Friday, 18 November 2005

Gerhard Ebeling and the problem of history

There has been some discussion of the problem of faith and history over at the Jürgen Moltmann List. I sent in the following comment on Gerhard Ebeling’s approach to the problem of history:

Gerhard Ebeling’s The Problem of Historicity in the Church and Its Proclamation (1967) is one of my favourite little books. Ebeling was one of Rudolf Bultmann’s pupils, and his conception of faith and history is essentially Bultmannian, with the added refinement of Ebeling’s concept of the “word-event.”

Ebeling views the problem of history as a problem of understanding, and so he sees the solution in hermeneutical terms: the church’s task is to interpret and translate the kerygma. But his main emphasis is not on the “content” of the Christian kerygma, but on the “word-character” of the kerygma, i.e., on the “word-event” which takes place through this message. Thus for Ebeling the task of Christian faith is to translate the primitive Christian message in such a way that the original word-event takes place afresh in each new historical situation.

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