Guest Review: Neues Testament und christliche Existenz

downloadBultmann, Rudolf
Neues Testament und christliche Existenz
Mohr Siebeck, 2002. Pp. 340. Paperback
ISBN: 9783825223168

Reviewed by: Drew Davis, Münster

Neues Testament und christliche Existenz was graciously made available to me by UTB and Mohr Siebeck in Germany.  The 2002 book gathers 18 important essays from Bultmann in one easily accessible and handy volume. For the American audience the book is still not so easily accessible at around 30 dollars on Amazon, but it is astonishingly well-priced at 7 euros through the German media.

Though the volume is primarily concerned with exemplifying Bultmann’s theological approach (the book is found in the systematic theology section of the library at my German university), it does not lack substance of interest to the New Testament exegete. It contains essays on the Christology of the NT, the concept of the word of God in the NT, and the famous, “Ist voraussetzungslose Exegese möglich?”

For those interested more in systematic theological matters, the volume begins with the article “Welchen Sinn hat es, von Gott zu Reden?” (where Bultmann famously writes, “…will man von Gott reden, so muß man offenbar von sich selbst reden.”) and ends with a previously difficult-to-find article, “Die protestantische Theologie und der Atheismus”.  This short article outlines conscious atheism and unconscious atheism (the latter having to do with life in a secularized world) and argues that the word of God of Christian faith meets the existential questions of the modern man.  Interestingly Bultmann here picks up, in part favorably and in part critically, on Paul Tillich’s concept of the ultimate concern (Ger.: “das, was uns unbedingt angeht”).

But why is this German volume recommendable to the American audience? First, the book really does gather a representative sample of Bultmann’s work. It contains articles for the exegete, the Biblical theologian (see the articles on demytholigization), the systematic theologian, and historical theologian (see the fascinating articles on the theological task).  This offers the benefit of having some of Bultmann’s most important articles in accessible form in the original language without having to wade through his longer works like his NT theology or his John commentary.

Second, it offers an excellent opportunity to exercise one’s German. Many of the articles are quite short, 10 pages or less. These are often some of the easier articles to read, particularly if one is already familiar with the discussion (for example those on demythologization and presupposition-less exegesis).  Plus, several of the articles were not written for academics and the introduction to the book also includes helpful summaries of each essay in light of their historical context.

All in all, reading Bultmann in the original German forces one to get past the years of praise and criticism and to read with fresh eyes and new insights or questions. Moreover, with the variety of articles, one can explore the various sides of Bultmann’s thought, which touches far more than just NT studies.


  1. Welchen Sinn hat es, von Gott zu Reden?
  2. Das Problem einer theologischen Exegese des Neuen Testaments
  3. Die Bedeutung der “dialektischen Theologie” für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft
  4. Die Geschichtlichkeit des Daseins und der Glaube
  5. Zur Frage des Wunders
  6. Die Christologie des Neuen Testaments
  7. Der Begriff des Wortes Gottes im Neuen Testament
  8. Die Bedeutung des Alten Testaments für den christlichen Glauben
  9. Die Aufgabe der Theologie in der gegenwärtigen Situation
  10. Die Frage der natürlichen Offenbarung
  11. Anknüpfung und Widerspruch
  12. Das Problem der Hermeneutik
  13. Die christliche Hoffnung und das Problem der Entmythologisierung
  14. Ist voraussetzungslose Exegese möglich?
  15. Gedanken über die gegenwärtige theologische Situation
  16. Der Gedanke der Freiheit nach antikem und christlichem Verständnis
  17. Zum Problem der Entmythologisierung
  18. Die protestantische Theologie und der Atheismus

3 thoughts on “Guest Review: Neues Testament und christliche Existenz

  1. Pingback: Biblical Studies Carnival – June 2014 | Reading Acts

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