Tag Archives: Rudolf Bultmann

William Baird’s Long Awaited Third Volume

9780800699185.jpgbThis is happy news:  it’s available as of March 1.

In this masterful volume—the culmination of his three-volume History of New Testament Research (vol. 1, From Deism to Tübingen, 1992; vol. 2, From Jonathan Edwards to Rudolf Bultmann, 2012)—William Baird continues his insightful, balanced, and accessible survey of the major developments in New Testament scholarship. Volume 3 charts the dramatic discoveries and breakthroughs in method and approach that characterized the mid- and late twentieth century. Baird gives attention to the biographical and cultural setting of persons and approaches, affording both beginning student and seasoned scholar an authoritative account of the evolution of historical-critical study of the New Testament.

The first two volumes were fantastic.  Looking forward to this very much (and have been since Dec 3 when it was first announced).

The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament

The preface of volume one states

The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (EDNT) is a translation of the Exegetisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament (EWNT) and seeks to meet a broad range of needs of the student, pastor, and scholar. It is a complete English dictionary of New Testament Greek that includes definitions of every word appearing in the New Testament, a guide to the usage in different New Testament literary and theological contexts of every significant New Testament word, a systematic summation of the results of recent exegetical study of the New Testament, and a valuable source of bibliographical data for New Testament exegesis and theology.

The three volumes which comprise the dictionary were published in 1990 by Eerdmans and in spite of the fact that it is now over 20 years old it remains an absolutely invaluable resource.  Logos has an electronic edition which replicates the print edition and which is, consequently, extremely easy to search and utilize.

The Preface to volume three specifies the intention of the edition-

EDNT is not a “theological dictionary,” but proceeds rather from an “exegesis” of the words in their contexts, it is certainly no less theologically oriented. But unlike the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, it covers all the words of the Greek New Testament (including the most important textual variants) and all proper names. And comparison with other dictionaries treating the entire New Testament vocabulary throws the theological orientation of EDNT into sharp relief: Wherever it has been appropriate, key words are treated in the context of individual writings or groups of writings. In this way the contours of the different New Testament “theologies” can be seen clearly.

It is- for that reason – more complete than the three volume edition of Spicq and in many ways more useful than TDNT (which in too many instances manifests incredibly outdated lexical material as well as ideologically driven entries).

Searches, as I suggested, are simplified in the electronic edition.  Here’s a screenshot of the table of contents with the page open to the entry on αμαρτια:

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Here’s a sample entry:
ἰδιώτης, ου, ὁ   idiōtēs   layperson, uneducated person

Lit.: BILLERBECK III, 454–56. — H. SCHLIER, TDNT III, 215–17. — SPICQ, Notes I, 384–86.

1. In Greek usage ἰδιώτης means both “private person” in contrast to public officials, and “stranger” in contrast to members of the group or local persons. Although the word does not appear in the LXX, it was taken over as a loanword with the same meaning in the rabbinic literature: heḏeyôṭ can thus designate a human being in contrast to the deity. The meaning is determined concretely by its context or by the contrast that is made. In the NT the Greek word appears 5 times, of which 3 are in 1 Corinthians 14 (vv. 16, 23, and 24).

2. In Acts 4:13 the apostles are called ἄνθρωποι ἀγράμματοι καὶ ἰδιῶται (Hippolytus Philos. ix.11.1 uses the same phrase): they are uneducated and are not scribes. Similarly, Paul calls himself ἰδιώτης τῷ λόγῳ in 2 Cor 11:6. His intent is not to describe himself as generally uneducated, but rather to emphasize οὐ τῇ γνώσει. Thus the phrase is to be translated “unversed in speaking” (cf. Hippolytus Philos. viii.18: ἰδιῶται τὴν γνῶσιν; similarly Justin Apol. i.39.3; in 60.11 parallel to βάρβαροι).

In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul uses the term in reference to untranslated glossolalia. It is disputed whether Paul is concerned about the church member who is incapable of glossolalia or the non-Christian outsider. In v. 16 ὁ ἀναπληρῶν τὸν τόπον τοῦ ἰδιώτου might refer to a church member whose status (cf. τόπον in Acts 1:25) leaves him ignorant of glossolalia. The meaning in 14:23 is also ambiguous: “When the whole church assembles and all speak in tongues, εἰσέλθωσιν δὲ ἰδιῶται ἢ ἄπιστοι, will they not say that you are mad? But if all prophesy, εἰσέλθῃ δέ τις ἄπιστος ἢ ἰδιώτης, he is convicted by all.” Schlier (217) and Conzelmann (1 Cor [Hermeneia] 243) see no distinction between ἄπιστος and ἰδιώτης, while BAGD (s.v. 2), referring to the t.t. of religious associations, understands ἰδιώτης as a type of proselyte, a participant who is not fully a member. The parallel to βάρβαρος in Justin [see above] is also present in 1 Cor 14:11.

H.-W. Bartsch

What’s of interest here, and in all the entries included in the dictionary is the combination of thoroughness of treatment and perspicuity of presentation.  Also quite valuable indeed are the bibliographic materials which preface each entry.

Again, using the electronic edition as our example, if someone wished to find, for instance, all of the bibliographic mentions of Rudolf Karl Bultmann one could do so with haste:

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Naturally one can use the search function for Greek words or English as well.  This comes in handy should one wish to look up the name ‘Saul’ in order to verify the claim of Ben Witherington III that Saul was named Paul because “Saulos has connotations of how a prostitute walks” (by which I suppose he means that Saulos has connotations with how prostitutes perambulate).  I’ve never heard such a reason given and it really makes no sense at all.  So I wanted to check.  EDNT knows no such usage:

Σαῦλος, ου Saulos Saul
Σαούλ Saoul Saul*

Lit.: H. J. CADBURY, The Book of Acts in History (1955) 69ff. — H. CONZELMANN, Acts (Hermeneia), on 13:9. — E. HAENCHEN, Acts (Eng. tr., 1971), on 13:9. — G. A. HARRER, “Saul who also is called Paul,” HTR 33 (1940) 19–34. — K. LÖNING, Die Saulustradition in der Apostelgeschichte (NTAbh 9, 1973). — For further bibliography → Παῦλος.

1. Paul is mentioned by his Jewish name (Heb. šā’ûl) 22 times in the NT, all in Acts. 15 times the Grecized form Σαῦλος appears (all between Acts 7:58 and 13:9). 8 times the indeclinable form Σαούλ appears (all voc. and all in narrative of his conversion: 9:4 bis, 17; 22:7 bis, 13; 26:14 bis; in 26:14 with Ἑβραῒς διάλεκτος) and is to be understood as a literary archaism. Acts 13:21 mentions the first Israelite king Σαούλ, son of Kish (cf. 1 Sam 9ff.; 1 Chr 8:33; 10:1ff.; 1 Macc 4:30; 1 Clem. 4:13) and attributes to him a reign of forty years (as does Josephus Ant. vi.378; according to x.143 only twenty years).

2. The Grecized form of the name (Σαῦλος) was common in the Hellenistic age (several occurrences in Josephus) and might have been given to Paul by his parents (→ Παῦλος 2). In general Luke’s narrative first uses this form (and in Acts 22:7 D; 26:14 v.l. it replaces the archaizing form) since it would be more accessible to the Hellenistic reader (7:58; 8:1, 3; 9:1, 8, 11, 22, 24; 11:25, 30; 12:25; 13:1, 2, 7, 9; but P45 always has Σαούλ: see Harrer 24f.). Esp. the archaizing form reveals the Lukan intention of introducing Paul as a good Jew and in this way corresponds to the broader Lukan portrait of Paul.

But from Acts 13:9 (Σαῦλος δέ, ὁ καὶ Παῦλος) on Saul is referred to in narrative by his Roman name. One may assume (with Harrer) that Paul also carried the similar-sounding Roman name (perhaps as a cognomen in addition to the Jewish name as signum or supernomen) from birth (cf. his Roman citizenship: 22:28). Nonetheless, a literary agenda stands behind the change in Acts 13:9: The excellent Jew Saul becomes Paul, the missionary to the Gentiles! This agenda is cleverly worked into an episode telling about a Roman official with this name (→ Σέργιος Παῦλος; the change is not, however, to be associated with the name of the Roman proconsul; cf. Haenchen).

Can the name Saul ever have been present in pre-Lukan tradition? The only possibilities would be the baptism story in Acts 9 (according to Löning) and the reports in Acts 11:30 (the collection) and 13:1 (the list of coworkers). In the second and third of these Paul is already mentioned as an Antiochian coworker in the service of a Hellenistic mission community. The baptism story, too, as the report of the conversion of a great man, was probably related only on the basis of more extensive successes. As his letters attest, Paul was probably known only by his Roman name (→ Παῦλος 1, 2), so that one should reject the possibility of a genuine Saul tradition. In a skillful literary manner Luke has woven his own personal knowledge into the form of an illuminating and convincing portrayal.

G. Schille

Where, then, did Witherington get this weird idea?  Apparently from someone named David Capes, who makes the suggestion on his blog without so much as a single citation or source.  So, Witherington has simply adopted an unsubstantiated claim because, apparently, it sounds sensible.   But do remember, because words sound like something doesn’t mean they mean something!  In order to make such a statement Witherington, and Capes, need to offer some proof.  Such proof is absent the better Dictionaries.

So much, then, for bizarre claims- claims easily put to rest by use of an excellent Dictionary.  And that, good readers, is exactly what we have in the Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament.  Making use of such resources rescues one from the perils of making claims without substance.

If you want to avoid inaccurate exegesis, use a good exegetical dictionary.  Use THIS exegetical dictionary, either in its print form or in the electronic format.  Whatever you do, though, do use it.

Opinions and Viewpoints

Following you’ll find a list of people whose opinions matter to me and whose viewpoints I value (though not in such a way that I’m willing to slavishly follow them).  I offer said listing in response to a question I was sent on Facebook (itself responding to a posting from earlier today) .  To be precise the question was

If you don’t care about McGrath’s opinion, whose do you care about?

An excellent question.  I answer- the opinions of these:

God, my wife and daughter, my father-in-law and mother in-law, Bob Cargill, Chris Tilling, Israel Finkelstein, Antonio Lombatti, Giovanni Garbini, Niels Peter Lemche, Thomas Thompson, James Crossley, Maurice Casey, Steph Fisher, Philip Davies, and Keith Whitelam.  And that’s pretty much it.

The persons whose viewpoints I value (aside from the above who are all alive whilst these are dead) :

Rudolf Bultmann, Gerhard von Rad, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Johannes Oecolampadius, and Huldrych Zwingli.

To be sure, I value the opinions and viewpoints of others, but when it comes right down to it and everything is boiled to the essentials, these are the core group.  If you didn’t make the list don’t feel too bad.  First, you probably don’t care about my opinion anyway (so you can’t really be too hurt).  And second, you’re in the majority if your opinion isn’t all that important to me.  So there’s that.

Opinions and viewpoints.  If we’re all honest (a virtue virtually abandoned these days) we would all admit that some people mean more to us than others.

That’s O.K. With Me

James McGrath doesn’t understand me (he says).  I’ll respond briefly to his confusion (and to the confusion of all those others out there who don’t understand me) –  that’s o.k. with me.  I can live with it.

Years ago (doubtless unknown to far too many who fancy themselves biblical scholars) Karl Barth wrote a booklet titled Rudolf Bultmann: ein Versuch, ihn zu verstehen. Barth didn’t ‘get’ Bultmann in the same way that Luther didn’t ‘get’ Zwingli. My point is not to compare McGrath to Barth or Luther (heaven forfend!) but simply to point out that Christianity has a great history of people who don’t understand others. And it’s o.k.

In the words of Donna Summer – I will survive…

Why I Still Love Bob Cargill

Robert and I don’t see eye to eye on the gay marriage question.  I think that’s plain and clear to anyone and everyone who reads our blogs (and let’s face it, that’s everyone who is anyone).

In spite of our disagreement, though, for my part, affection remains undiminished.  Bob is the brightest young scholar in the fields of DSS studies and Archaeology (as well as digital technology) known to me in person or by reputation.  his work is astonishingly good and I would put him in the same league, intellectually, as Emil Brunner, Karl Barth, Gerhard von Rad, and Rudolf Bultmann.  Of course, he’s no Zwingli, but who really is besides Zwingli himself?

I mention my unwavering admiration because I’ve gotten a couple of snarky emails from persons who think I should take my views to what they call their ultimate conclusion and cut all ties to Bob.  That, slack jawed mouth breathers, I refuse to do.  Some of us are adults and some of us are able to agree that when we disagree nothing changes.

So endeth my public declaration.


It’s The Anniversary of Ernst Käsemann’s Birth

On 12 July, 1906 the inestimable E.Käsemann was born.  He wrote a lot!  A LOT!  He was productive, and brilliant, and gifted, and personable, and warm, and generous with his time, and conversational, and of course, controversial.

Käsemann was – as all should know – the (yes, the, not simply ‘a’) student of Rudolf Bultmann.  But in good German fashion he broke with his teacher over several issues, most noticeably on the question of the historical Jesus.

He also grew ever more annoyed about the state of New Testament scholarship and the influence of ‘fad’ methodologies and he really, really let fly in one of his last essays published in Evangelische Theologie (2/92) in an essay simply titled ‘Protest!’ (concerned chiefly with an earlier essay by Seim on Jewish exegesis of the New Testament).

In his remembrance Wille notes that K. also endured his fair share of tragedy-

Von Politik, von Gewaltpolitik war er und seine Familie ganz persönlich betroffen: 1977 wurde seine einzige Tochter Elisabeth von der argentinischen Militärjunta ermordet. Die politischen, auch die persönlich leidvollen Erfahrungen seines Lebens haben in seinem theologischen Denken Spuren hinterlassen. Das macht seine Theologie unverwechselbar und  glaubwürdig.  Am 17. Februar 1998 ist Ernst Käsemann gestorben. Seine Theologie war anstößig  – anstößig um der Wahrheit, der heilsamen Wahrheit des Evangeliums willen. So zeigt sie bis heute noch Wirkung.

Truly, K’s work was and is “unverwechselbar und  glaubwürdig”.

I had the privilege of corresponding with the great man shortly before his death.  Unfortunately the only letter I’ve been able to find from his is this one, his last to me:

Another Reason to Hate Amazon.com

They don’t even know how to spell Bultmann’s first name! Imbeciles. It’s Rudolf, not Rudolph, you filthy money grubbing greedy destroy all competition with unethical bribes aimed at the similarly greedy and short sighted louts!


… has anyone here ever heard of “Rudolph” Bultmann before? No. Me neither. But apparently Amazon are publishing his books, including Jesus Christ and Mythology, Primitive Christianity, and a two-volume Theology of the New Testament. Must be a plagiarising relative of the famous Rudolf Bultmann.

Dull minded uneducated drooling swine of the Amazon.  Here’s your sign!

Tilling on Bultmann on History

Chris writes

Bultmann’s essay, “Is Exegesis Without Presuppositions Possible?” is a very helpful essay for understanding Bultmann’s theology. You might imagine that the title question has one obvious response: “Of course not!”, but our man Bulty makes things much more interesting than that! I have been thinking on one point he makes at the beginning:

“Historical method includes the presupposition that history is a unity in the sense of a closed continuum in which individual events are connected by the succession of cause and effect”. What do you think of that? To me there seems to be so many questionable assumptions even in this one sentence that it made me realise that writing a history needs to appreciate the history of the writing of history!

Look at the rest.

It’s Not Rudolph, It’s Rudolf

One would expect a scholar of Webster’s caliber to know that.  Alas, however, he doesn’t seem to.

Still, many thanks to Chris Tilling for pointing out the book, which introduces those unfamiliar with Bultmann to his work and thought.  Nevertheless, as we always need to say, it’s best to READ BULTMANN rather than ABOUT Bultmann.  But reading about him is fun too.

Confessing the Sin of Authorship

Thomas C. Oden’s Systematic Theology is just so engaging, especially when he writes about such things as the ‘sin of authorship’ (vol 2, p. 217) and apologizes for writing so much when just at this juncture he has to take a side-path to discuss the historical-critical method and in particular his lifelong engagement with Rudolf Bultmann.  And that in an excursus called A Personal Interlude: A Path toward Postcritical Consciousness.

This excursus is itself followed by a section called Implausible Pretensions of the Critical Study of Jesus (pp. 220ff) which each and every person engaged in the so called ‘quest of the Historical Jesus’ should be required, yes required to read.

Anyway, I’m back to it.  Just wanted to drop a word of commendation.

R. C. Sproul vs. Rudolf Bultmann (via Scotteriology)

Clearly Bultmann is victorious. And correct. Sproul, eh, not so much.  The Bible isn’t a science text book and those who take it as such twist its meaning into unnatural shapes and the distortions born from those unnatural shapes are wretched beasts neither true nor valuable.

In promoting his new book Unseen Realities: Heaven, Hell, Angels and Demons, R. C. Sproul claims, “”I believe that if we are to be consistent Christians, believing all of the Bible rather than portions of it, we must recognize that the supernatural places and beings described on its pages are real. There is an uncompromised supernaturalism at the heart of the Christian worldview, and we must not let the world’s skepticism with regard to these thi … Read More

via Scotteriology

It’s So Very, Very Impressive

I continue to be amazed by Hahn’s NT Theologie.  I just find myself referring to it at least once a week.  If you’ve not picked up a copy, you really ought to.  Really.  There’s been no finer written, as I said before, since Bultmann.