Sunday, August 08, 2010

Ernst Kasemann on Discipleship

I think it was N.T. Wright who said that he if he had to be stranded on a desert island with one NT exegete, it would have been Ernst Kasemann. I've always been ambivalent about Kasemann since I've loved his apocalyptic approach to Paul, but never found him all that convincing on Gospels or pre-Pauline stuff. His work on the "righteousness of God" and the necessity of study of the historical Jesus was crucial in its day, but I never found him convincing on what he had wrote about Christian prophets who speak in the name of the risen Lord or his take on the origin of Col. 1.15-20. Though I can proudly say that my doktorvater's doktorvater's doktorvater was none other that Kasemann himself (whom I affectionately call "The Cheeseman" to students).

What is necessary reading, however, is the newly released book On Being a Disciple of the Crucified Nazarene (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010). Let me say that the opening saying, largely biographical, is worth the price of the book. I was amazed to learn that one of the strongest influences on Kasemann was his Lutheran youth pastor Wilhelm Weigle! Here are a few gem quotes from the opening essay:

"It is not enough to demythologize texts with Bultmann. Before doing such, the world and human beings need to be demytholoigzed, in, say, their self-mastery, their ideology, and the religious superstition to which they have surrendered. This takes place in the power of the gospel. This power streamed forth from Weigle. I will never forget his funeral."

"The Christian must always confess the Lord where idols rule on earth, whether under the sign of lust for power, or superstition, or of Mammon. From the Christian point of view, the first commandment is personified in Christ, It is this solus Christus that separates the gospel from all religions and worldviews, often even from a bourgeois or proletarian Christianity."

"As a last word and as my bequest, let me call to you in Huguenot style: 'Resistez!' Discipleship of the Crucified leads necessarily to resistance to idolatry on every front. This resistance is and must be the most important mark of Christian freedom."


Paul said...

What is the book like? Is it exegesis, a collection of sermons...?

Justin said...


This is interesting, especially coming from the guy who referred to the imitation of Christ as "ethical idealism" in his famous analysis of Philippians 2:5-11. Does Kasemann discuss imitatio Christi in the book?

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