Friday, May 12, 2006

Käsemann Vs. Bultmann

In my crazed book buying spree mentioned in the last post, I also found a dirt cheap copy of Ernst Käsemann’s Paulinische Perspektiven (Tübingen: Mohr, 1969) – one, being a Paul man, I was really pleased about. I’ve already gone over his ‘Zur paulinischen Anthropologie’ (chapter one) for my exegesis of a couple of passages in 1 Cor 6.

This is the chapter where Käsemann developed his famous argument against Bultmann’s understanding of soma (body). Bultmann thought soma represented the human ‘sofern er sich selbst als Objekt seines Verhaltens gegenständlich ist, sofern er sich von selbst distanzieren und unter die Herrschaft fremder Mächte geraten kann’ (Theology of NT, 1.200, 203). Käsemann counters in claiming that ‘Leiblichkeit sei das Wesen des Menschen in seiner Notwendigkeit, am Kreatürlichen zu partizipieren, und in seiner Fähigkeit zur Kommunikation im weitesten Sinne, nämlich seiner Bezogenheit auf eine ihm jeweils vorgegebene Welt’.

This may all sound like a small exegetical aside, a petty squable, but it needs to be remembered that Bultmann’s entire programme was heavily grounded in an anthropological study of Paul (see, e.g., the contents page of his Theology of the NT), because he insisted that God or the world or whatever couldn’t be spoken of as 'out there' without also saying something at the same time about humans – his famous line: ‘Jeder Satz über Gott ist zugleich ein Satz über den Menschen und umgekehrt’.

Käsemann, as at least modern exegetes like to think, resoundingly won this argument! He writes with such energy that it is easy to get carried along by his rhetoric and not pay attention to his actual arguments! I bet he was storming preacher.

Anyway, I think I'll try to finish off my review/summary of Küng's Der Anfang aller Dinge this weekend, and by doing so introduce my next small series on the questions of intelligent design, creation and evolution. I'm off to read a bit of Moltmann.


At 5/12/2006 1:35 AM, Anonymous Shane Clifton said...

whatever critiques can be made of moltmann's theology - reading his books reminds me why i love theology. At times, his writing is almost like poetry. My favourite moltmann quote is from Spirit of life:
Every life that is born wants to grow. When someone is born we talk about their birthday. Life begins, the senses awaken. The child opens its eyes and sees the light. It begins to breath, and feels the air. It cries and hears the sounds. It lies beside its mother and feels the warmth of her skin. The life we say has been ‘born again’ or ‘born anew’ from God’s eternal Spirit also wants to grow, and to arrive at its proper form … Our senses are born again too. The enlightened eyes of the understanding wake to the awareness of God, to the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. In the dictates of life the liberated will explores its new energies. The beating heart experiences God’s love, is warmed by it into love for life, and comes alive from its source. The experience of God’s Spirit is like breathing the air: ‘God is continually breathing, as it were, upon the soul, and the soul is breathing unto God’. God’s Spirit is life’s vibrating, vitalising field of energy: we are in God, and God is in us. Our stirrings towards life are experienced by God, and we experience God’s living energies. In the open air of the eternal Spirit, the new life unfurls. In the confidence of faith we plumb the depths of the Spirit, in love we explore its breadth, and in hope its open horizons. God’s Spirit is our space for living.

And some people think theologians are boring!! (sorry its long - and not in german)

At 5/12/2006 1:37 AM, Anonymous Shane Clifton said...

Sorry chris - above post should have attached itself to previous post. I am still knew at those. Move or delete it as you wish.

At 5/12/2006 4:07 AM, Anonymous J. B. Hood said...

You realize Jim West is going to ask for his books back...either that or he'll send you some more!

At 5/12/2006 10:19 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Shane,
That is a delightful text! I find myself in worship and adoration when I read things like that. Boring it isn't!

Hi JB,
ALL MINE. HANDS OFF! Though I sense some anti-Käsemann tracts coming my way now.

At 5/12/2006 10:29 AM, Anonymous Volker said...

Hi Shane,
thanks for that lovely quote from Moltmann. I am currently doing my exegesis of 2 Cor. 3:18 (from the perspective of pneumatology) and I can see quite a number of similarites between my exegesis and Moltmann's more poetic unfolding of life in the Spirit. What page number is that?


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