New Testament and Mythology and Other Basic Writings

New Testament and Mythology and Other Basic Writings

New Testament and Mythology and Other Basic Writings

New Testament and Mythology and Other Basic Writings

Excerpt

In venturing to call the essays selected for this volume “basic writings” of Rudolf Bultmann, I cannot but recall his reaction to another editor's claim about his work. With evident feeling, he assured Karl Barth that he was not responsible for the title given to his comprehensive reply to his critics of 1952 (in this volume pp. 95–130) in issuing it as “Bultmann's definitive position.” I should like to think, of course, that he would be much more inclined to approve of the title that I have chosen for this translation. But the fact remains that he was not responsible for it either, and that mine is the task of justifying its choice.

In the case of the title essay, this is not hard to do. Aside from the fact that it is perhaps the single most discussed and controversial theological writing of the century, no one knowledgeable of Bultmann's work could doubt its basic importance for his entire contribution. Although the position for which it argues was hardly new, having already taken shape in several of his theological essays written during the 1920s, it is nevertheless the classic formulation of this position and as such incomparable in the Bultmannian corpus. This implies, naturally, that Bultmann was, above all, a Christian theologian who did all of his work even as historian and exegete in the service of the church and its witness of faith. But, again, anyone acquainted with the man and his work knows it all to have been done out of just such a self-understanding and, therefore, to have had its basis in the kind of systematic theology for which “New Testament and Mythology” uniquely formulates the program.

B. Jaspert, ed., Karl Barth-Rudolf Bultmann Briefwechsel 1922–1966 (1971), 169.

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