Rudolf Bultmann

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A blind acceptance of New Testament mythology would be simply arbitrariness; to make such acceptance a demand of faith would be to reduce faith to a work.
We cannot use electric lights and radios and, in the event of illness, avail ourselves of modern medical and clinical means and at the same time believe in the spirit and wonder world of the New Testament.
The mythology of the New Testament, also, is not to be questioned with respect to the content of its objectifying representations but with respect to the understanding of existence that expresses itself in them.

Rudolf Karl Bultmann (20 August 188430 July 1976) was a German theologian of Lutheran background, who was for three decades professor of New Testament studies at the University of Marburg.

Quotes[edit]

New Testament and Mythology and Other Basic Writings (1984)[edit]

  • Contemporary Christian proclamation is faced with the question whether, when it demands faith from men and women, it expects them to acknowledge this mythical world picture from the past. If this is impossible, it has to face the question whether the New Testament proclamation has a truth that is independent of the mythical world picture, in which case it would be the task of theology to demythologize the Christian proclamation.
    • p. 3
  • Can the Christian proclamation today expect men and women to acknowledge the mythical world picture as true? To do so would be both pointless and impossible. It would be pointless because there is nothing specifically Christian about the mythical world picture, which is simply the world picture of a time now past which was not yet formed by scientific thinking. It would be impossible because no one can appropriate a world picture by sheer resolve, since it is already given with one’s historical situation.
    • p. 3
  • It is impossible to repristinate a past world picture by sheer resolve, especially a mythical world picture, now that all of our thinking is irrevocably formed by science. A blind acceptance of New Testament mythology would be simply arbitrariness; to make such acceptance a demand of faith would be to reduce faith to a work.
    • p. 3
  • Man kann nicht elektrisches Licht und Radioapparat benutzen, in Krankheitsfällen moderne medizinische und klinische Mittel in Anspruch nehmen und gleichzeitig an die Geister-und Wunderwelt des Neuen Testaments glauben.
    • We cannot use electric lights and radios and, in the event of illness, avail ourselves of modern medical and clinical means and at the same time believe in the spirit and wonder world of the New Testament.
      • p. 4
  • Myth does not want to be interpreted in cosmological terms but in anthropological terms—or, better, in existentialist terms.
    • p. 9
  • The mythology of the New Testament, also, is not to be questioned with respect to the content of its objectifying representations but with respect to the understanding of existence that expresses itself in them.
    • p. 10
  • Christian life is not realized in developing the personality or in shaping human community and somehow changing the world but in turning away from the world and becoming free of it.
    • p. 13
  • Kann es eine entmythologisierende Interpretation geben, die die Wahrheit des Kerygmas als Kerygmas für den nicht mythologisch denkenden Menschen aufdeckt?
    • Can there be a demythologizing interpretation that discloses the truth of the kerygma as kerygma for those who do not think mythologically?
      • p. 14
  • But what is meant by “flesh” (σάρξ)? It is not what is corporal or sensual but rather the whole sphere of what is visible, available, disposable, and measurable, and as such the sphere of what is transient. This sphere becomes a power over us insofar as we make it the foundation of our lives by living “according to it,” that is, by succumbing to the temptation to live out of what is visible and disposable instead of out of what is invisible and nondisposable—regardless of whether we give ourselves to the alluring possibilities of such a life imprudently and with desire or whether we lead our lives reflectively and with calculation on the basis of our own accomplishments, “the works of the law.” “Flesh” embraces not only material things but also all of our creating and accomplishing insofar as it is concerned with achieving something demonstrable such as fulfilling the demands of the law (Gal. 3:3); to “flesh” belongs every achieved quality and every advantage that we can have within the sphere of what can be seen and disposed of (Phil. 3:4ff.).
    • p. 16
  • Freedom from the world is, in principle, not asceticism, but rather a distance from the world for which all participation in things worldly takes place in the attitude of “as if not.” (1 Cor. 7:29-31)
    • p. 18

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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