Read the following two arguments about the Kerygmata and decide which one is a good example and which one is a poor example. Give reasons to justify your decision, particularly in relation to use of quotations, references to scholars and the style of reasoning.
Then click on each one to see comments and compare with your own comments.
‘The Kerygmata has no value for Christians today’. Evaluate this view.
Develop the basic argument below by using any relevant quotes/references to scholars that are listed. It should not be assumed that all are relevant or required. Then compare with other people in the class and discuss any differences assessing the justification given for those differences. Don’t forget to also consider the different styles of evaluation examined above and in the AO2 task based on topic of Luther and justification by faith.
‘The kerygmata are not historical statements but myth.’ Evaluate this view with reference to Christianity.
Bultmann argued that the Kerygmata was myth rather than history – a challenge that affected the very foundations of the Church. He saw the Kerygma as embedded in a world view that implies a three-storied universe of heaven, earth and hell. He also saw it influenced by Jewish apocalyptic thinking and Gnosticism. Bultmann’ approach was not to eliminate the mythology but to interpret it or as he expressed it, to “demythologise” it. For Bultmann that meant discovering the existential meaning behind them, and this meaning is valid for all time since human nature remains the same even though world views change. The kerygma is about the existential understanding of human life. Many would see that this Christian understanding of human life is detached from its basis in history, i.e. from the historical person of Christ. Christianity becomes a philosophy of existence.
In response, Bultmann’s appeal to Gnosticism has been challenged on grounds of its dating. The Gnosticism is post Christian rather than pre-Christian and so could not have influenced the New Testament. Equally the claim by Bultmann that the New Testament is not interested in the facts about Jesus has also been challenged. The scholar Stanton has argued that there are objective facts about Jesus in the Kerygma. Paul’s theological message is given objective grounds which are the historical facts that Paul uses as support. Both Cullmann and Pannenberg have emphasised that God is known not in existential moments of decision but in God’s self-revelation by his historical acts.
So the debate between myth and history is one between subjectivity and objectivity. Faith needs an “empirical anchor” (Macquarrie). Christian faith is faith in a God who acted in history.
“The reality of God is not that of the idea but of the concrete happening.” (Bultmann)
“Bultmann retreats from revelation as an historical event into an abstract philosophy of life.” (Thielicke)
“Does not Christ become an outworn myth of ever decreasing importance?” (Thielicke)
“That God is creator means that man’s action is not determined by timeless principles but rather by the concrete situation of the moment.” (Bultmann)
“The resurrection is no more than the pictorial symbol of an encounter, not an event in its own right.” (Thielicke referring to Bultmann’s view)
“Bultmann means that although in a myth a man appears to be describing the world, he is in fact really describing his own existence.” (Henderson)
“…the importance of the New Testament mythology lies not in its imagery but in the understanding of existence which it enshrines.” (Bultmann)
“We are left wondering why the event of Christ is not myth like everything else.” (Thielicke)
“We know almost nothing about the historical Jesus, and we need to know almost nothing.” (Bultmann)