Numbered among his opponents, Rudolf Bultmann argued for a divorce between the two, but their approaches remain similar in many aspects. In his book Jesus von Nazareth , [c] Bornkamm expressed the profound difficulties of researching the historical Jesus and wished to produce a work that would inform not only professional theologians on the many questions, uncertainties, and findings of historical research, but also the laymen who would wish, so far as possible, to arrive at an historical understanding of the tradition about Jesus and should not be content with edifying or romantic portrayals. He affirmed: If the journey into this often misty country is to succeed, then the first requirement is the readiness for free and frank questioning, and the renunciation of an attitude which simply seeks the confirmation of its own judgements arising from a background of belief or of unbelief. Mythos und Evangelium. Theologische Existenz heute.

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Bornkamm, G. Barth, and H. We are still very much in the realm of historical criticism, interested primarily in historical questions concerning early Christianity. But what is especially distinctive about this paper is its method. A few years before this, Bornkamm wrote a paper on the stilling of the storm in Matthew which in many ways revolutionised Matthean studies. Description Now, if you thought you could skim through this paper while munching your two Wheatbix this morning, you will probably have concluded that you would need a whole box of Wheatbix to get through it all!

Indeed, if you have found time to read the whole paper you may well have found the experience something like eating a whole box of Wheatbix. We get a key summary on page Now, if we left things there we would have Matthew proposing a kind of Pelagianism: a simple call to perfection so that disciples of Jesus may be vindicated at the Judgment. But Bornkamm goes on to qualify that in important ways in the rest of the paper.

Brief assessment Now this is a rich paper and there are many details in it we could take issue with or commend. But in terms of the big picture, its main strength is in demonstrating how expectation of Judgment is all-pervasive in Matthew and does indeed shape what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

But there are some important weaknesses too. Chief of those is the redaction-critical method, which only bites when there are key differences between, say, Matthew and Mark.

Whereas there is a vast amount of material common to both Matthew and Mark — on spiritual blindness and the necessity of the cross, for example — which would take us much more firmly onto solid ground, but which gets ignored.

Nevertheless, it is remarkable how far you can get with a method that works only some of the time! Share this:.


Günther Bornkamm




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