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Demythologization Essay Writing

1Vanhoozer, Kevin J., Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion, and Authorship (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010) 15.

5Ibid., 17. The poet Robert Duncan delivered a more belligerent version of this critique in his 1968 manifesto, “The Truth and Life of Myth”: “The voice [Bultmann] impersonates here [in a previously quoted passage from the 1941 programmatic lecture] is a voice that has again and again, sneering or pitying or condescending, reproved the poet for his pathetic fallacies, his phantasmagoria, his personifications, ecstatic realizations, pretensions. . . . [Bultmann] reproves the imagination itself” (“The Truth and Life of Myth: An Essay in Essential Autobiography [1968],” in Collected Essays and Other Prose [ed. James Maynard; Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014] 139–94, at 158). I hope to show that, when Bultmann speaks of myth, he does not have something generic, like “imagination,” in mind.

6 For example, one cannot criticize Bultmann for failing to recognize that “the forms of biblical discourse” are themselves necessary and indispensable, as if this should have been obvious to him, since that is the very issue that Bultmann disputes. The first to argue this position against Bultmann was Helmut Thielicke in 1942. Thielicke correctly saw that defending the necessity of myth requires defending a certain account of the relation between nature and grace, where grace assumes and perfects a natural “point of connection” that includes ancient mythology. His rejection of Bultmann thus required the adoption of natural theology (“Die Frage der Entmythologisierung des Neuen Testaments [1942],” in Kerygma und Mythos, Band I. Ein theologisches Gespräch [ed. Hans-Werner Bartsch; Hamburg: Reich, 1948] 177–210, esp. 195–208). Asserting the necessity of mythical discourse without affirming natural theology results in an incoherent position, as Bultmann already saw in 1961. In his final clarification of demythologizing, he observes that “it is often said that religion as well as Christian faith cannot do without mythological talk.” But either this means that the images and symbols of myth are themselves revelation—hence natural theology—or they are a contextualization of revelation that can be interpreted within a different cultural-linguistic form. If the meaning of mythological talk can only be expressed in the same mythological talk, then “its meaning must again be interpreted—and so on in infinitum” (“Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung [1961],” in Glauben und Verstehen. Gesammelte Aufsätze [4 vols.; Tübingen: Mohr, 1933–1965] 4:128–37, at 134–35). Hereafter Glauben und Verstehen cited as GuV. All German translations in this article are my own. While there are English translations for many of the pieces cited, they are often unreliable, and trying to cite both versions quickly becomes cumbersome.

7 I especially have Buri and Ogden in mind here, both of whom are clear about their rejection of Bultmann's adherence to the exclusive normativity of God's revelation in Christ. They thus approach Bultmann's demythologizing hermeneutic assuming this program supports their own project and then charge him with inconsistency when it does not. One finds a more accurate interpretation in the work of Eberhard Jüngel, who rightly sees demythologizing as grounded in and in service to God's revelation in Christ (Gottes Sein ist im Werden. Verantwortliche Rede vom Sein Gottes bei Karl Barth. Eine Paraphrase [4th ed.; Tübingen: Mohr, 1986] 23–24, 33–34; idem, “Die Wahrheit des Mythos und die Notwendigkeit der Entmythologisierung [1990],” in Indikative der Gnade – Imperative der Freiheit. Theologische Erörterungen 4 [Tübingen: Mohr, 2000] 40–57).

8Peckruhn, Heike, “Rudolf Bultmann,” in Beyond the Pale: Reading Theology from the Margins (ed. De La Torre, Miguel A. and Floyd-Thomas, Stacey M.; Louisville, KY: WJK, 2011) 191–200, at 191.

11Ibid., 195. Peckruhn is here drawing on Shawn Kelley's recent work, which argues that Bultmann's interpretations “are racialized, irrespective of Bultmann's intentions,” on the grounds that the “fundamental structure” of his thought is determined by “Heideggerian categories” (Kelley, Shawn, Racializing Jesus: Race, Ideology, and the Formation of Modern Biblical Scholarship [London: Routledge, 2002] 141, 159 [italics in original]). This is not the place to address Kelley's critique of Bultmann in any detail, which rests on the illegitimate conflation of Bultmann's theological judgments and his philosophical conceptuality, as well as a basic misunderstanding of each aspect. The point here is that Kelley at least indicates a tension in Bultmann, insofar as he was a vocal opponent of Nazi antisemitism and actively supported the Jews in Germany. Peckruhn's summary of Kelley lacks this nuance entirely and so portrays Bultmann even more negatively and simplistically.

12Schnelle, Udo, Theologie des Neuen Testaments (Stuttgart: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2007) 162 n. 64.

13Hart, David Bentley, The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003) 22.

14Evans, C. Stephen, The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith: The Incarnational Narrative as History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996) 64.

15 For example, Tim Labron is correct when he says that “Bultmann is not trying to tie the kerygma to science or any one perspective to make it more acceptable. . . . Demythologizing does not take the modern view as the benchmark to fit into” (Bultmann Unlocked [London: T & T Clark, 2011] 36).

16Jüngel, Eberhard, “Glauben und Verstehen: Zum Theologiebegriff Rudolf Bultmanns,” in Wertlose Wahrheit. Zur Identität und Relevanz des christlichen Glaubens – Theologische Erörterungen III (Munich: Kaiser, 1990) 16–77, at 68.

17 Jüngel, Gottes Sein ist im Werden, 41 n. 116.

18 I use the word “liberal” here to refer to the tradition of nineteenth-century German theology descended from Friedrich Schleiermacher and synthesized by Albrecht Ritschl, represented in Bultmann's time by Adolf von Harnack and Ernst Troeltsch. Liberal theology is not simply the reinterpretation of Christian doctrine under the conditions of modernity; it is instead the systematic and strategic coordination of Christian faith and modern European culture.

19 See Jüngel, “Die Wahrheit des Mythos und die Notwendigkeit der Entmythologisierung,” 45–46.

20 It does not help Bultmann's reputation that Thomas Lewis draws a connection between demythologizing and Hegel's conceptualization of religion, given Hegel's reputation (“Religion and Demythologization in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit,” in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit: A Critical Guide [ed. Dean Moyar and Michael Quante; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008] 192–209). Cyril O'Regan made this connection back in 1994, when he described Hegel's representation of Christian religion as a “demythologization” that is actually “Christianity-friendly in a way the other modern forms are not. Indeed, his demythologization . . . is necessary to subvert the hostile demythologization that Hegel thought was well under way in his own day” (The Heterodox Hegel [Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994] 334). Hegel's demythologizing is Christianity-friendly, according to O'Regan, because it preserves the content of Christian faith. As Lewis points out, however, “one person's friend may be another's foe,” and indeed scholars like William Desmond see Hegel as a threat to Christianity on the grounds that he loses divine transcendence. “The fact that Hegel sees the elevation of religious representation into thought as a ‘friendly’ process does not mean that everyone will. The transformation does abandon aspects of religion that some view as a matter of content rather than form” (Lewis, Thomas A., Religion, Modernity, and Politics in Hegel [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011] 164; cf. Desmond, William, Hegel's God: A Counterfeit Double? [Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2003] 6). Lewis's comments regarding Hegel apply mutatis mutandis to Bultmann. Nevertheless, one cannot accuse Bultmann of lacking divine transcendence. In fact, that is the very doctrine that funds his entire hermeneutical program, as Jüngel has pointed out (Jüngel, “Die Wahrheit des Mythos und die Notwendigkeit der Entmythologisierung,” 50).

21 Erich Przywara speaks for many when he says that “Harnack and, more recently, Bultmann sought to eradicate the offensive ‘mysterium’ (Harnack) and the offensive ‘mythos’ (Bultmann), in order to attain a ‘pure’ (de-mysticized [ent-mysterisiertes] and demythologized) Christianity” (Analogia Entis. Metaphysik. Ur-Struktur und All-Rhythmus [Schriften 3; Einsiedeln: Johannes, 1962] 352).

22Bultmann, Rudolf, Neues Testament und Mythologie. Das Problem der Entmythologisierung der neutestamentlichen Verkündigung (ed. Jüngel, Eberhard; Munich: Kaiser, 1985) 22–23 n. 20; idem, “Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung,” in Kerygma und Mythos, Band II. Diskussion und Stimmen zum Problem der Entmythologisierung (ed. Hans-Werner Bartsch; Hamburg-Volksdorf: Reich, 1952) 179–208, at 180.

23 Bultmann, Neues Testament und Mythologie, 16.

24 See Nestle, Wilhelm, Vom Mythos zum Logos. Die Selbstentfaltung des griechischen Denkens von Homer bis auf die Sophistik und Sokrates (Stuttgart: Kröner, 1940).

25 See Bultmann, Rudolf, Theologie als Kritik. Ausgewählte Rezensionen und Forschungsberichte (ed. Dreher, Matthias and Müller, Klaus W.; Tübingen: Mohr, 2002) 394–97.

26Bultmann, Rudolf, “Über den Begriff ‘Mythos’ [ca. 1942–1952],” in Bultmann–Althaus Briefwechsel 1929–1966 (ed. Dreher, Matthias and Jasper, Gotthard; Tübingen: Mohr, 2012) 89–96. While the essay was unpublished, there is no indication that it represents views that Bultmann later rejected. Many of Bultmann's most important writings remained unpublished during his lifetime, including his 1941 lecture on “Theology as Science” and his lectures on theological encyclopedia from 1926–1936, which he explicitly wanted to see in print; both were finally published in 1984 (“Theologie als Wissenschaft,” ZThK 81 [1984] 447–69; idem, Theologische Enzyklopädie [ed. Eberhard Jüngel and Klaus W. Müller; Tübingen: Mohr, 1984]). Moreover, many of the ideas in the essay are stated similarly elsewhere, both in his review of Nestle's book and in his later 1952 essay, “Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung.” For these reasons, German scholars have been referring to the essay for several years now. See, for example, Dreher, Matthias, Rudolf Bultmann als Kritiker in seinen Rezensionen und Forschungsberichten. Kommentierende Auswertung (Münster: Lit, 2005) 338–39; Zager, Werner, “Zwischen Kerygma und Mythos. Karl Jaspers’ und Rudolf Bultmanns Beitrag zur Debatte über die Entmythologisierung der Bibel,” in Mensch und Mythos. Im Gespräch mit Rudolf Bultmann (ed. Zager, Werner; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 2010) 29–58, at 41–42. See also Dreher, Matthias, “Exegetisch-theologischer Kommentar,” in Bultmann–Althaus Briefwechsel 1929–1966 (ed. Dreher, Matthias and Jasper, Gotthard; Tübingen: Mohr, 2012) 117–19.

27 Bultmann, “Über den Begriff ‘Mythos,’” 94.

28Ibid., 95. In all of his essays on myth, Bultmann uses the terms myth, mythology, and mythical/mythological thinking almost interchangeably. Generally, though, the terms myth and mythical thinking are used more positively, while mythology and mythological thinking are used more pejoratively.

31Ibid., 94. In contrast to myth, Bultmann writes, “it is precisely science that is concerned with the totality of beings, with τὰ πάντα [all things]. This indicates both the beginning of western science—its origin in the question of the ἀρχή [origin], from which the whole cosmos is rationally understandable as a structured unity—and its fulfillment in antiquity in Aristotle” (ibid., 93).

32Bultmann, Rudolf, “Der christliche Sinn von Glaube, Liebe, Hoffnung. Skizze des am 11. Juni 1925 vor der 50. Versammlung evangelischer Religionslehrer an den höheren Lehranstalten der Rheinprovinz gehaltenen Vortrages,” ZEvRU36 (1925) 170.

33Ibid. All emphasis in original unless otherwise noted.

34 Bultmann, “Über den Begriff ‘Mythos,’” 95.

35 Rudolf Bultmann, “Wissenschaft und Existenz [1955],” in GuV 3:107–21, at 108.

36 Bultmann, “Über den Begriff ‘Mythos,’” 89.

38 Bultmann, Theologie als Kritik, 396.

39 Jüngel, “Die Wahrheit des Mythos und die Notwendigkeit der Entmythologisierung,” 49–50.

40 In his emphasis on the situation of the individual believer, Bultmann stands in the tradition of the Protestant reformers, particularly Luther and Calvin, who rejected the Roman Catholic doctrine of fides implicita and insisted that sin is something for which individuals are guilty first and foremost, and thus justification is primarily a relation between God and the individual believer.

41 Secular myth-theorists understand this aspect of Bultmann better than his theological critics. Robert Segal correctly observes that “as a religious existentialist . . . Bultmann takes myth to be preserving the reality of God, simply of a nonphysical god [sic]. . . . Bultmann retains an ancient myth with its God” (Segal, Robert A., “Does Myth Have a Future?” in Myth and Method [ed. Patton, Laurie L. and Doniger, Wendy; Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1996] 82–106, at 93).

42 Bultmann, Neues Testament und Mythologie, 32.

44Bultmann, Rudolf, “Antwort an Karl Jaspers [1953],” in Kerygma und Mythos, Band III. Das Gespräch mit der Philosophie (ed. Bartsch, Hans-Werner; Hamburg-Volksdorf: H. Reich, 1954) 49–59, at 57. We cannot emphasize this soteriological point strongly enough. The most widespread criticism of Bultmann is that he reduces theology to anthropology and confines Christian truth to an inner, spiritual realm apart from the world. And it is further supposed by many that Bultmann adopts this view from Kant and Heidegger, as if it were grounded in some extratheological philosophy. Amos Wilder thus asks: “Do we move as he [Bultmann] does from the pictorial and representational character of the myth to its supposed meaning for the heart alone? Or should we not recognize that the symbol, for all its imaginative and ancient character, yet tells us something Christian not only about ourselves but also about the visible world of time and space and about the work of God in a real world process? Our choice here rests in part upon our view of mythological language and cultural symbol, and our view as to what kind of truth they possess. Existentialism sees this truth as truth primarily about man. . . . Demythologizing at this point appears to rest upon a sceptical legacy from the thought of Kant” (Early Christian Rhetoric: The Language of the Gospel [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971] 125–26). Wilder operates under the misunderstanding that Bultmann's concept of myth is basically equivalent to other literary devices, such as symbol and image, but we can set that aside for now. Wilder's more serious misunderstanding concerns his view that the truth of myth in Bultmann is anthropological. While it is true that Bultmann denies that revelation gives us general knowledge about the world and history, he grounds this view on a strictly theological claim regarding the nature of our justification in Christ. The truth of myth is soteriological, and only for this reason is it anthropological. But because it is soteriological, Bultmann denies that we can responsibly interpret it as giving general knowledge about the empirical world. That would be to turn myth into science and thereby to abandon the truth of myth altogether.

45 Bultmann, “Antwort an Karl Jaspers,” 56. Bultmann, like Barth, makes the first commandment the axiom of theology (Barth, Karl, “Das erste Gebot als theologisches Axiom [1933],” in Vorträge und kleinere Arbeiten 1930–1933 [ed. Beintker, Michael, Hüttenhoff, Michael, and Zocher, Peter; Gesamtausgabe 3; Zürich: TVZ, 2013] 209–41). This is ironic, since Barth's 1933 lecture was directed in large part against Bultmann.

46 Bultmann, “Antwort an Karl Jaspers,” 50.

47 Bultmann can thus declare in 1952 that the program of demythologizing is simply “the consistent application of [the doctrine of justification through faith alone] to the field of knowledge” (“Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung,” 207).

49 Bultmann, “Über den Begriff ‘Mythos,’” 90.

50 Jüngel, “Die Wahrheit des Mythos und die Notwendigkeit der Entmythologisierung,” 49–50.

51 “Myth slips from its original meaning and starts to become a primitive science” whenever it “encompass[es] τὰ πάντα” (Bultmann, “Über den Begriff ‘Mythos,’” 92). The apocalyptic theology of Second Temple Judaism represents, for Bultmann, a classic example of existential myth sliding into primitive science: “One can see . . . this in the prophetic theology of history. The mythical view of history is of course first formed in Jewish apocalyptic, in which mythical thinking has already slipped into scientific thinking; for apocalyptic thinking, like that of Gnosticism, is a mixture of mythological and scientific thinking” (ibid., 93).

53 The distinction can be traced back to Wilhelm Dilthey and comes down to the difference between 1) our given (i.e., generally prereflective) cultural preunderstanding regarding the world in which we live and 2) a specific, determinate understanding of our place within this world. Bultmann first makes this distinction in his 1925 essay, “What Does It Mean to Speak of God?” There he says that a world-picture is “conceptualized without regard for our own existence.” It is an understanding of the world in which “we consider ourselves rather as an object among other objects and so positioned in the context of this world-picture that has been constructed without regard for the question of our own existence.” It naturally follows that a worldview takes existence into consideration: “it is customary to call the completion of such a world-picture through the insertion of humanity a worldview” (“Welchen Sinn hat es, von Gott zu reden? [1925],” in GuV 1:26–37, at 31). He clarifies his definition of Weltbild many years later in a 1953 conversation: “I am of the opinion that all people, whether they live in a mythical age or an enlightened age, have a Weltbild, live in a Weltbild, by which I naturally do not mean that this Weltbild must be a closed and systematic Weltbild. The fact that people can go about their daily activities and communicate with their fellow human beings all presupposes that a definite Weltbild is taken for granted” (Die christliche Hoffnung und das Problem der Entmythologisierung [Stuttgart: Evangelisches Verlagswerk, 1954] 46–47).

54 Bultmann, Neues Testament und Mythologie, 12.

56 Bultmann, “Über den Begriff ‘Mythos,’” 92. For Bultmann, objectifying thinking (objektivierendes Denken) represents the scientific untruth that demands critique, while historical understanding (geschichtliches Verstehen) represents the existential truth of the kerygma. For more on this distinction, see Dieckmann, Bernhard, “Welt” und “Entweltlichung” in der Theologie Rudolf Bultmanns. Zum Zusammenhang von Welt- und Heilsverständnis (Munich: Schöningh, 1977) 120–27.

57 The two problems go hand-in-hand. Insofar as God is made an object of our rational control, God is also conflated with our cultural norms. To oppose the objectification of God is thus to oppose the way religion often seeks to give divine sanction for certain cultural assumptions and practices. Demythologizing is a way of recognizing the kerygma's capacity to be a critical force within the present context.

58 Bultmann is well aware of this danger. At the end of his 1925 lecture on what it means to speak of God, he concludes: “Even this speaking is a speaking about God, and as such, if there is a God, it is sin, and if there is no God, it is meaningless. Whether it is meaningful and whether it is justified cannot be decided by us” (“Welchen Sinn hat es, von Gott zu reden?” in GuV 1:37).

59 One should not make too much of Bultmann's use of the language of intention. He has little interest in the debates over “authorial intention.” In this context, he simply means it is self-evident that the text intends to portray God as a truly transcendent and saving power. Objectifying God is clearly not the goal of the text. It only appears objectifying to those of us who now read it many centuries later.

60 Bultmann, Neues Testament und Mythologie, 23. When Hart criticizes Bultmann for confining theology within an immanent causal nexus, he is describing what Bultmann himself criticizes as science and thus what he also criticizes as myth, insofar as the latter takes the corrupt form of a worldview. It is precisely to preserve the genuine transcendence of God that he engages in demythologizing.

61 Rudolf Bultmann, “Das Johannesevangelium in der neuesten Forschung [1927],” in Theologie als Kritik, 204–15, at 214. Bultmann actually broaches the idea two years earlier in his 1925 study of Mandaean and Manichaean sources in the study of the Fourth Gospel. There he speaks at length about myth as the material out of which John is formed. Near the end of the article he says that “the author [of John] is interested only in the that of the revelation, not in the what,” which means that revelation cannot be described “through speculative sentences or through mental states, because both drag revelation down into the human sphere. It cannot be said of God how God is, but only that God is. The divine is not in any way given and describable” (“Die Bedeutung der neuerschlossenen mandäischen und manichäischen Quellen für das Verständnis des Johannesevangeliums [1925],” in idem, Exegetica. Aufsätze zur Erforschung des Neuen Testaments [ed. Erich Dinkler; Tübingen: Mohr, 1967] 55–104, at 103).

62 The language of objectification appears in relation to myth beginning with his programmatic lecture of 1941. In the unpublished essay on myth written shortly thereafter, he describes myth as “a mode of thinking and speaking that objectifies the unworldly [Unweltliche] as something worldly [Welthafte]” (Bultmann, “Über den Begriff ‘Mythos,’” 89).

63Bultmann, Rudolf, Jesus Christus und die Mythologie. Das Neue Testament im Licht der Bibelkritik (Hamburg: Furche, 1964) 17.

64 Bultmann, “Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung,” 183.

65Ibid., 184. Cf. Bultmann, “Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung (1961),” in GuV 4:134.

66 It is therefore ironic that Vanhoozer charges Bultmann with replacing statements about God with statements about human beings, since Bultmann is trying to oppose precisely that problem.

67 Bultmann, “Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung,” 196.

68Barth, Karl, Rudolf Bultmann. Ein Versuch, ihn zu verstehen (Zollikon-Zürich: Evangelischer Verlag, 1952) 31–32. The reference to Alfred Rosenberg's 1930 work of Nazi propaganda, Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts, was hardly accidental. Bultmann had already publicly rejected this work in 1936, and the Confessing Church, a group of which was the audience for his demythologizing lecture, was actively involved in opposing Rosenberg (Iber, Harald, Christlicher Glaube oder rassischer Mythus. Die Auseinandersetzung der Bekennenden Kirche mit Alfred Rosenbergs “Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts” [Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 1987]). On Bultmann's lecture as a rejection of Rosenberg and Nazi propaganda, see von Meding, Wichmann, “Rudolf Bultmanns Widerstand gegen die Mythologisierung der christlichen Verkündigung,” ThZ53 (1997) 195–215.

69 Rudolf Bultmann to Karl Barth, 11–15 November 1952, in Barth, Karl and Bultmann, Rudolf, Briefwechsel 1911–1966 (ed. Jaspert, Bernd; 2nd ed.; Gesamtausgabe 5; Zürich: TVZ, 1994) 181.

70 Bultmann, “Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung,” 180 n. 2.

72 Bultmann, “Über den Begriff ‘Mythos,’” 89.

73 Kevin Hector calls this shoehorning of God “metaphysics,” which he characterizes in terms of essentialism and correspondentism: “Metaphysics fits God . . . into an essentialist-correspondentist framework, such that God, too, is conceived as an object which corresponds to one's preconceptions. That is to say, if God is thought to correspond to one's ideas of God, then God will be cut down to size like any other object. . . . Metaphysical theism thus appears guilty of a particular sort of idolatry, namely, that of attempting to speak of God by speaking of human persons in a loud voice.” He further points out that “a theology that does without metaphysics . . . is roughly equivalent to one that does without natural theology (in Barth's sense) and objectification (in Bultmann's)” (Theology without Metaphysics: God, Language, and the Spirit of Recognition [Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011] 13, 3 n. 2).

74 The first to really explore this idea was Schubert Ogden in his 1961 study, Christ without Myth. My argument for an understanding of demythologizing as analogy differs from Ogden in that I 1) differentiate between two views of analogy in Bultmann (negative and positive) and 2) deny Ogden's constructive project in process theology, which leads him to criticize Bultmann for not expanding his view of analogy to allow for a philosophical knowledge of God (Christ without Myth: A Study Based on the Theology of Rudolf Bultmann [New York: Harper, 1961] 90–93, 147, 151). Eberhard Jüngel, while critical of Ogden's overly positive claims about demythologizing and analogy, nevertheless gestures in the direction of the present argument. In a footnote in his 1965 work, God's Being Is in Becoming, Jüngel connects what demythologizing rejects with what Karl Barth calls the “analogy of being” (analogia entis) and connects what demythologizing affirms with Barth's notion of the “analogy of faith” (analogia fidei). For Jüngel, Bultmann's program is the analogia fidei in a hermeneutical mode (Gottes Sein ist im Werden, 23–24 n. 34).

75 Bultmann, Jesus Christus und die Mythologie, 80; cf. idem, “Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung,” 196.

76 Bultmann, Theologische Enzyklopädie, 59. Cf. idem, Jesus Christus und die Mythologie, 48; idem, “Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung,” 190.

77Bultmann, Rudolf, “Die Geschichtlichkeit des Daseins und der Glaube. Antwort an Gerhardt Kuhlmann [1930],” in Neues Testament und christliche Existenz. Theologische Aufsätze (ed. Lindemann, Andreas; Tübingen: Mohr, 2002) 59–83, at 70.

78 Rudolf Bultmann, “Wahrheit und Gewißheit [1929],” in Theologische Enzyklopädie, 201.

79 Bultmann, Jesus Christus und die Mythologie, 84.

80 Bultmann, “Die Geschichtlichkeit des Daseins und der Glaube,” 70.

81 Bultmann, “Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung (1961),” in GuV 4:135.

82Ibid. On the passivity of faith in Bultmann's theology, see Jüngel, “Glauben und Verstehen,” 58–61.

83 The same holds true in Barth's doctrine of analogy (Johnson, Keith L., Karl Barth and the Analogia Entis [London: T & T Clark, 2010] 11, 26, 29, 97, 108, 120, 149).

84 Bultmann, “Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung,” 196.

86 In one of his earliest essays, Bultmann calls liberal theology a “pantheism of history” (Geschichtspantheismus), in distinction from the more common “pantheism of nature” (“Die liberale Theologie und die jüngste theologische Bewegung [1924],” in GuV 1:1–25, at 5).

87 Bultmann, “Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung,” 197.

88Hays, Richard B., “Humanity Prior to the Revelation of Faith,” in Beyond Bultmann: Reckoning a New Testament Theology (ed. Longenecker, Bruce W. and Parsons, Mikeal C.; Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2014) 61–78, at 63–64.

89 It is unclear whether Hays believes this is true for Bultmann in general, for his Theology of the New Testament, or only for the chapter to which he was assigned. The section on humanity prior to faith is certainly focused on anthropological concepts in Paul, but the following section on humanity under faith contains sustained discussion of divine action. It is nigh impossible to reconcile Hays's comments with the rest of Bultmann's writings.

90 Bultmann, “Welchen Sinn hat es, von Gott zu reden?” in GuV 1:26.

93 Bultmann recognizes that the human person stands before God not as an isolated individual but as a social being. The love of God, he says, “determines me in my being-with-others” (“Das christliche Gebot der Nächstenliebe [1930],” in GuV, 1:242). But he refuses to abandon the witness of the New Testament to the necessity of personal faith. Each person is responsible before God. In that sense, the kerygmatic truth of myth is individual, though not for that reason individualistic. Bultmann is fond of saying that “a faith which concentrates on itself is just as little faith as a love which concentrates on itself is love” (Theologische Enzyklopädie, 157).

94 Bultmann, “Die liberale Theologie und die jüngste theologische Bewegung,” in GuV 1:25.

95 For a more complete defense of Bultmann see Myers, Benjamin, “Faith as Self-Understanding: Towards a Post-Barthian Appreciation of Rudolf Bultmann,” International Journal of Systematic Theology10 (2008) 21–35.

96 Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite, 22–23.

97 Bultmann, Neues Testament und Mythologie, 64.

98 Rudolf Bultmann, “Das Befremdliche des christlichen Glaubens [1958],” in GuV 3:207; idem, Das Evangelium des Johannes (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1941) 384. In both quotes the word replaced by “eschatological” is “entweltlichte,” best translated as “deworldlized.” Bultmann's concept of Entweltlichung is too complex to clarify here. The word “eschatological” captures his meaning, and he often uses the two concepts synonymously.

99 Many of the critics cited at the start of this article would affirm Bultmann's criticism of political objectification though not his criticism of mythical objectification, but they cannot have it both ways. By tying the kerygma to the cultural-linguistic forms of biblical discourse, one implies that certain objectifications or worldviews are permissible, even necessary. The question then is: on what grounds and to what extent is scripture or tradition protected from criticism, and how then does one mount a coherent response when that very act of protection produces ideological distortions of the faith?

100 Bultmann, Theologische Enzyklopädie, 8.

102 According to Konrad Hamman, “The ‘Society for Protestant Theology’ pursued its work with the goal of closely combining academic theology and church proclamation in order to be able to fend off the ideological [weltanschaulichen] attacks of the Nazi state against Christianity” (Rudolf Bultmann. Eine Biographie [Tübingen: Mohr, 2009] 308).

103 Rudolf Bultmann, “Die Frage der natürlichen Offenbarung [1941],” in GuV 2:79–104.

105 Hammann, Rudolf Bultmann, 309; italics mine. Cf. Jaspert, Bernd, “Sachkritik und Widerstand. Das Beispiel Rudolf Bultmanns,” ThLZ115 (1990) 161–82.

106Taubes, Jacob, “Zur Konjunktur des Polytheismus,” in Mythos und Moderne. Begriff und Bild einer Rekonstruktion (ed. Bohrer, Karl Heinz; Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1983) 469.

107 According to Dunson, Ben, “Demythologization is thus built on the premise that generalized truths about individual existence can be gleaned from the thoroughly mythological texts of the New Testament” (Individual and Community in Paul's Letter to the Romans [Tübingen: Mohr, 2012] 30).

108 I am grateful to the two anonymous reviewers for their astute comments.

Term adopted by Rudolf Bultmann to describe the means by which the essential truth of the gospel could be made acceptable to modern people. The world of the NT is alien to us; we cannot believe in the interventions of God or supernatural beings in the affairs of our lives, and we have long ago discarded the cosmic framework of heaven, earth, and hell which was assumed in the 1st cent., and for long after. Of necessity, the NT writers were bound to use a cultural framework that made sense in their generation: the question is whether the gospel is still intelligible when that world‐view is superseded.

Bultmann's work in the historical criticism of the gospels had led him to take a fairly sceptical view of what may be regarded with any confidence as authentic, but as a Christian apologist he sees this as a positive advantage; faith should not rest on provable facts. Faith is the decision to choose the new life in Christ; the choice confronts us when the preacher proclaims Christ crucified. This new life is described by Bultmann in terms of the philosophy of existentialism; the old life of fallenness and alienation is exchanged for the possibility of total integrity and authenticity.

‘Myth’ means the description in terms of this world of alleged supernatural events, such as the virgin birth and the resurrection. These stories are not history; they are the means by which facets of the meaning of the Cross can be disclosed.

The gospel may still be a ‘scandal’, causing offence to modern people, as it did in Corinth (1 Cor. 1: 23), but, according to Bultmann, his demythologized gospel at least puts the ‘scandal’ in the right place.

Critics of Bultmann maintain that he has been over‐zealous in rejecting almost the entire world‐view of the NT by relegating it to the mythical, and too enthusiastic in embracing the existentialist philosophy of his one‐time colleague Martin Heidegger.