Jesus and the Word

by Rudolf Bultmann

Rudolf Bultmann was an outstanding scholar in the field of New Testament study. He was born in Germany in 1884 and studied at Tubingen, Berlin and Marburg. During the Nazi domination, he took an active part in the strong opposition which the churches built up. After the war he spent much time lecturing in Europe and the United States.

This book was published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York in 1934 and 1958. It was first published in Germany in 1926. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) An historical presentation of the teachings of Jesus in the setting of the thought of his own time. There is here a summary of Bultmann’s controversial method of Biblical interpretation, which tries to recover the deeper meaning behind the mythological concepts of the New Testament.


  • Translator’s Preface

    The eschatological interpretation of human life was not merely the teaching of a prophet nineteen centuries ago, but is essentially true today as then. Jesus’ message as he delivered it, not some modern variation or dilution of it, is his message today. The details of apocalyptic imagery are transitory (here is the germ of “demythologizing”), and wishful thinking about the world to come is valueless, even harmful; but the eschatological message, “The kingdom of God is at hand,” “among you” not “within you,” is relevant to any age, including our own.

  • Introduction: View Point and Method

    The subject of this book is not the life or the personality of Jesus, but only his teaching, his message. Little as we know of his life and personality, we know enough of his message to make for ourselves a consistent picture. What the sources offer us is first of all the message of the early Christian community, which for the most part the church freely attributed to Jesus. This naturally gives no proof that all the words which are put into his mouth were actually spoken by him. As can be easily proved, many sayings originated in the church itself; others were modified by the church.

  • Chapter 1: The Historical Background for the Ministry of Jesus

    At least there can be no doubt that Jesus like other agitators died on the cross as a Messianic prophet.

  • Chapter 2: The Teaching of Jesus: The Coming of the Kingdom of God

    However little we know of the life of Jesus, if we keep in mind that he was finally crucified as a Messianic agitator, we shall be able in the light of the eschatological message to understand the fragmentary accounts of the end of his activity, overgrown though they are with legend.

  • Chapter 3: The Teaching of Jesus: The Will of God

    Jesus as rabbi, his understanding of the Old Testament, his consideration of the “Law,” his ethic of “obedience,” his attitude towards wealth, the commandment of Love, the “Will of God” and the coming of the Kingdom.

  • Chapter 4: The Teaching of Jesus: God the Remote and the Near

    Jesus’ concept of God: similar and different from Jewish thought — different from Greek thought — a God of the future (influence of dualism) — the providence of God and God’s justice — miracles — prayer–Faith — God as father — God remote and near — Sin and forgiveness.