Musing on New Testament Studies

Musing on New Testament Studies July 26, 2014

One of the more disheartening elements of a veteran New Testament professor is the routine encounter with younger New Testament scholars and professors who have not read those who shaped my mind when I was their age. Too many, for instance, know about the scholars — and can be quite critical of them — but have not read them. Thus, I think of A.M. Hunter, T.W. Manson, J. Jeremias, O. Michel, E.P. Sanders, as well as Rudolf Bultmann, Günther Bornkann, Oscar Cullmann, or G.B. Caird. In the 70s and 80s these scholars were those with whom one had to interact. (The same, no doubt, will be the case in 15-25 years with the giants of our day, including J.D.G. Dunn and N.T. Wright.)

One whose work influenced two whole generations of scholars, from the 1920s through the 1970s was Rudolf Bultmann, professor at Marburg all those years (including the war years). A biography of Bultmann was published not long ago and is worth reading. I blogged about the biography here.

Baylor University Press has a new book out called Beyond Bultmann: Reckoning a New Testament Theology, edited by Bruce Longenecker and Mickeal Parsons. It is a fresh assessment of Bultmann’s magisterial New Testament Theology, and gives to some important scholars of our day an assignment to read and assess Bultmann’s theology.

For instance, Kavin Rowe examines Bultmann’s understanding of the kerygma, Richard Hays studies Bultmann’s understanding of the human prior to the revelation of faith, John Barclay takes on humanity under faith, Richard Bauckham examines the dualism and soteriology in John’s theology (as understood by Bultmann), Jimmy Dunn looks at Bultmann’s development of doctrine and Larry Hurtado sketches the christology and soteriology of Bultmann. Two synthetic essays on Bultmann’s theology in context (by Angela Standhartinger) and his theological interpretation of Scripture (Francis Watson) cap off (or introduce) the volume. I didn’t mention all of the essays, but this is a taste of a mighty interesting volume.

Do people read Bultmann anymore? Should they?

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