Friday, February 29, 2008

If the Apostle Paul met Bultmann

Robert Morgan in his excellent book, The Nature of New Testament Theology (featuring essays by Wrede and Schlatter) includes this hypothetical conversation between the Apostle Paul and Rudolf Bultmann (pp. 49-50):

Bultmann, having critically divested Paul of his futurist eschatology, says to Paul, "You were wrong about the future, of course, but on the whole I agree with what you taught about God and man. Though I am doing Christian theology as I interpret your epistles. I am actually a historian and I claim that my interpretation is historically true even though it is a critical one, removing the egg-shells of traditional futurist eschatology which you did not realize were inessential to your position." Now Paul might reply: " Well, actually, I was wrong about the date of the parousia, and you are right to look for ways of getting around that, so that you can continue to take my witness seriously. I agree, too, that what I taught about God and man remains valid regardless of the date of the parousia; so if your account of my theology ignores my abberation it may still be true to the substance of what I was saying. Unfortunately, however, you have thrown out some of the baby with the bath water. You have misunderstood me in making me say the samething as your hero John, who did not accept any future perspective. I disagree with that heresy and approve of the ecclesiastical redactor who made John acceptable. The truth is that Kasemann, Moltmann and Co. have understood me better than you, though of course they owe more to you than to anyone else since brother Martin!"

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