasn’t made reference to his.  Not one.  It has even been republished numerous times- as recently as last year-

As the first volume in the Johannine Monograph Series, The Gospel of John: A Commentary by Rudolf Bultmann well deserves this place of pride. Indeed, this provocative commentary is arguably the most important New Testament monograph in the twentieth century, perhaps second only to The Quest of the Historical Jesus by Albert Schweitzer. In contrasting Bultmann’s and Schweitzer’s paradigms, however, we find that Bultmann’s is far more technically argued and original, commanding hegemony among other early-Christianity paradigms. Ernst Haenchen has described Bultmann’s commentary as a giant oak tree in whose shade nothing could grow, and indeed, this reference accurately describes its dominance among Continental Protestant scholarship over the course of several decades.

Indeed.

 
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Posted by on 30 Jul 2020 in Modern Culture

 

Remembering Rudolf Bultmann on the Anniversary of his Death: The Marburg Sermons

Bultmann was never ordained but he was frequently asked to preach and he was always active in the life of the Lutheran parish in Marburg.  It was his task to stand at the door with the poor box and receive offerings as congregants left the service on Sunday morning.  And he took this job seriously and performed it every Sunday he was in attendance (which was every Sunday he wasn’t elsewhere lecturing or preaching).

He was, to put it bluntly, a better Church member than the Fundamentalists who assail him without cause.

If you have never read any of his sermons, find a copy of this book and read them.  You won’t regret it.  You will regret it if you don’t, though.

188240

 
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Posted by on 30 Jul 2020 in Modern Culture

 

Bultmann: A Man Of Courage

bultmann22As related by Kurt Anders Richardson on FB-

Some years ago as a visiting prof at Uni Marburg theologische Fakultaet, I was told several times by different people about a certain non-lecture event. On the morning after that first Nazi pogrom, “Kristallnacht”, the regular lecture of Rudolf Bultmann was to take place.

His usual hall was on the third floor in the south east corner of the building with windows on two sides. For years the view had included the Synagogue of Marburg; but now, it was a smoking foundation.

Bultmann walked in at his usual time to a packed and silent room, everyone braced to hear what he might have to say – although all were now fearful to say anything. He came to the lectern, opened his folder, but immediately turned away from the students, walking over to the windows. For the entire period Bultmann stood staring out the window at the empty space and made no sound whatsoever. At the end of the time he returned to his notes, closed the folder, and walked out of the room.

Sometimes, many times indeed, silence speaks loudest of all.  Bultmann became a member of the Confessing Church and an inveterate foe of the ‘German Christians’ and Naziism.  Because of his standing he was left alone.  Had he been a man of less importance there is no reason to believe he wouldn’t have died in a death camp.

 
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Posted by on 30 Jul 2020 in Modern Culture

 

The Two Best Books About Bultmann

  1. The best biography of Bultmann is that of Konrad Hammann (and it’s better in German).  Particularly important is his discussion of Bultmann during the era of the Second World War.
  2. The best short study of Bultmann’s theology is Gareth Jones’s “Bultmann: Towards a Critical Theology“.  This book has not received the very wide attention it deserves.  It is indispensable.

People ask me from time to time how they can best be introduced to Bultmann’s theology and I always tell them- read BULTMANN!  Once, though, you’ve read half a dozen or more of Bultmann’s books, these three are next on the list – at the top of the list of books ABOUT Bultmann that interested persons should read.  Bultmann first, these three next.  And then it’s back to Bultmann himself.

You will never learn about someone’s ideas if you only read what others think.  You have to have first hand acquaintance with someone’s work.  There are no shortcuts.

 
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Posted by on 30 Jul 2020 in Modern Culture

 

Remembering Bultmann on the Anniversary of His Death: The Gifford Lectures

TPESCH00000c100LIn 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.

Preface

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.

Rudolf Bultmann

 
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Posted by on 30 Jul 2020 in Modern Culture

 

F.F. Bruce- On The Passing of Bultmann

When the Society for New Testament Studies held its annual meeting in August 1976 at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, the secretary read out at the opening session the names of members who had died since the previous meeting. When this is done, the chairman usually invites those present to stand for a moment in respect for the memory of departed colleagues. On this occasion, when the names were read in alphabetical order, the first was that of Professor Dr. Rudolf Bultmann, and as soon as his name was read out, the audience rose to its feet as one man: such was the esteem in which this veteran scholar was held, by those who disagreed most profoundly with him as well by members of his school.

Rudolf Bultmann was appointed Lecturer in New Testament at Marburg in 1912. After four years there he moved to Breslau and then to Giessen, but in 1921 he returned to Marburg as full professor, and remained there for thirty years of active teaching and then for twenty-five years of active retirement.

Outside the academic world he became known first for his identification with the Confessing Church movement in its opposition to the Hitler regime, and then for his ‘demythologizing programme’. In both respects he was moved by concern for the purity of the gospel. The demythologizing programme attempted to remove what he considered to be all irrelevant stumbling-blocks in the way of the gospel so that men and women might be confronted by the unencumbered offence of the cross. Like a number of other German theologians, he was more Lutheran than Luther: he deplored any appeal to the historical foundation of Christianity on the ground that justification by history was simply one form of justification by works and therefore inimical to the gospel of justification by faith alone.

He was not sceptical for the sake of scepticism, and some who could be described as being just that could not understand why, in view of his negative attitude to the historical evidence, he bore firm witness to Jesus as the Word became flesh. The reason was not far to seek: he knew whom he had believed.

F.F. Bruce

 
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Posted by on 30 Jul 2020 in Modern Culture

 

In Memoriam Rudolf Karl Bultmann

Rudolf Bultmann, the most important New Testament scholar in the history of Christianity, died on the 30th of July, 1976.

Fundamentalists and the ignorant have demonized Bultmann as some sort of heretic but nothing could be further from the truth, as anyone who has bothered to read Bultmann’s bio or even his sermons knows.

Take a little time to read Bultmann, instead of reading about Bultmann, and you’ll come to appreciate the great man for yourself.

Lest we forget…

 
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Posted by on 30 Jul 2020 in Modern Culture

 

Read Rudolf Bultmann’s Dissertation

Here.

bultmann

 
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Posted by on 30 Jul 2020 in Modern Culture

 

The Anniversary of Rudolf Bultmann’s Death: Jesus and the Word

BultmannOne 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.

 
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Posted by on 30 Jul 2020 in Modern Culture

 

Bultmann Was A Giant Long Before He Died

Der Spiegel carried this report about the great man and those who were in 1966 protesting him!

RUDOLF BULTMANN ist neben Karl Barth der bedeutendste und zugleich der umstrittenste Theologe der Gegenwart. Die Schüler und Anhänger des 81jährigen Marburger Protestanten vergleichen seine Arbeiten mit denen Luthers, Kants und Kierkegaards, seine Gegner halten ihn für einen “Irrlehrer” und fordern von der evangelischen Kirche, daß sie zum erstenmal in ihrer Geschichte einen ihrer führenden Wissenschaftler verketzert.

Für und wider Bultmann wurden Hunderte von Büchern und Broschüren sowie Tausende von Aufsätzen-geschrieben. In diesem Jahr griff die Auseinandersetzung auch auf die Gemeinde über. Seit im März 1966 in der Dortmunder Westfalenhalle 22 000 “Protestanten an einer Protestkundgebung gegen Bultmann teilgenommen haben, breitet sich in der Bundesrepublik eine “Bekenntnisbewegung” gegen die von dem Marburger Gelehrten geprägte moderne Theologie aus. In Braunschweig unterschrieben Hunderte von Pfarrern eine Resolution, in der etwa 70 angebliche “Irrlehren” Bultmanns verurteilt werden. Bis vor die Synode – das Parlament und höchste Organ der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland – wurde der Streit um Bultmann bereits getragen.

Silly people.  Silly, and silly.  Read the rest of the essay on this, the birth-iversary of the 20th century’s greatest exegete.

 
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Posted by on 30 Jul 2020 in Modern Culture

 

Tomorrow is the Anniversary of Rudolf Karl Bultmann’s Death

Stay tuned for a day of remembrance.  It is impossible for me to express how important Bultmann has been to me over the course of my life.  He and von Rad were pivotal and critical while I was in grad school and they have both remained insurmountable and indestructible.   Those who haven’t read Bultmann really have no reason to describe themselves as New Testament scholars just as those who have ignored von Rad have no cause to call themselves Old Testament scholars.  They are both that important and that epoch making.

 

 
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Posted by on 29 Jul 2020 in Modern Culture

 

Rudolf Bultmann’s Advice to all Biblical Scholars

b1In today’s parlance- if you don’t understand it, don’t talk about it.  And if you don’t have first hand familiarity with it, leave it to those who do to explain.

 
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Posted by on 8 Jul 2020 in Modern Culture

 
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Bultmann and Wright’s Relative Importance in a Single Photo

 
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Posted by on 3 Jun 2020 in Modern Culture

 

#QOTD: Graham Stanton on Bultmann

Ah, Rudolf Karl Bultmann- the greatest NT scholar of all time.

Theological Musings

Many who have a nodding acquaintance with twentieth-century theology associate Bultmann with radical skepticism concerning the historicity of the gospels, with lack of interest in the historical Jesus, with ‘demythologizing’ and with use of existentialism in interpretation of the NT. On each of these questions Bultmann has frequently been misunderstood. But whether or not once accepts his conclusions, his writings are of the utmost importance for contemporary theology. The issues they raise will be on the theologian’s agenda for a long time to come.
“Rudolf Bultmann: Jesus and the Word.” Studies in Matthew and Early Christianity, 261.

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2 Comments

Posted by on 26 Mar 2020 in Modern Culture

 

Rudolf Karl Bultmann Answers Your Questions

Instead of RKB answering each question individually, he’s put together a series of prepared responses.  Expect to see them at appropriate moments…

 

 
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Posted by on 8 Dec 2019 in Modern Culture

 

The 2020 Rudolf-Bultmann-Gesellschaft Meeting

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Posted by on 5 Dec 2019 in Modern Culture

 

Rudolf Bultmann: The Morning After Kristallnacht

bultmann22As related by Kurt Anders Richardson on FB-

Some years ago as a visiting prof at Uni Marburg theologische Fakultaet, I was told several times by different people about a certain non-lecture event. On the morning after that first Nazi pogrom, “Kristallnacht”, the regular lecture of Rudolf Bultmann was to take place.

His usual hall was on the third floor in the south east corner of the building with windows on two sides. For years the view had included the Synagogue of Marburg; but now, it was a smoking foundation.

Bultmann walked in at his usual time to a packed and silent room, everyone braced to hear what he might have to say – although all were now fearful to say anything. He came to the lectern, opened his folder, but immediately turned away from the students, walking over to the windows. For the entire period Bultmann stood staring out the window at the empty space and made no sound whatsoever. At the end of the time he returned to his notes, closed the folder, and walked out of the room.

Sometimes, many times indeed, silence speaks loudest of all.  Bultmann became a member of the Confessing Church and an inveterate foe of the ‘German Christians’ and Naziism.  Because of his standing he was left alone.  Had he been a man of less importance there is no reason to believe he wouldn’t have died in a death camp.

via.

 
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Posted by on 9 Nov 2019 in Modern Culture

 

If You Missed the Lecture on Bultmann in Zurich…

Watch it here.

 
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Posted by on 27 Oct 2019 in Modern Culture