A talk on Bultmann
I've just started preparing for a shortish (1hr) talk on Rudolf Bultmann, for a series entitled "theologians you should know about" at the HTB church week away. So, things of course have to remain pretty basic, but here is the basic outline and the intro I've just dictated. Let me know if you think I'm missing anything important, as I don't have all of my Bultmann books around me at the moment.
In many ways, Bultmann has become a figure that many modern theologians love to hate. His understanding of Paul's language of "works of law" seems erroneously to suggest that Judaism is a religion of legalism. His close association with existentialist philosophy has been criticised not only for co-opting the task of theology into a modern, and now dated, philosophical discourse, but also because of the resultant and unhealthy individualism. As we shall see shortly, he was one of the founders of what became known as "form criticism", an approach to reading the Gospels that has fallen out of favour in many circles. What is more, his views about the nature of miracles, and particularly the resurrection of Jesus, have labelled him a heretic. So why on earth is Rudolf Bultmann included in a list of "theologians you should know about"? To answer this question, and to clear up some misunderstandings regarding his theology, I will first summarise the theological, intellectual and political context out of which he grew. This will help us to better grasp his most important contributions, and particularly those that arguably remain of abiding significance.
- Liberal theology
- The philosophy of Heidegger
- Dialectical theology
Key aspects of Bultmann's theology
- The nature of faith
- The historical Jesus
- The apostle Paul
- John's gospel
Remaining problems with Bultmann's theology
What have we got to learn from Bultmann?