Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A New York geography for the BoM

An old friend of mine, specialist in Indian languages, pointed me to this map comparison from a book by Verne Holley,  unfortunately out of print, which suggests that Joseph Smith Jr tried to write the local history during the American Antiquities of the area he grew up in.

The alignment of the names is quite fascinating; I suspect that Joseph Smith Jr must have felt like a linguistics scholar when decoding how the names had changed over time.

"Uncle" Dean Broadhurst now hosts the third edition of Holley's work from 1998, where the Spalding manuscript theory is used as the basis of the discussion that Holley pursues.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Augmented Salvation History Feedback

In my discussion with my PhD advisor WW regarding the proposed theological chapter, WW pointed out that salvation history needs to be conceptualized as an eschatological event that has a telos, but no architecture that can be described. The realization of that eschatological event is within the world and is also within the believer, and takes place in the hic et nunc. This context of edification (oikodome) however cannot be integrated into World History, though the experience of the individual is capable of criticising World History and vice versa.

I have been able to reproduce almost the entirety of that argument from the discussion of Rudolf Bultmann with his colleagues in the after-math of his Entmythologisierungsaufsatz; cf. my recent series on demythologizing (Part 1,  Reply section in Part 2Part 6).

Bultmann famously combines crucifixion and resurrection into a single eschatological event, which is the only proper element of a salvation history. A salvation history of one event is however such a degenerate case that any potential architecture of salvation history is lost, but the telos of salvation in history remains. Because the individual encounters the risen Christ in the kerygma of the congregation, this is both in the world and private to the believer. Especially in his reply to Schumann (p.200) Bultmann emphasizes both this hic et nunc, as well as reminds the reader that the individual events do not permit objective historical verification (p.205). This in consequence means that the integration into World History will not succeed, which requires such objective historical verification.

Demythologizing Debate---Part 6: Bultmann's Reactions

This post continues our series on demythologizing by giving Bultmann, whose essay was the first part, a chance to respond to his German critics: Lohmeyer, SchniewindThielicke, Schumann.

Bultmann's Reaction

... it is important to remember that every interpretation is actuated by the framing of specific questions, and without this there could be no interpretation at all. Of course, these questions need not be frame explicitly or consciously, but unless they are framed the texts have nothing to say to us. (p.191).
Bultmann believes that "the question of human existence" is the right way  to frame Biblical inquiry "at any rate within the Church" (p.192). This contribution to the question is also what drives history, in Bultmann's mind.
For the ultimate purpose in the study of history is to realize consciously the possibilities it affords for the understanding of human existence. (p.192)
Though the existential setup is such that man is oriented toward God, as Bultmann reminds us with St Augustine (p.192), the tools of the exegetical [and hermeneutical, RCK] trade are profane.
Every exeget is dependent upon a terminology which has come down to him by tradition, though it is accepted uncritically and without reflection, and every traditional terminology is in one way or another dependent upon a particular philosophy. (p.193)
Bultmann is looking for an appropriate terminology, without agreeing to the philosophical answers or to the specific solutions of a philosophical system. Bultmann believes that this terminology is abstract from the contents [just as Schumann argues that the myths are capable of expressing Christian truths, RCK].
... apart from the resolve to be a human being, [that is, RCK] a person who accepts responsibility for his own Being, not a single word of Scripture is intelligible as a word with an existential relevance. (p.194)
This is an acceptable approach, because there is an anthropological constant to this process.
Discussion on this subject is possible because every existential self-understanding lies within the possibilities of human existence, and therefore every existentialist analysis based upon an existential self-understanding is generally intelligible. (p.195)
And if the acting of God is in a category different from other worldly action, how can anyone speak about it except if they are affected by it?
... if the action of God is not to be conceived as a worldly phenomenon capable of being apprehended apart from its existential reference, it can only be spoken of by speaking simultaneously of myself as the person who is existentially concerned. (p.196)
This is the reason that natural actions are dependent on the observer in their interpretation.
To every other eye than the eye of faith the action of God is hidden. Only the "natural" happening is generally visible and ascertainable. In it is accomplished the hidden act of God. (p.197)
This is not pantheism, because the identity asserted is "paradoxical", not "direct" (p.197).
In faith I can understand a thought or resolve as something which is the work of God without necessarily removing it from its place in the chain of cause and effect. (p.197)
Bultmann believes Christianity not to be a Weltanschauung, because it requires the constant receptiveness of the believer to hear what God has to say (p.198). Unlike Pantheism, God does not lose the hidden quality.
But from time to time the believer sees concrete happenings in the light of the word of grace which is addressed to him, and then faith can and ought to apprehend it as the act of God, even if its meaning is still enigmatic. (p.198)
The conception of miracles as ascertainable processes is incompatible with the hidden character of God's activity. It surrenders the acts of God to objective observation, and thus makes belief in miracles (or rather superstition) susceptible to the justifiable criticisms of science. (p.199)
To the proclamation of the word of God's grace, as found in the New Testament, man responds by faith (p.200). But that word has to have a specific structure:
It is so only when Scripture is heard as a word addressed personally to ourselves, as kerygma---i.e. when the experience consists in encounter and response to the address. That Scripture is the Word of God is something which happens only in the here and now of encounter; it is not a fact susceptible to objective proof. The Word of God is hidden in Scripture, just like any other act of his. (p.200)
Bultmann also objects to being accused of destroying eschatology (p.205). Bultmann clarifies the relationship between historical event and historical investigation as follows:
That God has acted in Jesus Christ is, however, not a fact of past history open to historical verification. That Jesus Christ is the Logos of God can never be proved by the objective investigation of the historian. (p.207)
The eschatological interpretation of Jesus Christ is not the problem; the cosmic eschatology in which the NT places it (p.208).
The eschato- || logical event, which Christ is, is consequently realized invariably and solely in concreto here and now, where the Word is proclaimed (2 Cor 6:2; Joh 5:24) and meets with faith or unbelief (2 Cor 2:15f; Joh 3:18; Joh 9:39). (pp.208f)
 Though the context of discovery for demythologizing was the scientific world view, Bultmann now sees this need as coming from faith itself.
... the restatement of mythology is a requirement of faith itself. For faith needs to be emancipated from its association with every world view expressed in objective terms, whether it be a mythical or a scientific one. (p.210) 
This is a variant of "justification by faith alone apart from the works of the Law" in the Paulo-Lutheran tradition (p.211).

Bibliographic Record

Rudolf BULTMANN, Ernst LOHMEYER, Julius SCHNIEWIND, Helmuth THIELICKE, Austin FARRER, Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate, edited by Hans Werner BARTSCH, translated by Reginald HORACE, New York -- Evanston (Harper and Row), 1961.

Demythologizing Debate---Part 5: Schumann

This post continues our series on demythologizing by looking to parts of Friedrich K. Schumann's rejoinder to Bultmann, whose essay was the first part, for deeper insights.


Schumann sets out with summarizing Bultmann's argument (p.175). Schumann sees Bultmann as arguing that an interpretation of the mythical framework must come from principles inside the New Testament that avoid abandonment or subtraction of the mythology.
... the interpretation [of the mythical parts, RCK] must be derived from the New Testament itself, from the aim which led it to select just these mythological elements. Now, the aim of the New Testament is to offer an existential understanding of the message of Christ. (p.176)
In short, it [i.e. the true and authentic life, RCK] means "eschatological existence".  Such an interpretation appears to have two advantages: first, it secures the essential truth of the New Testament message, and secondly it emancipates it from myth, and particularly from the eschatology of Jewish apocalyptic and Gnosticism. [sic!] (p.177)
Schumann reminds us of Bultmann's attempt to preserve the mythical figure of the Christ as a historical figure through Jesus of Nazareth.
Thus the peculiarity of the New Testament is that it speaks in mythological language of an historical figure and of the history of || that figure. (pp.178f)
Schumann then rightfully asks,
Why is it necessary to transcend the language of history in this peculiar way ["in this particular instance", RCK]? (p.179)
The question is therefore whether the mythological language is the only possible vehicle for conveying the meaning of Jesus for salvation history, .... (p.179)
The "acutest form" of this question poses itself with respect to "the proper language for the cross and resurrection of Jesus" (p.179), as the crucifixion designates a historical event, but its significance is mythical. Bultmann's solution is to regard the crucifixion as "the eschatological event" (p.180). The problem then, according to Schumann, becomes how we know that this particular historical event is supposed to be treated in this fashion.
So in attempting to emancipate the cross from mythology we are thrown back to a similar question with regard to the resurrection. (p.180)
Bultmann then points to the "inseparable unity of the cross and resurrection" (p.180), which Schumann agrees with, but finds as merely adding "to our difficulties" (p.180), because the redemptive quality of the cross is not established through the resurrection, but is termed to be equivalent to it, and this is indicated through the way it is preached, that is "proclaimed" in Bultmann's word (p.181).

This brings Schumann directly to the problem of whether the modern system of science permits such a notion as an eschatological event (p.182), even if it is, with Bultmann, "an historical event wrought out in time and space" (quoted (p.182)). Schumann believes that Bultmann understands that this is the residual paradox of the New Testament.
... the idea of a single historical event in time and space as the judgement pronounced by God over the historical process in time and space and the radical transformation of its whole constitution is inconceivable for those who accept the modern world view, and it would be impossible to make such a notion intelligible in terms of such a view. (p.182)
Bultmann in Schumann's reconstruction accuses mythology from attempting to supply "secular proof" for something that is eschatological, i.e. immune to such proof (p.182).

Schumann then turns to key points of methodology (p.184).

Schumann is unconvinced that the fit between philosophical theories of existence and fallenness on the one side and the Christian view of this situations, which is only mediated in Christ, have enough overlap (pp.184f).
To be fallen to "nothingness" is quite different from being fallen to sin and guilt and being fallen under the wrath of God. (p.185)
Schumann is skeptical of Bultmann's optimism that a formal description of the human condition can be had independent of personal existential attitudes thereof (p.185), and is convinced at least that Heidegger did not succeed in providing such a formal description (p.185). The Bible at least, in the phrase "created in the image of God", denies that man's Being can be described independent of his relationship to God (p.186).

Schumann prefers to interpret the mythological speech, such as Jesus calling God his father, by treating it as metaphorical speech, analyzing the relation between the literal meaning and the relevant features of the relationship between Jesus and God. (p.190) [[RCK: This is very akin to Barth's God as the original father argument.]]

Bibliographic Record

Rudolf BULTMANN, Ernst LOHMEYER, Julius SCHNIEWIND, Helmuth THIELICKE, Austin FARRER, Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate, edited by Hans Werner BARTSCH, translated by Reginald HORACE, New York -- Evanston (Harper and Row), 1961.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Demythologizing Debate---Part 7: Farrer

This post concludes our series on demythologizing by giving Austin Farrer as an English reader the opportunity to respond to the German Debate, between Bultmann (initial essay, response) and his German critics:  LohmeyerSchniewindThielicke.

Austin Farrer

Farrar approaches the problem by cataloging the "refusals of the modern mind" (p.214), distinguishing between necessary ("sun stood physically still for Joshua"), accidental ("blind eye for imagery based on the procedures of pre-scientific agriculture"), lamentable ("atrophy of ... the sense of poetry"), factitious ("Communism, physical materialism, economic utilitarianism") (p.214).

The different refusals require different addresses (p.215): Farrer considers factitious refusal akin to a disease and suggests to work to abolish them. The response to accidental and lamentable refusal is cultivation and imparting of information. But the necessary refusal must be accepted.
If, therefore, man cannot understand a "mythical" language because they are dogmatic materialists, it is a case of factitious error, and the direct target of our attack. If because they have lost their sense for poetical expression and living metaphor, it is lamentable and we ought to sustain and augment whatever rudiments of poetic sense remain. If because the Biblical images draw on unfamiliar fields of experience, it is accidental and must be met largely by the substitution of familiar images, not (if you like to say so) by demythicization but by remythicization. But if it is because of a real conflict with the way in which any decent modern man is bound to think, then indeed it is time to talk about removing the offensive element from the Biblical story by radical translation into harmless terms. (p.215)
The biggest problem is how to deal with poetic symbols vs literal facts (p.215). Farrer argues that in the NT, the relationship is often left undecided. St Luke probably thought that Jesus' genealogy was roughly correct (p.215), while John probably did not consider his sketch of the Heavenly Jerusalem correct to the extent a vista is (p.216).
But the middle cases ... are the more typical; if we ask with Bultmann ... whether spirits good and evil were really thought to be breaths of subtle and potent air physically invading the human person, we run into a mist of ambiguities. (p.216)
Farrer thinks Bultmann is making it too easy on himself by pretending to know that "the Word never becomes flesh by making physical fact as immediately pliable to his [i.e. God's, RCK] expression as spoken symbols are" (p.216). Farrer leaves the possibility open that God could make a symbolic expression into physical fact (p.216). Farrer sides with Lohmeyer that the symbolic dereferencing of religious expressions need not terminate (p.217), because there is no literal description that can terminate the recourse (pp.216f).
The techniques of historical scholarship cannot establish that God lived in man, but only that certain things were done and certain words were said. (p.219)
[[RCK: I would say that "certain words were written" is probably the strongest one can go.]]

Farrer then goes Catholic on his readers (p.222) before pointing to an inherent need for demythologizing in Christianity, realized in prayer.
The crucifixion of the images in which God is first shown to us is a necessity of prayer because it is a necessity of life. (p.222)

Bibliographic Record

Rudolf BULTMANN, Ernst LOHMEYER, Julius SCHNIEWIND, Helmuth THIELICKE, Austin FARRER, Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate, edited by Hans Werner BARTSCH, translated by Reginald HORACE, New York -- Evanston (Harper and Row), 1961.

Demythologizing Debate---Part 4: Thielicke

This post continues our series on demythologizing by looking to parts of Helmut Thielicke's rejoinder to Bultmann, whose essay was the first part, for deeper insights.


Thielicke sees Bultmann's essay as "an ecclesiastical event" [probably in allusion to the eschatological event, RCK] (p.138). 
Bultmann has asked the question whether salvation history, int its formal aspect at any rate, is to be regarded as myth rather than history, and as myth not only in its outer framework but in its essential core, in the event of Jesus Christ. (p.138)
Thielicke takes from Luther the focus on faith being something "located extra me" (p.139), from which the "controversy with Bultmann" acquires the role of a "status confessionis" (p.139).
[Each theologian, RCK] ... must decide what is the kernel of the gospel, and what is merely the outward husk which has been shaped by human imagination, by traditional interpretation, by the tendency to produce credal formulae, by the subsequent historical consolidation of the truths of faith. What is "truth" and what is "mythology"? What is divine and what is human? (p.140)
Thielicke contrasts the sincerity of Bultmann with the "vagueness, nay more, the downright insincerity ... of much modern preaching" (p.140). Pragmatics take the place of theology: "How much will the congregation stand?" Thielicke concedes that there is a line between the "husk of mythology and the kernel of revelation" and merely asks: "Where exactly should the line be drawn?"

Thielicke believes, and endeavors to show in the first, that Bultmann's restatement of mythology "is the elimination of salvation history and the substitution of philosophy for theology" (p.141). Against this, Thielike takes the confessional document of the Hessian church and points to the inevitability of myth in human communication, an anthropological given, so to speak (p.141).

Thielicke interprets Bultmann as defending the kerygma against the religionsgeschichtliche Schule,
... not by denying the influence of its environment [upon the kerygma, RCK], nor by a naive dogmatism which the study of the History of Religions has rendered obsolete, but by penetrating through the temporary framework of mythology to the permanent truth behind it. (p.143)
Thielicke praises Bultmann for his realistic view of the situation post-religionsgeschichtliche Schule, for
... the only real answer to the History of Religions school will come from a theologian who recognizes its discoveries and who realizes the complete change in the situation which those discoveries have brought about. (p.143)
Thieklicke agrees with the assessment that the mythology is ubiquitous and cannot be subtracted out, and that the Gospel cannot be converted into a timeless truth (p.144). The latter especially
... deprived salvation history of its historical roots and reduced it to a Weltanschauung (p.145).
Thielicke then reconstructs Bultmann as wanting to leave the myth in place but to interpret it, as "convey[ing, RCK] a particular understanding of human life." (p.145) Thielicke illustrates this with speculating on the creatio ex nihilo, which is not concerned with how the world came about, but what the role of the creature is vis-a-vis God as the creator in his uncontested absolute sovereignty (p.145).

Thielicke's protest begins with Bultmanns "understanding of life" (p.146), which he considers a reformulation of Schleiermacher's "self-consciousness".
Consequently the event in the process of revelation is not an objective reality, it is simply a change in the subjective consciousness of man. When the prologue of the Fourth Gospels [sic! RCK] says "The Word became flesh" it means by "flesh" not the historical fact in the manger at Bethlehem but the acquisition of the new understanding of human life which has its origin in that point of history. (p.147)
[[RCK: One wonders what Bultmann will do with this example, given that he clearly argued in the same essay---cf. (p.11); (p.34)---that the pre-existence of the Logos in the Gospel of John is incompatible with the nativity story in Bethlehem in Matthew and Luke, as well as James.]]

Thielicke considers the status of the events in history as negative or at best indirect (p.148). [[RCK: This is indeed so insofar as Bultmann only needs one historical event in his salvation history, the crucifixion.]]

Thielicke then objects on principles to bringing secular theology to bear on the interpretation of the Bible, which has the facultas se ipsum interpretandi, which can only be "violated ... with fatal results" (p.149).
This is what happened in Kant's philosophy, and again in theological idealism. (p.149)
Thielicke sees that Bultmann agrees with the philosophers, including his former pupil Kamlah, up and to the point of how to achieve redemption (p.151).

However, Thielicke inverts the relationship between resurrection and an encounter with the Christ (p.154):
... the resurrection is the only thing which creates a real encounter with Christ. (p.154) 
Thielicke admits that the mere historical nature of the empty tomb and similar "can never provide an adequate basis for faith, for they are still relative" (p.153).
Just as the Old Testament can only be understood and can only become an encounter in the light of the fact of Christ, so too the life of Jesus makes sense only in the light of the resurrection, and only so can become an encounter. (p.154)
And just as it is impossible to interpret the fact of Christ as a mythological inference from Old Testament prophecy, so also the resurrection cannot be regarded as a mythological inference from an encounter with Christ. In both cases the past has been absolutely superseded by a stark  fact of history, and placed in an entirely new light. (p.154)
Thielicke then turns to the question of how the "fundamental Christological events of Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost" are treated with Bultmann (p.155). Thielicke knows that the crucifixion and resurrection are collapsed into a present experience of "illumination" for Bultmann (p.155), referring to the phrase "I die and rise again with Christ" (p.36f), but with the resurrection being not historical, Thielicke is unsatisfied, arguing that Bultmann is making "salvation history evaporate into this questionable `present` of his" (p.156).

Thielicke is in general unhappy with the demarcation line between mythology and revelation, "the dividing-line between the eternal and the temporary, the divine and the human", as part of the Christian message is the penetration of that separation (p.157).

Thielicke then takes a separate tack, where he tries to show that mythology is "an essential element in human thought, and is it not therefore just a as valid an approach to reality as, e.g. that of natural science" (p.158). This transfers the problem into one of epistemology, and Thielicke wonders whether they are not complementary approaches, as it were (p.158)---with recourse on Bachofen, reading "symbol" as "mythological symbolism" (p.159).

Using Alfred Jeremias definition of Biblical myth---"the narration of a heavenly process, presented in a definite logical series of motifs reflected symbolically in objective events" (p.160)---and analogizing it to Kant's Ding an sich, which "affects our capacity for apprehension with its categorical determination" (p.160), Thielicke reconstructs a transcendental element, "a reality which utterly transcends consciousness, and which possesses an objective validity of its own" (p.160).
From this construction, Thielicke concludes that
Myth and history are not a priori antitheses. (p.161)
Thielicke now enumerates tasks that the theologians have to tackle, including separating "legendary embroidery" from "myths which contain transcendental truth, and which are therefore absolutely indispensible" (p.161),  among which he numbers "the myths of the creation, the fall, etc" (p.161). Some myths, such as the Virgin birth, are "pictorial explanations of certain facts in history" (p.162). Thielicke then suggests that "remythologizing" be the watchword, since Bultmann is in the end too academic about the problem:
... our age is not one of enlightenment. So far from accepting enlightenment as an ideal, it is consciously, and still more unconsciously, searching for a new myth. (p.162)
Thielicke wonders whether such remythologizing will cause the new myths of the age, of which he mentions "spirit, existence, or blood" (p.162), would not rupture when filled with the Christian dogma---similarly to the way Schleiermacher's Christliche Leben destroyed the religious sketch of the Reden (p.163 Fn 3); Thielicke specifically cites the Deutschen Christen as a failure of such a re-imagination (p.164).

With remythologizing eliminated, and Bultmann's interpretation a failure,
because it involves the substitution of an abstract philosophy of existence for a kerygma rooted in history (p.164)
Thielicke asks whether Christianity can be modernized at all, and faces the dilemma theologically (p.164). Thielicke briefly toys with Oscar Cullmann's idea of using "prophecy" instead of "myth" (p.166), a point that Cullmann raised then and again in his own Heil als Geschichte, pp.80-82 [[RCK: cf. my discussion here]].

Thielicke then points to the fundamental difference between Biblical and pagan myth, and sees the pagan myth under the divine judgement of the fall.
Man shows by this [i.e. the pagan myth, RCK] a quite definite concern as to what God shall be and what he shall not be. The pagan myth is not so much the expression of a history between God and man as its actual accomplishment. ... In its mythology a people registers and betrays its relation to the truth. (p.166)
Thielicke also notes that in the same way God chose to take flesh, He also chose to place himself into the mind of man (p.167). Thielicke plays here with the imagery of the ancient construction techniques.
Human reason is only a crib, fashioned from the same wood as the cross. (p.167)
Thielicke points out that such a preparation has happened with philosophical terms, for example following the French Thomist Jacques Maritain, with the logos. [[RCK: Thielicke had already alluded to this (p.164).]]
Thus the speculation and the mythology which grew up around the Logos, or rather the insight into the truth which these represent, is taken up and used by revelation as a vehicle, however inadequate, for the event of revelation. ... It is inadequate, because it is a temporal concept, and the truth which it has to express is a transcendent one. (p.167)
Thielicke then begins to wonder why God had not delayed until Einstein and Copernicus, so that a more appropriate world view be found for the revelation [[RCK: sounding like Tim Rice in Jesus Christ Superstar, for all intents and purposes.]] Thielicke acknowledges the Catholic line of thinking on this issue:
[Catholic theology's, RCK] ... suggestions still hold good, even if we cannot agree with the hypothesis of the analogia entis, however attractive it may be in this particular connection, and even if we cannot accept the view that the movement from praeparatio evangelica in classical thought via the Logos to the Christian revelation in an unbroken line from nature to grace. (p.168)
Thielicke initially grapples with the problem that the three-storied, outmoded model of the world in the NT somehow served better for the "idea of transcendence" (p.169; p.171), but then begins to take advantage of the preliminary notion of the "hypothesis" concept.
It was to bring out this difference that the distinction was drawn between Weltbild and Weltanschauung, the former representing a transsubjective, scientific fact, and the latter man's subjective interpretation of himself, and interpretation which is quite independent of the Weltbild. (p.170)
Here Thielicke has effectively re-iterated the independence between myth and science he had claimed already earlier. The affirmation as a faith of the Weltbild  produces an immanent ethics, religion, and philosophy of history (p.170). Thielicke then claims that far from the Weltbild being at fault, it is the Weltanschauung that competes against the Christian world view (p.171),.

Having thus grounded mythology as an anthropological given (p.172; cf. p.158) and seeing the task of the symbol interpretation via Bachofen to be the particularization for the individual (p.173), Thielicke reminds the reader to pay attention to the different types of myth (p.173). This is the proper response of the Church to Bultmann's problem statement (p.174).

Bibliographic Record

Rudolf BULTMANN, Ernst LOHMEYER, Julius SCHNIEWIND, Helmuth THIELICKE, Austin FARRER, Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate, edited by Hans Werner BARTSCH, translated by Reginald HORACE, New York -- Evanston (Harper and Row), 1961.

Cullmann on Salvation as History


Oscar Cullmann sees salvation history as a "göttliche, von uns zunächst unabhängige Geschichte" (p.10), which does not obey the historiographical approach of scientific history in reconstructing a network of events chained by cause and effect (p.37; p.59) and finds faith to be directed toward the historical, even if not the academic historiography, as Cullmann phrases the problem in discussion of Gerhard von Rads Theologie des AT:
... der Glaube [ist] zwar nicht von der durch die historisch-kritische Wissenschaft erarbeitete Historie abhängig, wohl aber doch durch sie auf Geschichte als Objekt jener Glaubensdeutung verwiesen .... (p.36)
For Cullmann, the coupling of eschatology and salvation history is provided by a New Testament conception of time that combines the "schon" with the "noch nicht" (p.44; p.20).

Oscar Cullmann's work is a reaction to the existential-philosophical approach of Rudolf Bultmann in the spirit of Heidegger. According to Cullmann, Bultmann and his students interpreted eschatology as a point event (p. 23; 25; 27-29), as "existentiell punktuelle Eschatologie" that is the opposite to a salvation history. It is equally a criticism of the work of Albert Schweitzer and his students (p.12ff), who had pointed to the processing of the parousia delay as the core origin of salvation history in the New Testament. Indeed, for Bultmann student E. Fuchs, the end of the Law was synonymous with the end of History (p.30). In the Bultmann school, men like Conzelmann in his analysis of Luke, Mitte der Zeit, made Luke guilty of inventing the concept of salvation history (p.26), even if that result was relativized the work of Philhauer (p.28) and Grässer (p.28f).

Cullmann sees the resurgence of the question of the historical Jesus, which Schweitzer had demolished as a question and Bultmann rejected (p.30) as a necessary consequence of the lack of historical depth to the Bultmann conception. 
Wer von einer Kontinuität zwischen dem historischen Jesus und dem Christus des urgemeindlichen Glaubens redet, redet damit implizit von Heilsgeschichte, ob er will oder nicht. ... obwohl diejenigen, die die Diskussion ins Leben gerufen haben, sich ausdrücklich gegen eine Verquickung mit Heilsgeschichte verwahren. (p.34)
From Gerhard von Rad's Theologie des ATs, Cullmann learns that
Entwicklung der Traditionen ist selbst Heilsgeschichte und steht in Kontinuität mit dem ursprünglichen Geschehen (p.35), 
even if these experiences were initially localized to individual tribes (p.36).

Not uninterestingly, Cullmann discusses H. Ott's attempt to get past Bultmann and a bit toward Barth by reducing the level of mythology suspected in the New Testament, although Cullmann concludes with some resignation:
Aber letzten Endes kommen für OTT wie für BULTMANN doch nur diejenigen eschatologischen Aussagen in Betracht, in denen sich der individuelle Glaubenszeuge in seinem Existenzverständnis ange- || sprochen weiß. (pp.44f)
Ott is interesting here because he wrote the RGG3 entry on Heilsgeschichte.

In his discussion of Hermeneutics, Cullmann again shows that he has a Barthian assumption of the prior of the divine action that is independent.
Heißt Glaube bei Paulus nicht gerade, daß daran geglaubt wird, daß ein anderer das Heilswerk schon für mich vollbracht hat, aber für mich, weil eben ganz und gar unabhängig von mir, unabhängig auch von meinem Glauben? (p.51)
Though Cullmann pays lipservice to the Vorverständnis, he insists on a "neutralen Erforschung von Ereignissen" (p.51) without explaining what that might be.
Wenn die im Neuen Testament gemeinte Glaubensentscheidung wirklich unsere Selbsteinreihung in jene Ereignisfolge fordert, so darf diese Ereignisfolge gerade nicht in dem genannten Sinne entmythologisiert, d.h. nicht enthistorisiert, nicht entobjektiviert werden. Das heißt aber, daß die Mitteilung über diese---wenn auch gedeuteten---Ereignisse zunächst als gegenständlicher Ereignisbericht ernst zu nehmen ist. (p.52) 
Because Cullmann pooh-poohs Vorverständnis, he then cannot understand that the Hermeneutic Theory in the style of Gadamer that the Bultmann School is using is based on a shared anthropology and gives no guarantee of understanding at all.
Einen Text einer heidnischen Religion vermag ich ja auch richtig zu interpretieren, ohne dieser Religion anzugehören, sonst wäre alle Religionswissenschaft unmöglich. (p.53)
Of course Cullmann is correct in observing that understanding is not the same as agreement, and that the message need not be accepted if it is received (p.53). But he then calls that interpretation of what the text says prior to its kerygmatic acceptance the proper "Vorverständnis" (p.54). Furthermore, Cullmann believes that the circle of interpretation means that that
ich mir einigermaßen sicher bin, daß mein Glaube demjenigen der ersten Christen adäquat ist  (p.54)
a situation that Gadamer's theory would never permit one to detect.

Cullmann observes that the NT uses salvation plan, via oikonomia, rather than history (p.57), which carried over into the work of Irenaeus of Lyons (pp.57f).

The main difference between a history of philosophy and salvation history is the selection principle of the events: the philosophy uses some philosophical principle, while the salvation history uses revelation (pp.58f). The resulting event selection need not coalesce into a narrative and may have gaps along the timeline, the skipping of whole periods of time (p.59).

As a result, Cullmann has to deal with the criticism that the salvation history is not much like history at all (p.59). Though Cullmann has a separate chapter on this, the basic idea is that there is analogy between history proper and salvation history, given by their connected series of events (p.59); the space that salvation history has for human resistance, "Unheilsgeschichte" (p.60); and the historical nature of the core events of the salvation history, foremost of which is the crucifixion of Jesus (p.60).

Against Bultmann, Cullmann probably rightfully points out, that eschatology means "final time" (Endzeit), not "time of decision" (Entscheidungszeit), and that he will stick with that form of the terminology (pp.60f). Of course, for Bultmann and his students, as Cullmann himself pointed out with respect to Ernst Fuchs (p.30; cf. p.68 Fn 2), the end of the law is also the end of time. Cullmann needs that sense of course to maintain the connection to salvation time.

Cullmann sees "apocalypse" as proximate to "eschatology" (p.62), though he shares some of the speculative criticism (p.63) and wants to predominantly use it as a literary form label (p.63). If there is any temporal orientation, it is usually via the notion of the two eons (p.63). Cullmann claims that to Bultmann and his school, apocalyptic is whatever is not kerygmatic (p.63), but rejects such pejorative use of the word.
Wir werden als Wesensmerkmal aller biblischen Eschatologie feststellen, daß das kosmische Geschehn mit historischem Geschehen heilsgeschichtlich so verbunden wird, daß die Kosmologie sozusagen entmythologisiert und historisiert wird; ferner, daß alles kosmische Geschehen mit dem Menschheitsgeschehen verknüpft und auf diese Weise der Kosmos in die Sünde und die Erlösung einbezogen wird. (p.64)
[[RCK: This reconstruction, though appropriate for understanding the biblical notion of cosmos and eschatology, is also a prime example for why de-mythologizing is not optional. The idea that human sin somehow affected a cosmos that had begun running its processes billions of years before is odd to the modern ear.]]

Cullmann warns that not all cosmological eschatology, such as Mk 13 and parallel, need be formation of the congregation, just because they express views that are inconvenient,
als sei jede kosmische Zukunftsaussage Entartung wahrer Eschatologie. (p.65)
Cullmann then points out that the continuation of the OT salvation history in the NT is due to the prophecy -- fulfillment scheme that the early Christians use from the very beginning; he points to 1 Kor 15:3, a very old creed, with its reference kata tas graphas (p.67). These old creeds also identify the core events of that history of salvation (p.67). This import relationship means that the understanding of OT salvation history is a key to understanding NT salvation history (p.68). Cullmann is ready to admit the historical process that underpins the construction of the salvation history.
Wir werden ... sehen, daß schon im Alten Testament das Gesamtverständnis des heilsgeschichtlichen göttlichen Plans im Zusammenhang || mit immer neuen Gegenwartsereignissen evoluiert und zum Teil bereits tiefgreifende Wandlungen durchmacht. (pp.69f)
Cullmann is adamant that the process of evolving understanding causes mutual shifts in interpretation with respect to the old and the new.
Heilsgeschichte entsteht also nicht durch bloße Addition von Geschehnissen, die im Glauben als Heilsereignisse erkannt sind, sondern jedesmal werden zugleich auch an der Interpretation der vergangenen Heilsereignisse Korrekturen im Licht der neuen vorgenommen. (p.71)
[[RCK: This logic is not surprising,  this is the only way the Christian claim of the NT as completing or closing the OT can even be implemented.]]

Cullmann also wants to integrate the act of interpretation (Deutung) into salvation history.
Wir werden sehen daß diese Einbeziehung der Heilsmitteilung in die Heilsereignisse für das Neue Testament ganz wesentlich ist. Sie ist aber auch im Alten Testament bald implizit, bald explizit vorhanden. (p.71)
Cullmann insists that the prophet is an eye witness---an antidote to Doketism (p.73) and an even more decisive criterion for the resurrection (p.83)---of the event that receives an interpretation from within a salvation historic plan---though the prophets do not always give the full plan (Gesamtschau), while the alignment with the other prophets, eschatology and pre-history can be viewed as a later process of reflection (p.72).

In the Old Testament, the core conviction of the salvation plan is the selection of Israel as God's chosen people
[Der Mittelpunkt des göttlichen Heilsplans im OT ist, RCK] die Erwählung Israels zum Heil der Menschheit .... (p.74)
The prophet has only witnessed his own event; all the others he has received via the tradition of writing and liturgy, just as the present day people have (p.74). And it is from the new event that the old kerygma is restructured (p.75), which in turn refers to the individual events. [[RCK: Cullmann tries to make this restructuring as dynamic as possible, using a concept pair of Kontinuität und Kontingenz, which also allows him to bundle in the problem of human resistance and sin; cf. (pp.104ff).]]

Cullmann knows that the overall salvation plan contains myths and legends adjacent to events, both couched in terms of narrative, but he insists that this need not imply an equivalence of myth and event (p.75) and that all such cases subordinate the myth to the event and use it to illustrate the event (p.76)---a discussion he promises to have on pages pp.117ff.

Cullmann claims that the difficulty of separating the narratives into event and legend have led modern interpreters of the Bible (Exegeten) to discard the question and focus on the kerygma; but he finds that unhelpful, as the kerygma is tied back to events in his notion, and thus historical.
Was für Ereignisse haben Jesus selbst zu dem von ihm gebrachten Kerygma veranlaßt? (p.76)
Thus he believes that interpreters are scared of the hard work of digging for the historical kernel that supports every event depicted (p.77), but does not seem to consider the possibility that something might lack any historical truth. Thus, he can propose to go with the men of the Bible the way from eyewitness event to salvation historical interpretation (p.78).
Wir dürfen also auch die Formgeschichte nicht einseitig so auffassen, als wäre ihr einziges Ziel, uns die Unüberbrückbarkeit des Abstandes zwischen Kerygma und Geschichte greifbar zu machen. (p.78)
Cullmann believes that he has no philosophy of history (Geschichtsphilosophie), unlike Bultmann claimed (p.80), and terms his use of prophetic revelation as historical foundation a prophecy of history (Geschichtsprophetie).  As a consequence, there is no structure to the revealed sequence of events making up the salvation history, but is a skandalon already to the contemporaries (p.102).

As before in the OT, Cullmann insists on the historical facts underpinning the Easter Narratives, such as the resurrection (p.81), which he identifies as transformative for salvation history in the sense that a single event now becomes the immutably maximally important event (p.82).

Though Cullmann had resented the question of the historical Jesus as caused by the focus of the Bultmann school, he ends up with a doubling of kerygmata instead, one for Jesus, one for the disciples and the congregation (p.88). This of course is anathema to Bultmann, who knows not what the kerygma of anyone other than the congregation would be and how to reconstruct it (p.89). [[RCK: Of course Bultmann's approach has none of the continuity problems that Cullmann finds so vexing, cf. (pp.88-90).]]

Because the formula of the "son of man" is one of the salvation historical formula of inclusion
Selbstbezeichnungen, die ja eine heilsgeschichtliche Einreihung implizieren (p.90)
just as "leidende Gottesknecht", the Bultmann school has rejected it as a self-description used by Jesus. For Cullmann, who wants to distribute the titles over the two kerygmata, the categorical NO of Bultmann to all OT titles is implausible, because it makes for a break and not a continuity (p.91). Cullmann believes that the remembering of the Disciples, which is a necessary part of the kerygma formation that happens as part of the Easter event, presupposes that Jesus used at least some of the titles to refer to himself, but not just "indirectly" (i.e. in the third grammatical person) (p.92). However, it is very likely that Jesus spoke about these titles in the third person, and thus indirectly, and the Disciples then applied them to him--a solution that Cullmann rejects with no good argument (pp.92f).

For Cullmann, revelation is first about divine existence and secondarily about the human existence (p.97). [[RCK: But he gives no indication that he understands that this is the human speaking about the revelation, which factually inverts the relationship again.]] He amplifies this separation in the case of faith (p.101), where he insists on the extra nos, pro nobis division.

Cullmann turns to the relationship between history and salvation history in more detail in the phenomenological considerations, starting on (p.117). Here Cullmann first has to address the issue again of how to deal with the mix of myth and history that he admits the OT salvation history is--cf. pp.75f above. Their entanglement is readily admitted (pp.118f) Cullmann seems to think that the myths were external accretions, because he continuously insists that the OT already de-mythologized them by virtue of including them into a historical framework (p.120). The myths are thus controlled by the Biblical program, and not by any philosophy of history (p.121). [[RCK: However, that completely fails to address the issue that there are historical narratives that have no historical basis, such as the destruction of Jericho, which is at best an etiological explanation of the ruins, but not a myth in the sense that Urgeschichte und Endgeschichte are (pp.118f). Thus, Cullmann can tick off de-mythologizing as accomplished---again (p.130). Conversely, Cullmann can interpret the de-mythologizing work of the Bultmann school as de-historizing and re-mythologizing (p.127), because they end up with more myth than his approach does, as loci of Seinsverständnis.

Cullmann next analyzes the relationship between profane and salvation history (pp.132f). They share commonalities that support the analogous use of the word "history" in both (p.133), but they also have serious differences (p.132).
Heilsgeschichte ist demnach nicht eine Geschichte neben der Geschichte ... sondern sie wickelt sich in der Geschichte ab und gehört in diesem Sinne zu ihr.  (p.134)
Cullmann thinks that it is foundationally true that salvation history exhibits gaps and jumps (p.135), whole periods are missed or glossed over.
Einzelne Ereignisse erscheinen hier aus dem Gesamtgeschehen --- historisch gesprochen --- willkürlich ausgesondert, ausgezeichnet, und doch besteht zwischen ihnen ein Zusammenhang. (p.135)
This context is almost the flip side of the Erwählungs-Idee (p.135) [[RCK: Cullmann writes "irrational" but probably means "transrational".]] which is permitted to gloss over whole periods (p.135). [[RCK: see discussion below]]

Part and parcel of Cullmann's alternate proposal for the interpretation of salvation history is the rejection of the crisis mode form of Parousie disappointment. Under the topic of the elongation of the time between (Dehnung der Zwischenzeit, pp.214ff), Cullmann tries to show that there was no crisis but a gradual acceptance of the lack of a return and the passing away of members of the congregation that had been expected to be alive when the Return of the Son of Man was to come (p.215). Recall that Bultmann and Schweitzer had taken this insight as the core of their motivational structure of the kerygmatic formation. Cullmann is also trying to show that salvation history was not compensatory to the parousie delay (pp.215f). Especially the build out of congregation organization however (p.216) makes no sense prior to an appreciation for the delay, as Cullmann notes. Elsewhere (p.185) Cullmann correctly points out---with reference to Strack-Billerbeck IV, Excourse 30---that the notion of the suddenness of the arrival of the Messiah is already topical in Jewish thinking.
Die Paruiseverzögerung sei das eine große Problem, mit dem sich das Urchristentum abgequält habe, innerhalb deren die Zwischenzeit von unbestimmter Dauer als sich selbst genügende Erfüllung angesehen und die Frage des Kommens des zukünftigen Reiches dementsprechend völlig irrelevant wurde. In einer großen Zahl von Jesuslogien werden nun Spuren endloser Bemühungen der Gemeinde gefunden, mit diesem einen Problem fertig zu werden, und auf ihr Konto werden zahllose Umbildungen und besonders Neubildungen von Jesusworten gesetzt. (p.218)
Cullmann rejects that interpretation; he finds the basis in the NT too small (p.219) and believes that the continuity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit helped to stabilize the community across the experiences of the delay (pp.220f).
Die Einschaltung einer gedehnten Zwischenzeit in eine Heilsgeschichte war nicht ein theologisches Fündlein, nicht eine "Verlegenheitslösung". Sie war überhaupt nicht primär Lösung eines Problems, sondern heilsgeschichtliche Deutung neuer Ereignisse, wie es solche schon immer in der Entwicklung der biblischen Heilsgeschichte gegeben hatte. (p.221)
Cullmann proposes that in the case of Paul, the salvation historical thinking is in some sense a carry over from the OT thinking (p.226), when he reconnects to the OT in his explications (p.227). Cullmann points out that Paul's conversion experience is itself salvation historical in structure (p.228).

Cullmann has a whole section (pp.269ff) on what the end of salvation history could be (p.101), but briefly mentions it to be the canon.


Cullmann does not really face the problem that the historical-criticial sciences have been unable to reconstruct any history for some of the narratives in the Bible. It's not just a question of extending the event from a small localized setting to a broader Israelite tradition, as Cullmann thinks with von Rad (pp.35f), nor of faith finding itself directed at history as its object (p.36) independent of how the historical reconstruction came out. This situation has clearly gotten worse, especially in terms of archaeology, since Cullmann's times.  Cullmann is still under the impression that the basic history of the people called Israel is roughly correct.
So stellt grosso modo der ganze Ablauf der Geschichte Israels Heilsgeschichte dar.  Nun werden aber vom Profanhistoriker die gleichen Ereignisse nicht als Geschichte des erwählten Volkes dargestellt, sondern im Gegenteil in die Geschichte der anderen Völker eingereiht. (p.135)
This leaves it completely open what to do if these parts are no longer supported by profane historiography. The current professional historian is not at all working with the same events, but is looking to rather different evidence and events.

Cullmann in general seems to be unclear that the whole idea of the Entmythologisierungsprogramm in the spirit of Rudolf Bultmann was to rectify a bad situation, not to cause a problem. It was precisely because the historical context was floating away that it became important to substitute something else---here Heidegger's Existential Philosophy---which became the new solid ground.

While the notion of the eyewitness inserting the event into the salvation historic plan is plausible for the prophetic tradition, it makes almost no sense for the events of the Pentateuch. Who is supposed to have witnessed the crossing of the reed sea---cf. p.77---and made that part of the salvation plan? Or the Passah meal? This is especially true for events that we now know to have been fictional, e.g. the destruction of Jericho. The problem is especially troublesome because Cullmann is effectively forced to assume that there is always a historical nugget that can be excavated, and that it is predominantly an issue of scale, e.g. a few chariots of Pharaoh rather than the whole army (p.77). But that is taking too easy a way out.

The interleaving of myth and historical events, that Cullmann finds acceptable (pp.120f), raises the question of why God cannot provide an interpretation of the historical events that is independent of the mythology. As a result, the Biblical authors end up being naive and incapable of distinguishing between myth and history (p.125), just as we are stuck with their narratives as hard to separate (p.122; p.129). Again, we find this inversion; Cullmann tries to sell as a feature what is the problem, and complains about the solutions as if they were gratuitous impositions rather than desperate rear-guard actions.

Cullmann is right of course that the whole punchline of the NT and the resurrection is the historically localized event (p.124) couched in mythical language, and that narratives like the nativity try to show the divine action in the ministry of Jesus (p.125). But that's not all the mythology, and all the historization that needs to happen, and the claim of all exegesis to always have been de-mythologizing (p.130) just indicates a lack of appreciation for the issues involved. Cullmann reserves the notion of myth for the front and the back of the story, but considers the middle section the "historische Mittelstück" (p.133).

The notion of the gappy historical narrative that a Heilsgeschichte has (p.135), skipping entire periods at a time, Cullmann takes as a key differentiator between profane and sacred history. But this double edged sword is hardly useful. From the point of view of the profane historiography, there are many narratives that are equally gapped, as in idea history or style history. Indeed, Cullmann's own historical retrospective of the discussion in the Prolegomena (pp.10-45) makes that clear---he has skipped writers and papers and books in this discussion, focusing on a few writers without showing the causal connections. Even more damaging though is that the nature of these gaps in Heilsgeschichte is a huge problem from the modern perspective, a lack rather than a feature. Just as some of Cullmann's contemporaries must have been disappointed that their paper did not justify inclusion, how is the believer supposed to feel that their period, times and struggles have no place in the event signature of salvation history? Theodicee is popping into the picture with a vengeance.

Cullmann's dismissal of the parusie delay is somewhat abrupt (pp.218ff) and in general underplays all the logia he had already been arguing about. Distinguishing between historiographical interpretation (Deutung) and problem solving (see the quote above from page p.221) is an especially questionable non-starter: how could a revelation be received as new if it did not solve a problem?

Bultmann and those that follow him propose that we do not have access to Jesus independent of the writings of the NT and the sources used by the NT. The Jesus of Paul is a different one than the Jesus of Luke or Mark or John. Sometimes we can use their agreement to postulate that Jesus of Nazareth may have said something himself, originally, but we cannot be sure that this is all that he said nor that he used those words. Unfortunately, it is difficult to date Q precisely with respect to Paul's writing, putting in jeopardy the assumption that congregation traditions were circulated previously to Paul's letters in writing. [Fn: A look at a modern chronology of the writings (1996 by Udo Schnelle) shows that the entire NT was written in a window of about three generations, between 50 (Thes) and 120 (2 Petr, Joh).]

Bibliographic Record

Oscar Cullmann, Heil als Geschichte, Tübingen (Siebeck-Mohr) 1965.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Demythologizing Debate---Part 3: Lohmeyer

This post continues our series on demythologizing by looking to parts of Ernst Lohmeyer's rejoinder to Bultmann, whose essay was the first part, for deeper insights.


Lohmeyer haggles with Bultmann over the way myth needs to be conceptualized and what its function os.
It is just here that the enigma of myth lies: it dares to speak of an absolute Deity in human words and with analogies from human relationships, and moreover is successful in doing so. (p.128)
Lohmeyer also wants to emphasize the aspect of the world, cosmology, which he sees sadly neglected in  Bultmann's treatment.
Myth revolves around the inexhaustible wealth of these relations between God and the world and man: it lives and springs like a ceaseless fountain from these three sources of theology, cosmology and anthropology. (p.128)
Lohmeyer next investigates the relationship between theology as science and preaching.
[Christianity, RCK] ... is an historical religion, and at the same time the final, eschatological, only true religion---Jesus Christ, not only yesterday, but to-day and for ever. (p.130) 
For Lohmeyer, the myth functions like a symbol, and can form "the mode in which God reveals himself" (p.130).
... myth never recognized any limit to its applicability, any more than modern science does. Both are potentially capable of drawing all truth into their own sphere, and even where something happens, which does not fit into its conceptions, it is brought into relation with those conceptions, and even the most ordinary occurrence may become the vessel of a mythical revelation. (p.132)
Indeed, Lohmeyer thinks that existentialism is a form of secularized Christianity (p.134).

Lohmeyer analogizes myth to the other modes of expressions, such as "a dialogue, a doctrine, or a prayer" (p.135).
Interpretation must always establish the permanent content of truth behind the mode of expression, and ascertain why historically it was uttered in that particular mode. (p.135)
In this Lohmeyer is given to a much dated hermeneutics.
When the truth is established as valid apart from the investigator himself, scientific theology has achieved its aim. (p.136) 

Bibliographic Record

Rudolf BULTMANN, Ernst LOHMEYER, Julius SCHNIEWIND, Helmuth THIELICKE, Austin FARRER, Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate, edited by Hans Werner BARTSCH, translated by Reginald HORACE, New York -- Evanston (Harper and Row), 1961.

Demythologizing Debate---Part 2: Schniewind

This post continues our series on demythologizing by looking to parts of Julius Schniewind's rejoinder to Bultmann, whose essay was the first part, for deeper insights.

Julius Schniewind

In Part VII of his critique, Schniewind faces some of the terminological problems of Bultmann. 
"Historic" existence is contrasted with "nature". Nature is the sphere of the demonstrable and calculable, the realm of causality. "Historic" being, on the other hand, is realized in decision (p.11) and resolve (p.22). 
Schniewind then goes on to extend that definition excavated from Bultmann.
Nature, we may add, is always consistent, and is therefore patient of experimental research. History, on the other hand, is characterized by Either/Or, and therefore bears the stamp of uniqueness, contingency and spontaneity. (p.76)
Bultmann had argued in the discussion with Thielicke that
... we know that the act of God is what it claims to be only when we realize that it happened pro me. (cited (p.77))
The paradox of the Christian Gospel is just this---those events are present realities although they belong to past history. (cited (p.77)) 
Schniewind largely agrees with Bultmann.
... faith is soemthing given "in with and under" the testimony of the cross and resurrection. ... The event of salvation is valid for all time; it is a permanent Now. For here is the unique and final revelation of God. (p.78)
But Schniewind worries that Bultmann's sense of eschatological is too wide, covering all of religious experience, not just the "last things" as the literal meaning would suggest (p.78).

Schniewind then goes on to criticize the temporal structure with which Bultmann operates. To Schniewind, the present, the now,
... is never an object of possession: it is the mathematical point between the past and the future. (p.81)
Schniewind equally objects to the identification of the present with the eschatological (p.81).
Eschatology deals with the telos, with the meaning and the goal of the time process, not with the eternal present. (p.81)
Here, Schniewind and Bultmann pass company on their interpretation of the Gospel of John, which is not illuminative to the problem at hand.
Schniewind also challenges Bultmann's notion, that the "historic" (geschichtlich)  can be defined as decision, because of the event separation within the decision of the before and after.
... both decisions and events imply a time-process rather than an immediate and unconditional present. (p.82)
Schniewind then turns to the problem, how Geschichte and Historie relate to each other, a problem that he traces back to at least Martin Kähler (p.82).
Geschichte means the mutual encounter of persons, Historie the causal nexus in the affairs of men. The latter is the subject matter of historical science, which seeks to divest itself of all presuppositions and prejudices and to establish objective facts. Geschichte, on the other hand, cannot achieve such impartiality, for the encounter which it implies vitally affects our personal existence: it demands resolve and decision, yes or no, love or hate. (p.82)
[[RCK: One wonders where Schniewind got that distinction of Geschichte and Historie from, maybe this is Kähler 1892, like Schniewind writes; cf. (p.82).]]

Schniewind now denies that it possible to "run away" from the relativism of Historie to Geschichte, as Bultmann seems to do (p.83).
We cannot reject Historie because it is not vitally present for us and accept Geschichte because it is so. (p.83)
[The, RCK] ...  inseparability of the historic-contingent and the historical-relative reappears in historical research on the level of scientific thought. The mainspring of historical research is historic encounter, and the uniqueness of events, whether singly or collectively. On the other hand, all historical research worth the name leads simply in the pursuit of its pre- || cision work to the question of decision, to the historic encounter. (pp.83f)
Schniewind then loses steam and returns to the preservation of the "skandalon" (p.86) in Bultmann's reconstruction.
Bultmann says .... commenting on the mythoi of the Pastoral Epistles, that every religion rejects the claims of its opposite numbers as myths, and claims absolute truth for itself. (p.86)
Instead, Schniewind ends up reconstructing a different anthropological constant, the desire for rebirth, which he finds even in Indian philosophy (p.94).

Bultmann's Reply

Eschatology tells us the meaning and the goal of the time process, but that answer does not consist in a philosophy of history, like pantheism, where the meaning and goal of history are to be seen in each successive moment, or like the belief in progress, where the goal is realized in a future Utopia, or myth, which offers an elaborate picture of the end of the world.  (p.116)
Indeed, eschatology is not at all concerned with the meaning and goal of secular history, for secular history belongs to the old aeon, and therefore can have neither meaning nor goal. It is concerned rather with the meaning and goal of the history of the individual and of the eschatological community. (p.116)
Bultmann is also very clear on the kerygmatic, non-historical style of the New Testament.
Neither St Paul nor St John mediate an historic encounter with the historic Jesus. Even if the synoptic gospels appear to do so, that is only when they are read in the light of the historical problems which have arisen since their day, not when they are read in their original sense. (p.117)
To understand Jesus as the eschatological phenomenon ... is to proclaim that he has come, and that is what St John does so clearly. (p.117) 

Bibliographic Record

Rudolf BULTMANN, Ernst LOHMEYER, Julius SCHNIEWIND, Helmuth THIELICKE, Austin FARRER, Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate, edited by Hans Werner BARTSCH, translated by Reginald HORACE, New York -- Evanston (Harper and Row), 1961.

Demythologizing Debate: Part I---Bultmann

The following discusses the versions of Bultmann and others' essays on demythologizing that were published in the USA in the 1960s. (For a useful German summary of Bultmann's argument and the basics of criticism, see this slide presentation here.)

Rudolf Bultmann

Bultmann describes the tripartite structure of the NT world which the narratives assume (pp.1f).
History does not follow a smooth unbroken course; it is set in motion and controlled by these supernatural powers [i.e. "God and his angels on the one hand, Satan and his daemons on the other", RCK]. (p.1)
Not only is that mythical framework non-specific to the message of the NT, for it is found in the contemporary literature, such as the Jewish Apocalyptic and Gnosticism (p.3), but it is also a hindrance for acceptance.
To this extent the kerygma is incredible to modern man, for he is convinced that the mythical view of the world is obsolete. (p.3)
 And Bultmann is adamant that forcing acceptance of the past worldview is a non-starter.
Can Christian preaching expect modern man to accept the mythical view of the world as true? To do so would be both senseless and impossible. It would be senseless, because there is nothing specifically Christian in the mythical view of the world as such. It is simply the cosmology of a pre-scientific age. Again, it would be impossible, because no man can adopt a view of the world by his own volition---it is already determined for him by his place in history. (p.4)
Bultmann allows that people can contribute to the revolution of their worldview, but makes strong requirements on the input, "a new set of facts so compelling as to make his previous view of the world untenable" (p.3)---considering the Copernican revolution, the atomic theory, Romanticism ("with its discovery that the human subject is richer and more complex than enlightenment or idealism had allowed") and [sadly, RCK] nationalism.

Bultmann allows that "truths which a shallow enlightenment had failed to perceive are later rediscovered in ancient myths" (p.3), but this is no argument for the shift of the worldview.
A blind acceptance of the New Testament || mythology ... would mean accepting a view of the world in our faith and religion which we would deny in our everyday life. (pp.3f)
Bultmann glosses such a requirement as the worst a Lutheran can state, that "would be to reduce faith to works" (p.4).

Bultmann almost brutally spells out all the assumptions that we no longer share with the NT, to illustrate the impossibility of the request. The three-story setup is gone, there is no heaven above and no hell below. Stars are not daemons and exhibit no malevolence through sickness or cure.
We can no longer look for the return of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven or hope that the faithful will meet him in the air (1 Thess 4:15ff). (p.4) 
And if we are still left with certain physiological and psychological phenomena which we can only assign to mysterious and enigmatic causes, we are still assigning them to causes, and thus far are trying to make them scientifically intelligible. (p.5)
This is especially true for the mythical eschatology, which did not even take place in the NT worldview.
... the parousia of Christ never took place as the New Testament expected. History did not come to an end, .... Even if we believe that the world as we know it will come to an end in time, we expect the end to take the form of a natural catastrophe, not of a mythical event such as the New Testament expects. (p.5) 
Bultmann also points out the other aspects of the anthropology that are no longer shared.
Biological man cannot see how a supernatural entity like the pneuma can penetrate within the close texture of his natural powers and set to work within him. (p.6)
Even the idea of death as a punishment of sin is closely woven into that worldview and incompatible with the present understanding (p.7).
 ... to attribute human mortality to the fall of Adam is sheer nonsense, for guilt implies personal responsibility, and the idea of original sin as an inherited infection is sub-ethical, irrational and absurd. (p.7)
The notion of atonement is equally primitive in its notions of "guilt and righteousness" and even of "God" (p.7).

Bultmann now turns to the solutions, which are few and difficult, because of the way the concepts and ideas are semantically connected (p.9). Even isolated theologumena like the Virgin Birth cannot be excised, because they depend on the no more acceptable "mythical character of the event of redemption as a whole" (p.9).
At this point absolute clarity and ruthless honesty are essential both for the academic theologian and for the parish priest. ... They must make it quite clear what their hearers are expected to accept and what they are not. At all costs the preacher must no leave his people in the dark about what he secretly eliminates, nor must he be in the dark about it himself. (p.9)
Bultmann crushingly mentions Karl Barth's Die Auferstehung der Toten, Munich (Chr Kaiser) 1924 as an example of a dishonest or hidden demythologizing. And Bultmann accepts the possibility that the NT might turn out to be not relevant to the modern world.
The question is simply whether the New Testament message consists exclusively of mythology, or whether it actually demands the elimination of myth if it is to be understood as it is meant to be. (p.10)
In a quick footnote, Bultmann clarifies his notion of Myth, which he takes from the religionsgeschichtliche Schule (p.10 Fn 2); and he specifically rejects the notion of myth "that is practically equivalent to ideology" (p.10) [and here he means the NS use, as in Rosenberg and similar, RCK].
The real purpose of myth is to speak of a transcendent power which controls the world and man, but that purpose is impeded and obscured by the terms in which it is expressed. (p.11)
Bultmann believes that the New Testament invites such demythologizing because of the incongruencies between the mythological solutions of the different parts.
The kenosis of the pre-existent Son (Phil 2:6ff) is incompatible with the miracle narratives as proofs of his messianic claims. The Virgin birth is inconsistent with the assertion of his pre-existence. (p.11)
Bultmann notes especially the contradiction between man subjected to cosmic forces and man agentive.
Side by side with the Pauline indicative stands the Pauline imperative. (p.11)
... this explains why so many saying in the New Testament speak directly to modern man's condition while others remain enigmatic and obscure. (p.12)
Bultmann complains that the liberal theology of the turn to the 20th century was already working on this problem, but botched the task by ditching the kerygma as well.
 ... whereas the older liberals [e.g. Harnack, cf. (p.13), RCK] used criticism to eliminate the mythology of the New Testament, our task to-day is to use criticism to interpret it. ... the criterion adopted must be taken not from modern thought, but from the understanding of human existence which the New Testament itself enshrines. (p.12)
Bultmann reminds us that already the allegorical mode of interpretation was an early form of demythologizing (p.13). Bultmann then uses Harnack's notion [from What is Christianity, most likely a translation of Wesen des Christentums, RCK] of the kingdom of God to show how liberal theology went too far.
 For the liberals, the great truths of religion and ethics are timeless and eternal, though it is only within human history that they are realized, and only in concrete historical processes that they are given clear expression. (p.13)
In this model,
 History may be of academic interest, but never of paramount importance for religion. (p.13)
But the New Testament speaks of an event through which God has wrought man's redemption. For it, Jesus is not primarily the teacher, ... his person is just what the New Testament proclaims as the decisive event of redemption. (p.14)
The discovery of mythology in the NT is due to the religionsgeschichtliche Schule (p.14) [e.g. Ernst Troeltsch, cf. (p.15), RCK], and their solution was to focus on the religious life as portrayed in the NT. Bultmann considers this a key insight.
Christian faith is not the same as religious idealism; the Christian life does not consist in developing the individual personality, in the improvement of society, or in making the world a better place. The Christian life means a turning away from the world, a detachment from it. (p.14)
However, that detachment is "essentially eschatological  and not mystical" (p.14), understanding the Church as the institution of worship, and thus religious (p.15). But they failed to grasp the eschatological aspect and still do not give sufficient sense of the event character.

Bultmann now points to the work of Hans Jonas, who gave an existentialist interpretation of Gnosticism in Gnosis und spätantiker Geist, Teil 1: Die mythologische Gnosis, 1934. Bultmann wants to take a leaf from Jonas in his work on demythologizing the twin roots of the NT, the Jewish apocalypse and Gnosticism (p.16).
Our task is to produce an existentialist interpretation of the dualistic mythology of the New Testament along similar lines. (p.16)
This will not be a scientific anthropology, but rather "a definite understanding of existence, which is invariably the consequence of a deliberate decision of the" anthropologist (p.16).

Bultmann first explicates the Christian notion of Being (p.17), which is tied to the Pauline notion of flesh (sarx) (p.18), whose chief concern is security (p.19). Thus, in the demythologizing reformulation, Bultmann can write,
Everybody tries to hold fast to his own life and property, because he has a secret feeling that it is all slipping away from him. (p.19)
Conversely, the life of faith focuses on the "unseen, intangible realities" (p.19) and the "abandonment of all self-contrived security" (p.19). This is achieved through a worldly detachment, not asketic, but "as if not" (hos me) (p.20). Bultmann sees this intention most clearly expressed in the Gospel of John "by completely eliminating every trace of apocalyptic eschatology" (p.20).
Life in faith is not a possession at all. It cannot be exclusively expressed in indicative terms; it needs an imperative to complete it. (p.21)
Thus, though Paul shares the belief in the miracles of the Spirit (p.21), the notion can be transformed by taking it to mean "live after the Spirit, not after the flesh" (p.22), and thus making man "capable of fellowship in community" (p.22).

Now the event of redemption, which Bultmann had earlier claimed the old liberals (Harnack) and the religionsgeschichtliche Schule (Troeltsch) had lost, has to be demythologized (p.22).
Faith, in the strict sense of the word, was only there at a certain moment in history. It had to be revealed, it came (Gal 3.23; 25).  (p.22)
After a sketch of a Warburg-Dilthey letter exchange, and a tip-of-the-hat to Karl Jaspers, Bultmann writes
Above all, Heidegger's existentialist analysis of the ontological structure of being would seem to be no more than a secularized, philosophical version of the New Testament view of human life. For him the chief characteristic of man's Being in history is anxiety. (p.24)
Some critics have objected that I am borrowing Heidegger's categories and forcing them upon the New Testament. (p.25)
Bultmann insists that a secularized form of Christianity, in the way Heidegger or Kamlah (pp.25f), should not surprise, because it is the logical consequence of there being "nothing mysterious or supernatural about the Christian life" (p.27).
Eschatological existence [according to the NT, RCK] is an attainable ideal because "the fulness of time has come" and God has sent his Son "that he might deliver us out of this present evil world" (Gal 4:4; 1:4). (p.28) 
But Bultmann insists with the NT that only the "Christian believers", "only those who have opened their hearts to the redemptive action of God" can attain the ideal. This is because "man has lost the actual possibility, and even his awareness of his authentic manhood [i.e. humanity, RCK] is perverted" (p.29). Even the philosophical belief that showing the true nature of humanity will suffice to start the change is such a delusion.
The glorying of the Jew over his faithfulness to the law and the || glorying of the Gnostic in his wisdom are both illustrations of the dominant attitude of man, of his independence and autonomy which lead in the end to frustration. (pp.29f)
So in practice authentic life becomes possible only when man is delivered from himself. It is the claim of the New Testament that this is exactly what has happened. This is precisely the meaning of that which was wrought in Christ. (p.31)
Love is the fulfilment of the law, and therefore the forgiveness of God delivers man from himself and makes him free to devote his life to the service of others (Rom 13:9-10; 5.14). (p.32)
The event of Jesus Christ is therefore the revelation of the love of God. (p.32)
Only those who have received confidence as a gift can show confidence in others. (p.33)
The New Testament speaks and faith knows of an act of God through which man becomes capable of self-commitment, capable of faith and love, of his authentic life. (p.33)
This then poses the question
Have we carried our demythologizing far enough? Are we still left with a myth, or at least an event which bears a mythical character? (p.33)
Demythologizing that event is then the next and decisive problem (p.34).
We have here [in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, RCK] a quinte combination of history and myth. The New Testament claims that this Jesus of history, whose father and mother were well known to his contemporaries (Joh 6:42) is at the same time the pre-existent Son of God, and side by side with the historical event of the crucifixion it sets the definitely non-historical event of the resurrection. (p.34)
Bultmann claims that the difficulty of this conception produced the inconsistencies that mar the New Testament as unifiable book.
The doctrine of Christ's pre-existence as given by St Paul and St John is difficult to reconcile with the legend of the Virgin birth in St Matthew and St Luke. On the one hand we hear that "he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man ..." (Phil 2:7), and on the other hand we have the gospel portraits of a Jesus who manifests is divinity in his miracles, omniscience, and mysterious elusiveness, and the similar description of him in Acts as "Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto you by his mighty works and wonders and signs" (Acts 2:22). On the one hand we have the resurrection as the exaltation of Jesus from the cross or || grave, and on the other the legends of the empty tomb and the ascension. (pp.34f)
And the core of the event structure is of course the cross itself (p.35).
The Jesus who was crucified was the pre-existent, incarnate Son of God, and as such he was without sin. ... This mythological interpretation is a mixture of sacrificial and juridical analogies, which have ceased to be tenable for us to-day. (p.35)
... the cross is not just an event of the past which can be contemplated, but its the eschatological event in and beyond time, in so far as it (understood in its significance, that is, for faith) is an ever-present reality. (p.36)
And to underline the existential interpretation driving this, Bultmann writes:
In its redemptive aspect the cross of Christ is no mere mythical event, but a historic (geschichtlich) fact originating in the historical (historisch) event which is the crucifixion of Jesus. (p.37)
And now Bultmann chastises mythical language for its short-comings.
In the last resort mythological language is only a medium for conveying the significance of the historical (historisch) event. The historical (historisch) event of the cross has, in the significance peculiar to it, created a new historic (geschichtlich) situation.
However this "event of past history" is intrinsically tied to the resurrection, but that produces a problem, because Bultmann believes that the following two statements hold concurrently.
Cross and resurrection form a single, indivisible cosmic event which brings judgement to the world and opens up for men the possibility of authentic life. (p.39)
An historical fact which involves a resurrection from the dead is utterly inconceivable. (p.39)
Bultmann insists that any proof function of the cosmological event is nonsense.
... the resurrection of Jesus cannot be miraculous proof by which the sceptic might be compelled to believe in Christ. (p.39) 
... the real difficulty is that the resurrection is itself an article of faith, and you cannot establish one article of faith by invoking another. You cannot prove the redemptive efficacy of the cross by invoking the resurrection. (p.40)
 ... the bare miracle tells us nothing about the eschatological fact of the destruction of death. Moreover, such a miracle is not otherwise unknown to mythology [and therefore does not constitute an exclusive part of the Christian message, RCK]. (p.40)
... the New Testament is interested in the resurrection of Christ simply and solely because it is the eschatological event par excellence. (p.40) 
Bultmann conceptualizes the resurrection as an expression of the efficacy of the cross (p.41).
... it is the cross of Christ because it has this saving efficacy. Without that efficacy it is the tragic end of a great man. (p.41)
And this brings Bultmann back to the message.
Christ meets us in the preaching as one crucified and risen. (p.41)
... in accepting the word of preaching as the word of God and the death and resurrection of Christ as the eschatological event, we are given an opportunity of understanding ourselves. (p.41)
In discussing the Easter Day, Bultmann re-iterates:
The resurrection itself is not an event of past history. All that historical criticism can establish is the fact that the first disciples came to believe in the resurrection. (p.42)
Bultmann is adamant that we cannot borrow the faith "of the first disciples and so  eliminate the element of risk" involved (p.42).
... the apostolic preaching which originated in the event of Easter Day is itself a part of the eschatological event of redemption. ... Through the word of preaching the cross and the resurrection are made present: the eschatological "now" is here ... || That is why the apostolic preaching brings judgement. (pp.42f)
And the Church continues to participate in that eschatological event.
The word "Church" (ekklesia) is an eschatological term, while its designation as the Body of Christ emphasizes its cosmic significance. For the Church is not just a phenomenon of secular history, it is a phenomenon of significant history, in the sense that it realizes itself in history. (p.43)
Bultmann does draw the line there, not allowing the speaking of God to be classified as myth directly. He maintains however the paradox of the kerygma that it is both a historical event and an eschatological event (p.44), an offense that no philosophical discussion can lift.
It is precisely its immunity from proof which secures the Christian proclamation against the charge of being mythological. The transcendence of God is not as in myth reduced to immanence. (p.44)

Bibliographic Record

Rudolf BULTMANN, Ernst LOHMEYER, Julius SCHNIEWIND, Helmuth THIELICKE, Austin FARRER, Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate, edited by Hans Werner BARTSCH, translated by Reginald HORACE, New York -- Evanston (Harper and Row), 1961.