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No. 115Roman Theological Forum | Article Index | Study ProgramJanuary 2005


by John F. McCarthy

The Response of John McKenzie.

31. John McKenzie devotes the last chapter of his book, The Power and the Wisdom, to the demythologizing of Rudolf Bultmann. He considers this demythologizing to be a Christian interpretation of the Gospel message and a clear call for Christians to make the decision to be Christians, even though, as he admits, it does also evacuate the content of the New Testament. Bultmann has denied the objective existence of God and every supernatural element in the Gospel accounts, but McKenzie still finds him to be a "supernaturalist," inasmuch as Bultmann’s existentialist terms "are excellent theological statements of what the New Testament demands." He agrees with Bultmann that the Church needs to change in order to present a message that is acceptable to modern man. He sees demythologizing as a call for the same kind of development now that the Church underwent for its members in the first century, and which the Church must again undergo in order to be relevant to modern men. He has concluded that neither the Thomism favored by the Catholic Church nor the existentialism of Heidegger and Bultmann is a valid philosophy that should be made standard for people, and that to have a "monolithic immutable theology," such as Thomism, is foreign to the genius of the Church. McKenzie avers that, although Bultmann’s compression of the Gospel into one "decisive eschatological event" is too radically simple, "he has erred in the right direction," because he has pointed out the central elements of the Christian proclamation and what it is that will challenge modern man to a decision regarding his own existence. In sum says McKenzie, modern man "will not accept the Church as an anchor of spiritual security, as a source of infallible doctrine, as a mutual benevolent society, as the defender of a rigid moral code."

32. In my estimation, Rudolf Bultmann’s program of demythologizing is not a Christian interpretation of the Gospel message, since it totally eliminates the divinity of Christ and all of the supernatural objects of Christian faith so as to reduce the content of faith to less than the barest conceptual minimum by which one could claim to be a Christian in any sense of the word. An effective response to demythologizing cannot arise from a general agreement with the program or from the use of the program as an arm to attack the structures of the Catholic Church. Since the Gospels and the Church cannot reasonably be turned today into beings that fold up their objectivity into mere motives for finding the meaning of one’s own subjectivity, "demythologizing" is not the place to begin reinterpreting the Gospel or reforming the Church. The right place to begin is by refuting the program of demythologizing in each of its aspects, and the tools for this task are to be found in the teaching of the Church and in the ample folds of Scholastic philosophy and theology, particularly in Thomism. Since it is true that the philosophical and theological traditions of the Church do need to be somewhat updated and honed to perfection for the task of thoroughly analyzing the challenge posed by the demythologizing of Bultmann, there is work to be done, but we do not need the negative advice of persons like John McKenzie to face this problem. McKenzie’s response shows little understanding of the threat that demythologizing raises to Christian faith; it merely expresses his own impassioned appeal for an ongoing theological revolution within the Church.1

The Response of Anton Vögtle

33. The element of mental frameworks. As we reviewed in the first two parts of this study and in the first two paragraphs of part three the responses of six Catholic writers to the call of Rudolf Bultmann for the demythologizing of the New Testament proclamation, the reader may have noted the recurring inability of these writers to produce a well-rounded reply or even to visualize the problem with adequate clarity. This may seem surprising, considering that Bultmann's challenge to Catholic belief is total: he calls "mythical" the entire supernatural object of Catholic faith. Among the causes of this weakness of response on the level of reason I would suggest a lack of sufficiently differentiated ideas in such areas as logic and theory of knowledge and the perennial absence of an adequate conception of historical science. Under the aspect of the relationship of faith to reason, the lack of full ability to respond can be traced in part to the modern separation between exegetes and theologians, according to which exegetes tend to lose sight of the full theological picture and theologians do not feel competent to examine the results of exegesis. And Catholic exegetes have never responded adequately to the outrageous results of the form-criticism of Bultmann and his many co-workers. As a result, both exegetes and theologians tend to address the notion of demythologizing with much more sympathy than it could ever deserve, and we have seen this sympathy spelled out in imperfectly formulated responses. The two writers who follow in the present part, Anton Vögtle and Ugo Lattanzi, were aware of this problem, and they attempted to fill in the gaps by better organized replies. As we review their analyses, we should especially keep in mind the need of an adequate mental framework, not only the assumed framework of this or that sacred writer, as historical-critics do, but also the consciously formed and self-appropriated mental framework of the interpreter himself, which historical-critics tend to overlook. It is Bultmann's mental framework that these two writers have especially in view, but the basic underlying problem kept in the background is how Bultmann's mental framework, the Evangelists' mental frameworks, the mental frameworks of Bultmann's critics, and, in general, every mental framework can be fitted into a general theory of biblical interpretation. We are searching for a clear idea of historical science and of how it functions in the interpretation of Sacred Scripture.2

34. Anton Vögtle is of the opinion that Rudolf Bultmann’s program of demythologizing is a concentrated synthesis of an overall theological labor oriented in this determinate direction from the very beginning.3 Following indications given earlier by Heinrich Ott,4 he sees this program as being based mainly upon four philosophical and three historical presuppositions, but also upon other secondary premises of different kinds and of varying origin, such as historical criticism, existentialism, and Lutheran theology. The four philosophical premises which he systematically uses are: a) a radical dualism of non-world and world; b) a double concept of history and historical knowledge; c) a particular notion of "pre-understanding" and "self-understanding;," and d) a double concept of time. Bultmann’s three historical premises have to do with a) the Jesus of history; b) the origin of Christianity; and c) the way to offset the results of historical criticism.

35. A radical dualism of non-world and world. Bultmann maintains that the true meaning of the New Testament mythology does not pertain to any of the mental objects and images in which it is presented. He defines mythology as "the conception which makes the non-worldly and divine seem worldly and human, that which pertains to the other side seem to be on this side."5 Vögtle points out that Bultmann’s concept of myth as being false in imagery but true in existential meaning can stand up only to the extent that one accepts his existentialist premises and his radical distinction between "world" and "non-world."6 For instance, Bultmann says, if we postulate an "act of God" happening in this world, we are illicitly trying to bring "the other side" over to "this side," but we are left to wonder what exactly he means by "the other side." I believe that what he means is "the other side of reality," that is, of what we commonly conceive of as being real, and this is why he has divided the Gospel accounts into literary genres, that is, into genres of fiction. Bultmann is arguing from the Modernist viewpoint that all of the objects of religion are imaginary, and he is arguing against the tendency of religious people to ascribe reality to fictitious ideas, such as the idea of an act of God. But if the recorded acts of God really took place and are part of what we know as reality, then Bultmann’s application of non-world to the Gospel accounts falls.

36. Entering into the background of Bultmann’s idea of non-world is the historic total separation of faith and reason in Lutheran theology, which gave rise, on the one hand, to the Rationalism in the liberal Lutheran tradition, and, on the other hand, to the Fideism by which one believes contrary to and in spite of what one considers to be the results of science and the dictates of human reason. Lutheran fideism has spawned belief in a religious world totally different from the real world of science, history, and common sense, and it is against this belief that Bultmann is reacting in his appeal to modern man, not by rejecting it entirely but by transposing it into the existentialist experience of one’s own authentic being. And to accomplish this Bultmann advances a radical distinction between two kinds of reality, the Realität of science, history, and common sense, and the Wirklichkeit of the existential encounter. Thus, in taking away all that is supernatural and miraculous in the Gospel accounts, he clothes the existentialist experience with a substitute reality of its own. Hence, it is obvious that, to restore Christian faith to its normal state, it is necessary to affirm the real existence of the supernatural events in the Gospel narratives and to refute the alleged reality of Bultmann’s existential experience. Catholics of today are surrounded by Modernist invitations to doubt the reality of the objects of faith. Our first reaction to these doubts should be to reaffirm over and over again in thought and in prayer the reality of the existence of God, the living presence of Jesus in Heaven and in the Holy Eucharist, the knowledge that our prayers can be heard, that we have well-founded hope of reaching Heaven, our rational fear of falling into Hell, if we flag in our efforts, and all the other objects of faith. Then, to the best of our time and ability, we should look and pray for the answers to these questions.

37. A double concept of history and historical knowledge. Vögtle notes that Bultmann first distinguishes the knowledge of history from the knowledge of nature. Then he makes a radical distinction between a lower level of historical knowledge, which he calls in German Historie, and a higher level, which he calls Geschichte. Following the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, he restricts "true historicity" to the existentialist notion of "authentic existence," which is "being in the state of decision, deciding and being able ever to decide anew."7 Bultmann thus divides objectivizing-cosmological thought and existential thought into two mutually exclusive fields.8 He applies this division of historical knowledge in a preeminent way to the objective figure of Jesus and to the subjective state of the individual believer. Vögtle reasons, following Ott, that objective historical events can have meaning only to the extent that they are real (wirklich), and, therefore, that Bultmann’s distinction of two opposing kinds of historical knowledge, the simple and inauthentic knowledge of past events and the authentic act of existential decision, does not hold up.9

38. Bultmann’s incorrect way ofdistinguishing two radically different kinds of history and historicity is a challenge to the rest of us to make the correct distinctions regarding historical knowledge, and it is the lack of correct distinctions that has both helped to hinder a full response to demythologizing and has enabled Bultmann’s program to gain such great notoriety. Catholic historical critics seldom work with a complete set of historical concepts or even with a precise definition of history or of what they call "scientific exegesis." Thus, for instance, it is inadequate for David Stanley, following C.H. Dodd, to define history "as (something) consisting of events which are of the nature of occurrences plus meaning."10 This is obviously not an essential definition. To examine scientifically Bultmann’s double concept of history, it is necessary to work from a framework of the true genera and species of history, beginning from the definition of history as "the past as such," and proceeding from a first distinction between real history and fictional history through a second distinction of human history from natural history to a further distinction of historical chronology from historical explanation, and then we come to see where "occurrences plus meaning" comes into view.11 If we take "science," in its essential definition, to be "the knowledge of the real as such," then "historical science" has to do with the real past as real, and it must keep the use of the concept of reality constantly in mind as it examines the past as such.12 And this is why Bultmann’s definition of historicity as "being in a state of decision" cannot be correct, since it excludes by definition the past. Being in a state of decision has its importance, not because it is true historicity, but inasmuch as it is the act of love for God and neighbor, as objects of our will, exercised over and over again.

39. A particular notion of "pre-understanding" and "self-understanding." Bultmann observes that every interpretation is guided by a certain "putting of the question," in accordance with the particular interest of the interpreter, and that this putting of the question is in itself a kind of pre-understanding.13 Bultmann agrees with Robin Collingwood in saying that the object of historical knowledge is not a mere object outside of the mind that knows it, but is rather "an activity of thought which can be known only in so far as the knowing mind re-enacts it and knows itself as so doing."14 Vögtle points out that Bultmann divides human understanding into "pre-understanding" and "self-understanding" in terms of the Existentialism of Martin Heidegger, and he thinks that the jump from pre-understanding to understanding in the theory of Bultmann is unexplainable.15 I think that the factor which must be brought into sight here is that of the mental framework necessary for all understanding. If we define "understanding" as "the knowledge of one reality in relation to another reality," then, to understand a remote object, we must see it in the framework of a proximate, or intermediate, mental object. Where both Bultmann and Collingwood go wrong is in failing to see the objectivity of the intervening mental framework and in thus dissolving understanding of the object into "understanding" of one’s own subjective self.

40. A double concept of time. In Vögtle’s estimation, Heinrich Ott has found the key idea of all of Bultmann’s philosophical principles to be his double concept of time.16 Bultmann reduces everything that has taken place or will take place in worldly time to "that which is subjected to the law of the past," and he accordingly makes a fundamental distinction between "time as flux" and "time as now": worldly time comes to an end in the now of the decision in faith. And Bultmann admits that this decision to open oneself to one’s existential future is a pure experience that cannot be explained even on the level of existentialist analysis. I believe that this kind of existential decision is not a jump to any real understanding, but is simply a turning away from reality into egoistic fantasy of a nihilist bent. In this existential "decision in faith," no event ever takes place, because, according to Bultmann’s own explanation, the grasping for one’s authentic self-existence never takes effect, but must be repeated unsuccessfully over and over again. I think that this is an existentialist dream to which has been added the Lutheran principle that the human will, being totally corrupt, is incapable of any good act and yet, through faith and faith alone, its state of sin can be disregarded by God, although it can never be removed. Hence, part of the solution to this problem of Bultmann is to put straight the Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith alone. The true "now" of Christian faith is the act of turning in repentance to the love of God, which is repeated over and over and with the effect of purification and growth in holiness. Then, the ultimate "now" of Christian existence is the eternity of beatitude in Heaven.

41. Three historical premises. Vögtle remarks that Bultmann’s demythologizing depends in part upon the results of his historical-critical interpretation of the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John. From this research came forth a Jesus of history stripped of all of his supernatural attributes and works. This same research led Bultmann to postulate the rise of Christianity, not from a founding by Jesus, but from the faith of the primitive Christian community. Bultmann both presumed and concluded that Jesus first became the Messiah in the faith of the early Palestinian Christian community, and then was elevated to the level of the divine in the subsequent Hellenistic Christian community.17 Finally, Bultmann maintains that these negative findings about Jesus cannot harm Christian faith, because authentic Christian faith is not based upon belief in anything historically objective but only upon the decision to choose one’s own authentic existence.18 Among the principal defects in the program of demythologizing, Vögtle notes Bultmann’s lack of conceptual exactness, his idea that mythology, properly understood, is necessary and legitimate for religion, his denial of the historical documentation regarding the life of Jesus on earth, his idea that sin has produced a total break between this world and any acts of God, and his faulty use of exegetical method. Vögtle adds that Bultmann's exposition becomes particularly forced, obscure, and unconvincing precisely in those places where he tries to demonstrate the need of an act of divine love for the attainment of "authentic existence."19 I agree with Vögtle and I contend that the way to remedy these defects is to turn away from the use of historical criticism and revert to the Catholic exegetical tradition, updated in terms of the neo-Patristic method. As I remarked in my longer review of Anton Vögtle’s article, Catholic historical critics are notoriously inept at defending against attack the "core" of dogmatic truth underlying the Gospels that they say abides the stripping process of their historical method.20

The Response of Ugo Lattanzi

42. In his analysis of the demythologizing of Rudolf Bultmann, Ugo Lattanzi distinguishes two sets of controlling principles: postulates which are expressly assumed as the basis of theoretical constructions, and presuppositions which are used only implicitly. He says that Bultmann expressly uses a theological postulate, an exegetical postulate, and a sociological postulate.

43. As a theological postulate, Lattanzi observes, Bultmann bases the relation of the world to God, not upon the analogy of being, but upon a radical opposition between the world and God, not admitting of any causal relationship that could be recognized by reason, and so, the world is taken to be an absolutely closed and autonomous system.21 With this postulate, Bultmann excludes any reasonable doctrine about God and any doctrine revealed by God. In addition, he is obliged to speak of the "act of God" as being completely hidden and undiscoverable by human reason, and Christian faith is conceived, not as an adherence of any kind to truth revealed by God, but rather as a leap into "non-world" having no need for justification on an historical basis.22 Lattanzi notes that Bultmann’s leap of faith is merely an act of pure subjectivity referring to nothing outside of itself.23 We have noted this postulate earlier (cf. paragraphs 35 and 36 above).

44. Lattanzi finds that Bultmann reasons from an exegetical postulate that the message of Jesus was exclusively eschatological, that is, "of the occurrences with which our known world comes to its end."24 From this principle Bultmann, in his form-critical analyses, selects as historically authentic only those words attributed to Jesus which point to the future, and he assumes that the early Christian community, immersed in the same eschatological preoccupations, had no interest in narrating the historical facts about Jesus. But, as Lattanzi points out, the historical evidence is against this assumption of Bultmann, as is clear from what is said in 1 Cor 15:3-8.25 And, to me, this is clear, but today, because so many of the conclusions of Bultmann’s form-critical analyses have gained acceptance among Catholic exegetes and theologians, it has now become necessary to reinforce St. Paul’s testimony by undertaking a point-by-point and line-by-line refutation of the false exegetical conclusions that Bultmann has bestowed upon contemporary readers of the Bible.

45. Lattanzi ascribes to the influence of a sociological postulate Bultmann’s tracing of the accounts presented in the Gospels to the fertile imagination of the anonymous Christian community, and he points out that there is not, in fact, a single clear instance in the whole of the Gospels of a myth created by the early Church and inserted into the Gospel tradition. But the sad fact is that, while there cannot be demonstrated in the whole of the Gospels a single fictitious miracle story, event, or prophecy after the event, form-critics are claiming today that the Gospels are woven of such fabrications. Hence the urgent need to challenge the results of form-critical analysis and to produce a better interpretation of the Gospels by the use of a better and more correct method.

46. According to Lattanzi, the first of Bultmann’s presuppositions is his assumption of the spontaneous consolidation of the followers of Jesus into the Church as an eschatological community after his death. Lattanzi claims that for this Bultmann is entirely indebted to Alfred Loisy, one of the founders of the Modernism that was rampant in the Catholic Church at the beginning of the twentieth century. And the second of Bultmann’s presuppositions is his assumption that only later came the decision of the eschatological community to endure as an historical phenomenon.26 For this assumption Bultmann depends upon his other postulate that the early Christians were at first so engrossed in the idea of the coming end of the world that they had no interest in establishing an enduring Church. It is Lattanzi’s conclusion that Bultmann merely assumes but does not prove any of his postulates or presuppositions, and that a more faithful study of the Gospels would have shown that the hope of the early Christians was based, not on their hope for the immediate return of Jesus on the clouds of heaven, but on their awareness of the historical truth of the words and deeds of Jesus and of his bodily Resurrection from the dead.27

47. The time has come for a new deal in methods of interpreting Sacred Scripture. Writers like Anton Vögtle and Ugo Lattanzi have led the way in the task of providing a full response to the demythologizing of Rudolf Bultmann by critically analyzing the results of form-criticism so as to produce a neo-Patristic interpretation that is consistent with Catholic exegetical tradition and at the same time makes room for new insights into the meanings of the sacred text. The questions raised by Bultmann deserve a better answer than what we have been hearing from Catholic form-critical exegetes and theologians. Bultmann has called upon proclaimers of the Gospel message to ask the right questions of the inspired text, that is, to examine and be aware of the principles that they use as their mental frame of reference, an exercise that has been egregiously lacking in most modern Catholic biblical scholarship. The first step, then, in a fuller response of Catholics to the challenges of Bultmann should be a clarification of the Catholic frame of reference and a refutation of those other frames of reference that do not lead to correct conclusions. Take, for instance, the "existential encounter" proposed by Bultmann as the modern man’s act of faith. Since by very definition it has no object, it is not an encounter at all, but it challenges us to ascertain what is the object of a true encounter reaching down to the very core of our existence, and this is the encounter in prayer with the objects of faith. It is an encounter with God as He has revealed Himself to us; it is an encounter with God as the essential object of our prayer, and it is an encounter with other things that are objects related to God, such as the humanity of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints. So a full response to the demythologizing of Bultmann requires a firm understanding that prayer to God is possible, because God has placed Himself at our disposal for this purpose. We locate the true existential encounter of faith in the tropological sense of Sacred Scripture, inasmuch as the impact of the inspired word upon the believer is the subjective result of the objective truth and power that resides in the inspired word itself.

48. A fuller response to the demythologizing of the New Testament requires also a more consistent defense of the historical truth of the Gospels, in keeping with the tradition of the Fathers of the Church and of all Catholic exegetes and theologians before the ingress of historical criticism in the 1890s. In this renewed apologetic must be included more exact definitions of historical science and historical method. The New Testament literary genres proposed by Bultmann and followed by all form-critics do not meet the standards of historical science, because they are not based on a proper employment of the concept of reality or of the rules for exegetes laid down by Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu. One can read whole treatises of literary analysis of the Gospels by Catholic writers without there ever being expressed the question of whether the accounts they are considering are real or fictitious, whereas for scientific study this question should pervade the whole discussion. The form-critical literary genres, as used by Catholic writers, are not analytic in that they are not the result of proper distinctions of categories from the broader to the narrower. Catholic historical critics have persistently claimed that Pope Pius XII approved of their forms in Divino afflante Spiritu, where he says: "For the ancient peoples of the East, in order to express their ideas, did not always employ those forms or kinds of speech which we use today; but rather those used by the men of their times and countries. [ . . . ] The investigation carried out on this point during the past forty or fifty years with greater care and diligence than ever before has more clearly shown what forms of expression were used in those far-off times, whether in poetic description or in the formulation of laws and rules of life or in recording the facts and events of history."28 But note that the literary forms mentioned here are the analytical categories used by the Fathers of the Church and not any of the novel literary forms assumed by form-critics, such as "myths," "legends," "miracle stories," "I-sayings," "conflict and didactic sayings," "prophetic and apocalyptic sayings," "angelic appearances," etc. There is no doubt that the Sacred Scriptures contain literary categories in the classical sense, and that they also contain "certain fixed ways of expounding and narrating, certain definite idioms, especially of a kind peculiar to the Semitic tongues," of which "none is excluded from the Sacred Books, provided the way of speaking adopted in no wise contradicts the holiness and truth of God."29 To say that the Sacred Scriptures present fiction as though it were truth would be to contradict the truth of God, and that is what the special literary forms of Bultmann and company presume to do.

49. Over the past century Catholic historical critics have assiduously looked for the meaning of respective verses and passages of Sacred Scripture, and only recently have they begun to realize that these texts could have and probably do have more than one meaning. What has been neglected throughout is the genuine spiritual sense of the inspired writings, even though Pope Pius XII asked that it be brought out where he said: "Let Catholic exegetes, then, disclose and expound this spiritual significance, intended and ordained by God, with the care which the dignity of the divine word demands; but let them scrupulously refrain from proposing as the genuine meaning of Sacred Scripture other figurative senses."30 Thus, Pope Pius XII warned against the proposing of figurative meanings that are not really in the text, but at the same time he also asked for attention to the figurative meanings that are in the text. The task still remains of systematically discerning throughout the whole text of the Bible, in keeping with the tradition of the Fathers of the Church and of the great medieval theologians, first the literal sense of each respective verse or passage and then of going on to determine the spiritual sense or senses of the same verse or passage, in the light of the Four Senses as an adequate framework of study, and as required by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.31 The neo-Patristic method is the effective way to make the proper distinctions, by its use of an adequate theory of history and of the best of exegetical tools. There is much to be gained by a reversion to the traditional Catholic approach to the interpretation of Sacred Scripture. First of all, it will end the vain search for a fully Catholic version of an historical-critical approach that grew up outside of the Church and is replete with Rationalist postulates and presuppositions that Catholic historical critics have never succeeded in eliminating so as completely to reconcile the method with the fullness of Catholic faith and devotion, even though they have convinced many bishops that they have done so. Secondly, the attention that the neo-Patristic method pays to the results of the historical-critical method, both inside and outside of the Catholic community, will itself result in new positive insights into the Sacred Scriptures and in an integrating of these insights into the treasury of understanding contained in the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, in the liturgy, and in the traditional spirituality of the Church. In the third place, it will reinstate Catholic biblical scholarship in the position of the leading academic witness to the historic message of the Gospels, in place of being, as it is now, a minority group of scholars trying, on the one hand, to catch up with the thought and conclusions of liberal non-Catholic scholars, and, on the other hand, striving, inconsistently with the historical-critical method, to avoid logical conclusions that contradict the doctrinal tradition and dogmas of the Catholic Church.

50. Historical critics call "scientific" their method of exegesis, but they do not have a clear idea of what the word "scientific" means. A neo-Patristic critique of the historical-critical method must begin from a definition of the words "science" and "scientific." Natural scientists are notoriously poor at defining their own subject, and logicians, too, usually fall short of their aim. Common attempts to define the word "science," such as "a body of universally applicable truths, formulated by the intellect as the result and expression of innumerable inductions and deductions" or as "a definite body of truths, derived from reasoned demonstrations of causes and reduced to a system."32 are workable for many purposes, but they are not sufficient to resolve the unanswered questions raised by Bultmann and his followers. They don’t provide for a science of history or for what may truly be termed "scientific exegesis." Certainly the science of history is, in some way, a definite body of truths, but how are these truths universally applicable in historical science or resulting from innumerable inductions and deductions? Or does historical science even result from innumerable inductions and deductions or from reasoned demonstrations of causes? In order to be able to call a historical method "scientific," it is necessary first to determine clearly whether the things mentioned in common definitions of science are everything that is essentially characteristic of all science and then what is specifically characteristic of historical science. I believe that the needed fuller Catholic answer to the demythologizing of Rudolf Bultmann must begin from adequate definitions of these elements and then must proceed logically step by step to the many other concepts and techniques in a valid and reliable historical method.

The end of this article


1. These references are taken from the last chapter of John L. McKenzie, The Power and the Wisdom (Milwaukee:Bruce, 1965). For a longer discussion of the same with page references, see J.F. McCarthy in Living Tradition 82 (July 1999), pp. 8-10.

2. The contents of this paragraph have been reprinted from Living Tradition 83, paragraph 1.

3. Antonio Vögtle, "Rivelazione e mito," in Problemi e orientamenti di teologia dogmatica, vol. I (Milan, 1957), 827-960 [henceforth referred to as AVRM], pp. 830-831.

4. Heinrich Ott,Geschichte und Heilsgeschichte in der Theologie Rudolf Bultmanns (Tübingen, 1955). Ott proposed a systematic analysis of Bultmann's theology, but only in later works did he attempt to develop the general indications he had given in this book.

5. Bultmann, in H.W. Bartsch, ed., Kerygma and Myth, vol. 1 (London: SPCK, 1953), p. 10.

6. Vögtle, AVRM, p. 837.

7. Vögtle, AVRM, pp. 838-839.

8. Vögtle, AVRM, pp. 839-841.

9. Vögtle, AVRM, pp. 842-843.

10. D. Stanley, "The Gospel as Salvation History," in John J. Heaney, ed., Faith, Reason, and the Gospels (Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1965), p. 254, quoting C.H. Dodd, History and the Gospel (London, 1938), p. 36.

11. See Article 6, "The First Dichotomies of Historical Science," in J.F. McCarthy, The Science of Historical Theology (Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 2nd printing, 1991), pp. 83-86.

12. See "The Locus of Specialized Science in Human Consciousness" and "The Locus of Historical Science in Scientific Consciousness," in The Science of Historical Theology," pp. 46-56 and 60-63.

13. R. Bultmann, History and Eschatology, (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1957), p. 113.

14. Bultmann, History and Eschatology, p. 119.

15. Vögtle, AVRM, pp. 851-852.

16. Vögtle, AVRM, p. 852.

17. Vögtle , AVRM, pp. 861-863.

18. Vögtle, AVRM, p. 865.

19. Vögtle, AVRM, p. 949-951.

20. McCarthy, in Living Tradition 83 (September 1999), p. 5.

21. U. Lattanzi, "I sinottici e la Chiesa secondo R. Bultmann" in Miscellanea Antonio Piolanti , vol.I (Rome, 1963 [Lateranum, n.s., 29th year], 141-169 - henceforth referred to as ULSC]), p. 150.

22. Lattanzi, ULSC, p. 153.

23. Lattanzi, ULSC, pp. 156-158.

24. Bultmann, History and Eschatology, p. 23. "Today it is commonly accepted that the reign of God which Jesus proclaimed is the eschatological reign. The only point in dispute is whether Jesus thought that the reign of God was immediately imminent, indeed already dawning in his exorcisms, or whether he thought that it was already present in his person – what today is called ‘realized eschatology’" (ibid., p. 31.)

25. Lattanzi, ULSC, pp. 158-160.

26. "The problem of eschatology grew out of the fact that the expected end of the world failed to arrive, that the ‘Son of Man’ did not appear in the clouds of heaven, that history went on, and that the eschatological community could not fail to recognize that it had become a historical phenomenon and that the Christian faith had taken on the shape of a new religion" (Bultmann, History and Eschatology, p. 38).

27. Lattanzi, ULSC, pp. 163-166.

28. Pope Pius XII, Divino afflante Spiritu, (Enchiridion Biblicum 558): in Rome and the Study of Scripture, seventh ed., Abbey Press, St. Meinrad, Indiana, 1964), p. 98. Or in Claudia Carlen, ed., The Papal Encyclicals, Divino afflante Spiritu, no. 36.

29. Divino afflante Spiritu, in Rome and the Study of Scripture (EB 559), or in Carlen, ibid.

30. Divino afflante Spiritu, in Rome and the Study of Scripture (EB 553), or in Carlen, loc.cit., no. 27.

31. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 115-119.

32. Celestine Bittle, Reality and the Mind (New York: Bruce, 1936), p. 10.

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