Oscar Cullmann

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Oscar Cullmann (25 February 1902, Strasbourg - 16 January 1999, Chamonix) was a Christian theologian in the Lutheran tradition. He is best known for his work in the ecumenical movement, being in part responsible for the establishment of dialogue between the Lutheran and Roman Catholic traditions. Because of his intense ecumenical work, Cullmann's Basel colleague Karl Barth joked with him that his tombstone would bear the inscription "advisor to three popes." He was invited to be an observer at the Second Vatican Council.


  • The complex notion of the ‘provisional’ character of the State is the reason why the attitude of the first Christians toward the State is not unitary, but rather appears to be contradictory. I emphasize, that it appears to be so. We need only mention Romans 13:1, ‘Let every man be subject to the powers that be . . . ,’ alongside Revelation 13: the State as the beast from the abyss.
    • Professor Oscar Cullmann in his book The State in the New Testament.
  • For the Greeks who believed in the immortality of the soul it may have been harder to accept the Christian preaching of the resurrection than it was for others. . . . The teaching of the great philosophers Socrates and Plato can in no way be brought into consonance [agreement] with that of the New Testament.
    • The Watchtower magazine, 7/1 1998.
  • Plato shows us how Socrates goes to his death in complete peace and composure. The death of Socrates is a beautiful death. Nothing is seen here of death’s terror. Socrates cannot fear death, since indeed it sets us free from the body. . . . Death is the soul’s great friend. So he teaches; and so, in wonderful harmony with his teaching, he dies.
    • A Better Hope for the Soul, The Watchtower magazine, 8/1 1996.
  • Because Jesus came, died, and was resurrected, O[ld] T[estament] festivals have now been fulfilled, and to maintain them ‘means reverting back to the old covenant, as if Christ had never come.
    • In the contemporary Vocabulaire biblique, Protestant theologian Oscar Cullmann is quoted as admitting that.
  • There is a radical difference between the Christian expectation of the resurrection of the dead and the Greek belief in the immortality of the soul. . . . Although Christianity later established a link between these two beliefs, and today the average Christian confuses them completely, I see no reason to hide what I and the majority of scholars consider to be the truth. . . . The life and thought of the New Testament are entirely dominated by faith in the resurrection. . . . The whole man, who is really dead, is brought back to life by a new creative act of God.
    • In the book Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection of the Dead?

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