Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Encountering Bultmann - a personal account (Pt 3/3)

Here is a passage I read this evening, and one that has caused pause for real thought:

‘Thinking of the “judgement seat of Christ” before which we must all be arraigned (II Cor. 5:10), Paul says: “knowing the fear of the Lord …” (v. 11). This sentence runs parallel [a typical exegetical manoeuvre of Bultmann’s] with “since we have such a hope” (3:12), demonstrating the unity of “hope” and “fear”’ (1.321).

I find this simply astonishing! In one breath Paul can speak of ‘fear’, and in the next ‘hope’. Actually, this dovetails somewhat with my own suspicion, that the subjects of ‘judgment according to works’, ‘reward’ and ‘hope’ are amongst the most necessary to include in future discussion on ‘justification’. But elaboration on this will have to await the third in my series on ‘Assessing Criticisms of the New Perspective’, to be posted in the not-too-distant future.

Well, that’s something of my personal encounter with Bultmann. How do you assess him?


At 1/18/2006 3:32 AM, Anonymous Ben Myers said...

Great series, Chris. As you know, I love and admire Bultmann -- for me, he stands (with Karl Barth) as one of the two great Christian thinkers of the century.

I agree, too, that he is an eminently "preachable" scholar. His great commentary on John is especially valuable for preaching.

Even though we shouldn't just agree uncritically with Bultmann, it's a real crime when people think they can criticise him without having taken the trouble to read him.

At 1/18/2006 3:47 AM, Anonymous Jim said...

He is without peer. Period. The only theologian of greater significance to me is - well- you know what's coming - Zwingli.

At 1/18/2006 5:40 AM, Anonymous T.B. Vick said...

Chris, are you familiar with Eta Linnemann? She spoke at my Seminary when I was there on a topic that was, at the time, way over my head . . . anyway she was a student of Bultmann's and has said some pretty harsh things about him. . . I was curious if you had heard of her and if so what do you know about her?

At 1/18/2006 1:12 PM, Anonymous Jim said...

I heard her when she lectured at SEBTS while I was there. She was filled with bile for her teachers, including Bultmann. She refused to take any questions, suggested that she alone were right, and everyone else was wrong, and would not even consider dialogue. I found her perfectly reprehensible and a poor example of Christianity.

At 1/18/2006 3:47 PM, Anonymous T.B. Vick said...


Well, I can remember her being very much anti-Bultmann, she actually did take questions, but the only people who asked questions were our profs.

The one thing I remember her saying though, and this stuck with me after all these years (and of course I disagreed with her), she said that most if not all commentaries published today were wrong or did not understand the biblical text the way it should be understood.

I thought that was a bit over the top. . . she stressed that any Amrican scholar (i.e. Douglas Moo, etc.) had "bad" commentaries. Hmmm. . . that seemed a bit extreme.

At 1/18/2006 5:37 PM, Anonymous Jim said...

She struck me as an over the top nutcase. She burned all her books before she took off to teach in a mission school in Indonesia. Yes, she burned her own "pre-conversion" books, all her Bultmann, and everything else. I was simultaneously outraged and befuddled by her. Something snapped in her brain I think.

At 1/19/2006 1:19 AM, Anonymous Ben Myers said...

"Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven; but the burning of one's books shall never be forgiven."

At 1/19/2006 4:29 AM, Anonymous T.B. Vick said...

"Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven; but the burning of one's books shall never be forgiven."

Who said that, Ben?

At 1/19/2006 5:14 AM, Anonymous Ben Myers said...

Sorry, it wasn't a real quote: just my own cheeky modification of one of Jesus' sayings.


At 1/19/2006 7:44 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

I'd never heard of Linnemann, so I did a bit of research and found this on the web.

"As a theologian, I was steeped in historical-criticism. If the Lord had not taken me out of it, I would still be in it" she says.

Again, "The god of historical critical theology is like the statue of three monkeys: one is covering the eyes, the next covering the ears, and the third covering the mouth—seeing nothing, hearing nothing, speaking nothing—and as the hands are always occupied, doing nothing. But now I became aware of the living God!". I find this so bizarre I've gone and ordered one of her (recent!) books from the library - I know, too much time on my hands!

At 1/19/2006 8:10 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

I haven't gone through Bultmann's commentary on John. I seem to remember reading somewhere, I think on Jim's blog, that its a must if you want to understand Bultmann.

I have found a second hand copy in a local 2nd hand shop, but its in the 'old German' script, and that 'does my head in' a bit. And it stinks of mildew. Still tempted though.

I feel I have a lot to learn from Bultmann, and I’m sort of running with a kind of re-worked version of existentialism in my doctorate. Based on his ‘preliminary remarks’ to his Man Prior to the Revelation of Faith section of Theology of the New Testament, I suggested in my first ever publicly delivered paper (in a rather conservative institute I might add), that I wanted to resurrect something of Bultmann’s programme to help us keep Paul’s feelings, piety and theology together.

However, the reason why he isn’t my favourite theologian (‘without peer’) is because of his take on the resurrection (I’m looking forward to Ben’s promised posts on this …). The physical and historical resurrection of Christ is something, for me, far too important to interpret only in kerygmatic terms. The proclamation of Christ risen holds water kerygmatically because of the historical event. To me, it would matter if Jesus’ bones would be found.

At 1/19/2006 3:22 PM, Anonymous T.B. Vick said...

Chris said:
"I have found a second hand copy in a local 2nd hand shop, but its in the 'old German' script, and that 'does my head in' a bit. And it stinks of mildew. Still tempted though."

Be careful of moldy/mildewed books because they will infect your entire library one book at a time - no joke, it spreads like a disease. . . you couls always try hunting a copy down at (the largest used book search engine on the internet)

At 1/19/2006 4:19 PM, Anonymous T.B. Vick said...


If any of you guys decide to burn your books, please call me first, I'll be more than happy to take them off of your hands!


At 7/25/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Jon said...

I stumbled upon your blog via a google search for caragounis, and I noticed Bultmann on the sidebar. Thank you for bringing the faith of Bultmann to the fore. I have found him, in addition to other vilified European scholars, to be a great boon to my objectivity in approaching the Bible and the Gospel. Those of us saturated in fundamentalist/evangelical caveats from the very start are well-equipped to read Bultmann critically. I only hope that more American evangelicals begin to see what a great NT scholar Bultmann was. (We would suggest that Dibelius, Culmann, and others are of value as well).


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