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Kerygma and Myth by Rudolf Bultmann and Five Critics

Rudolf Bultmann is one of the great scholars in the field of New Testament study. He was born in Germany in 1884, studied at Tubingen, Berlin and Marburg. During the time of the Nazi domination, he took active part in the strong opposition which the churches built up. After World War II he spent much time lecturing in the United States. The critics are Ernst Lohmeyer, Julius Schniewind, Helmut Thielicke, and Austin Farrer. This book, with the exception of the Austin Farrer article, was first published in German by Herbert Reich of Hamburg-Volksdorf, Germany; the English edition, including the Austin Farrer article, was first published in 1953 by S.P.C.K., London, and is here reprinted by arrangement. The English translation has been revised for the Torchbook edition. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.

Translator’s Preface by Reginald H. Fuller

As Ian Henderson has pointed out in his Myth in the New Testament (S.C.M. Press, 1952), the translation of some of the words in Bultmann’s essay presents certain difficulties, difficulties which also occur in the subsequent discussion. As Henderson says, "In some important points, Bultmann and the existentialists mint their verbal coinage and use words in a sense which is not necessarily contained in other German writing." While Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit has not yet been translated, there is a valuable exposition of its thought and a discussion of its terminology in the prefatory essay to a collection of essays by Martin Heidegger published under the title of Existence and Being. This prefatory essay is by Dr. Werner Brock, and the reader is referred to it for an elucidation of some of the terms mentioned below, as well as to Henderson’s work mentioned above.

As yet, no one has ventured to translate Dasein or Vorhanden, but in order not to disfigure the English translation by the frequent use of German words, I have rendered Dasein as "human life", "human Being", or even "Being" where its human character is made clear by the context. Vorhanden, which Heidegger uses of the peculiar mode of being characteristic of inanimate objects, as contrasted with responsible human Dasein, I have translated by "tangible", as in Bultmann the antithesis is not so much between Vorhandensein and Dasein as between the tangible realities of the visible world and eternal realities, very much like the Pauline contrast of kata sarka and kata pneuma. I have followed Brock in rendering Geworfenheit by "thrownness". The distinction between existentiell and existential, the first meaning that which belongs to existence as such, the second that which belongs to the particular philosophical system called existentialism, is expressed by the use of "existential" for the former, and "existentialist" for the latter. The distinction Bultmann makes between geschichtlich and historisch I have endeavored to observe by the use of "historic" for the former and "historical" or, sometimes, "past-historical" for the latter. By hysterics Bultmann means that which can be established by the historian’s criticism of the past; by geschichtlich he means that which, although occurring in past history, has a vital existential reference to our life today.


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