The Old Testament and Christian Faith: A Theological Discussion

By Bernhard W. Anderson | Go to book overview

1 The Significance of the Old Testament for the Christian Faith

RUDOLF BULTMANN*


I

The question about the relation of the New Testament to the Old can be asked in such a manner that the Old and New Testaments are considered as sources for reconstructing the religion of Israel and the religion of primitive Christianity and for inquiring into the relation between the two religions. In this case, the general concept of religion as an historical phenomenon determines both the question and the comparison of the two religions, and their relationship is understood in terms of historical develop-ment.1The idea of development does not necessarily have to be combined with the idea of progress. The result of the developmental process may be regarded, to some degree or other, as a manifestation of decadence. From a Jewish standpoint, for instance, primitive Christianity, and particularly Pauline religion

____________________
*
Translated by Bernhard W. Anderson.
1
It is a simple development in so far as both religions stand in historical continuity. To the degree that this is not the case, that is to say, in so far as the phenomenon of primitive Christianity cannot be understood as a stage in the unfolding development of Old Testament religion, extraneous influences from the Orient and from Greek tradition are invoked. The complex phenomenon of primitive Christianity then appears as the result of the whole ancient history of religion in which the Old Testament is only one, albeit an essential, factor.

-8-

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