Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Rudolf Bultmann

In the shadows of high shelves you sat in heavy silence,
reading old Greek books and smiling
grimly.
You seemed so still, an unmoved mover
in your airless German office,
but you were poised on that fixed point
between the weight of other people’s centuries and the burden
of the moment.

Then at last with happy seriousness, like a child
playing with matches,
you took those legends, myths, pious certainties,
and placed them neatly on the floor, arranged them
by strict principles.
With cries of protest deafening your ears,
with fists pounding the door, you calmly
set them alight
and watched them burn, hoping
that from those ashes would spring
that fragile phoenix (so ancient and so new)
of faith in him who hides himself, but
tears time, splits graves, and strips
existence to the bone
when he pulls back the veil.

12 Comments:

Jim said...

How very intriguing, Ben. Well formed. As the only remaining thoroughgoing Bultmannian, I applaud you.

kim fabricius said...

Yes, I join in the ovation (though Jim's "thoroughgoing", I think, is a bit too, well, thoroughgoing!).

After the quote on von Balthasar and theological aesthetics, and the haiku on Barth, Ben clearly has poetry on his mind. You know, I await the day when a dogmatics is done completely in verse: form and content in harmony.

Halden said...

Ben, where would you locate yourseve vis a vis Bultmann? If I may ask.

Anonymous said...

Nice poem. I like the lines -

"Then at last with happy seriousness, like a child
playing with matches".

Sean du Toit said...

Good work, very imaginative.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I am not certain, Jim, that one can be a pure Bultmannian and also be as enthusiastic about Zwingli as you are without contradiction.

I do agree about the poem. Good job, Ben. It sure beats having him dance around. :-) (Yes, Chris Tilling, I'm talking about you.)

zoomtard said...

I think the poem is a pretty fine piece of work Ben. Very good momentum towards the end...

Jim said...

Michael, you've forgotten the "order of transmission", so I'll refresh your memory:

Jesus > Augustine > Zwingli > Bullinger > Bultmann > Me.

Bultmann was as much a Zwinglian (humanist) as anyone.

One CANNOT be an Bultmannian without simultaneously being a Zwinglian (or a Christian, really).

;-)

ben myers said...

Sorry for the slow reply, Halden. I like Bultmann a lot, and I think he's probably one of the best and one of the most-misunderstood theological thinkers of the last century. I'm not entirely sure how I'd evaluate his contemporary significance, although I like Eberhard Jüngel's suggestion that Bultmann provides a necessary hermeneutical complement to Barth's theology. In an article that will be published soon in IJST, I've also tried to make a case for the ongoing significance of Bultmann's view of faith as "a new self-understanding".

Chris Tilling said...

Talking about me, Michael?!

Ben, you may like my own poem on Bultmann, just posted.

michael lattke said...

Sehr schön, Ben. Intelligent und informiert wie immer. Aber wo bleibt die Tabakspfeife mit ihrem köstlich-kalten, an die Vergänglichkeit erinnernden Rauch?

Theo Loger

Ben Myers said...

Vielen Dank, Michael.

Yes, how I could forget the pipe? Perhaps Bultmann would still be writing commentaries today if not for that particular vice!

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