Category Archives: Bultmann

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.


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.

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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…

The Theology of the New Testament

nttheoBultmann’s most celebrated volume needs no introduction.  No one unfamiliar with it since its first publication has ever studied the New Testament seriously.

Pick up a copy if you don’t already have it.

Memorializing Rudolf Karl Bultmann on the Anniversary of His Death

bultmann_graveRudolf Karl Bultmann, the greatest New Testament exegete of the 20th century (and as yet still unsurpassed as the best New Testament exegete of all time) died on the 30th of July in 1976.  In honor of the great man, here’s a photo gallery.  Here’s a recent book about him.  Here’s a fun essay about him.  Here’s a quote from the quotable chap.  And here’s a reminiscence on the anniversary of his death I posted several years ago.

Rudolf, you were and remain the greatest New Testament scholar of your generation and ours.

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.

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

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.


A Review of a New Edition of Bultmann’s Correspondence

Der nun erschienene Briefwechsel Rudolf Bultmanns mit Götz Harbsmeier und Ernst Wolf in den Jahren 1933 bis 1976 ist mehr als ein editorischer Lückenschluss. Wer den Band zur Hand nimmt, bekommt fast alle Fäden in die Hand, die theologiegeschichtlich und kirchenpolitisch Mitte des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts gesponnen wurden, sowie einen bunten Flecken allgemeiner (Nach-)Kriegsgeschichte obendrein. In der Korrespondenz der drei Professoren lässt sich beobachten, wie der deutsche Protestantismus nach 1945 auf jene Gleise gesetzt wurde, auf denen er sich mehr oder minder bis heute bewegt. Die Politisierung der Kirche oder den andauernden Streit über die Bekenntnisfrage – vieles versteht man nach der Lektüre genauer.

Read the rest.  And read about the book here.

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.

Gerechtigkeit verstehen

04916_landmesser_popkes_gerechtigkeitMenschliches Leben kann sich nur dort zum Guten entfalten, wo auch Gerechtigkeit herrscht. Was aber ist Gerechtigkeit? Ganz selbstverständlich fordern wir Gerechtigkeit in allen Bereichen unseres Lebens. Um Gerechtigkeit aber auch zur Geltung zu bringen, ist eine grundsätzliche Verständigung darüber erforderlich, was wir unter Gerechtigkeit verstehen wollen.

Diesem Leitthema widmete sich die 18. Jahrestagung der Rudolf-Bultmann-Gesellschaft für Hermeneutische Theologie e. V., deren Erträge durch den vorliegenden Sammelband dokumentiert werden.

Mit Beiträgen von Hermann Spieckermann, Christof Landmesser, Angelika Neuwirth, Rainer Marten, Tom Kleffmann und Bischof Otfried July.

The papers herein were read at the 2016 Rudolf-Bultmann-Gesellschaft that met in Bad Herrenalb.  In total six essays plus an introduction comprise the substance and each addresses the theological concept of ‘righteousness’ from a particular perspective.  Accordingly, the first, by H. Spickermann is an investigation of the concept in the Old Testament. The second, by Landmesser sees the concept through the lenses of Matthew and Paul. The third steps away from the Bible and thinks about the subject from the point of view of the Koran whilst the fourth widens the vista further by broadly discussing the question of righteousness itself.

In chapter 5, T. Kleffmann returns to a consideration of the subject from a theological perspective- particularly from the point of view of Pauline studies and the last chapter F. July attempts to bring the subject to bear on present churchly practice among the Diaconate.

I am happy to confess the first two chapters are nearer my own interests than the others, which is why I am pleased to have encountered those first two and the latter four, for they broaden the reader’s perspective exponentially. I know virtually nothing of the Koran so that I cannot rightly analyze the contents of that chapter and nonetheless am glad to have read it simply because it is so very instructive. Indeed, perhaps Jewish/ Christian/ and Muslim dialogue should and can begin with a colloquium on the subject of ‘righteousness’.

When the Bultmann-Gesellschaft holds its annual meetings the scholars presenting always bring intriguing and helpful ideas to the table.  The publication of those proceedings by the Evangelische Verlagsanstalt Leipzig should be greeted with appreciation as they allow the entire interested theological public to ‘sit in’ on the sessions even if they cannot do so literally.

Even More Cause For Envy from Aitken



Quote of the Day

English: Rudolf_Bultmann Deutsch: Rudolf_Bultmann

“God is not at the disposal of a seeing that is outside of God, for there is no outside of God. Thus, seeing God cannot be objective. Any seeing of God that would be interested only in the seeing would not be a seeing of God; for a seeing of God that did not see God’s significance, and specifically God’s significance for me as the one doing the seeing, would not be a seeing of God, who cannot be seen at all except as the one who demands and judges, gives and shows mercy, precisely in relation to me” (Bultmann)

Something to Do Today

If you’re looking for a sensible way to celebrate Bultmann’s birthday that’s low fat and calorie free, give all these posts a read.  That’ll keep you busy.

Happy birthday, RKB.

It’s Rudolf, not Rudolph

Because, let’s face it, your ‘scholarship’ can’t at all be taken seriously if you don’t know the basic facts.  Seriously.


Come on people.  Learn something before you say something.  Oh, and Bultmann is right. Unless you think speculation and hyperbole are ‘scholarship’.

Celebrating Bultmann

Welcome to the Bultmann Birthday Bash.  Over the course of the day, expect lots of Bultmann as we celebrate his birth-iversary.

Jason Staples: Anti-Bultmann False Prophet

Back on this day in 2013 we were discussing Bultmann and Jason Staples commented thusly on facebook-


And as if that weren’t appalling enough, he continued a bit later


Boy did he miss it.  Those who discount Bultmann abandon sense.  Don’t be like Jason.  Don’t abandon sense.

You Reap What You Sow, Chris Tilling…

Many of you will know how Chris Tilling cruelly abandoned our lifelong friendship to hitch his wagon to Doug Campbell (roomie thief) for SBL 2016 in San Antonio.

Well, to prove the old adage ‘you reap what you sow’, it turns out that Tilling was massively dissed by Campbell (roomie thief) during a Wipf and Stock interview- saying, as you’ll see, that Tilling ‘is a joke’!

Cruel!  And Unusual!  PUNISHMENT!  #Glory. #TakeThatYouWretch.

Why You Should Follow the Pitts Library on Instagram

If things like this aren’t sufficient reason– then nothing is:


Bultmann wasn’t just smarter than Barth, he had better penmanship.

W.G. Kümmel Sends A Postcard and Discusses R.K. Bultmann

Michael Lattke has it posted online here.  Nifty.

But the Greatest of these is Brunner

barth_brunner_bultAs we are here* reminded

Brunner’s many books reveal his theological breadth and express his personality-oriented approach to doctrine. The Mediator (1927), in expounding the person and work of Christ, rejected the Virgin Birth as an unfounded idea and unnecessary for faith in Jesus’ deity. Brunner did affirm in that book an ambiguous doctrine of the Resurrection. His basic view on the “orders of creation” was set forth in The Divine Imperative (1932). Man in Revolt (1937) stressed Brunner’s break from liberal theology’s optimistic view of human nature, and attempted to develop a new doctrine of sin. In The Divine-Human Encounter (1938) his existentialist idea of God’s dealings with people was evident. Revelation and Reason (1941) served as an introduction to his three-part systematic theology, published between 1946 and 1960.

Brunner’s Gifford lectures (on natural theology) at the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) were published as Christianity and Civilization (1947–1948). Two works that were especially important to him were Our Faith (1935), a small compendium of theology intended as studies for lay people, and Eternal Hope (1953), an eschatological study written in response to his second son’s tragic death.

And most importantly

Although Brunner was never as popular a theologian a Karl Barth, his writings were actually better known. His writing style was clearer than Barth’s, and his views were generally thought to be more moderate. Many of Brunner’s treatises, especially his three-volume systematic theology, Dogmatics (1946–1960), have been used as seminary textbooks.

Reformed theology hasn’t been encountered until Emil Brunner has been.  Barth, Brunner, and Bultmann… these three abide.  But the greatest of these is Brunner.
*Who’s Who in Christian history (pp. 110–111).