Monday, 4 May 2009

Bultmann and Heidegger: new books

At the moment I’m reading the newly published correspondence between Bultmann and Heidegger: Rudolf Bultmann/Martin Heidegger: Briefwechsel 1925-1975, edited by A. Grossmann and C. Landmesser (Mohr Siebeck 2009). This is an extremely fascinating series of letters in a handsomely produced volume, complete with several photos and facsimile images, together with a foreword by Eberhard Jüngel. As Jüngel notes, the half-century friendship between Heidegger and Bultmann is all the more remarkable for the fact that each of them remains solely committed to his own intellectual domain (Heidegger spoke of the “deadly animosity” between faith and philosophy), rejecting any notion of a “Mixophilosophicotheologia”. (I’m not entirely sure you needed to learn that word – but there it is.)

It was the large-hearted Michael Lattke who gave me a copy of this book, so I’m very grateful to him – and be sure to keep an eye out for Michael’s massive Hermeneia commentary on The Odes of Solomon, which will be released next month. (Some decades ago, Lattke also compiled the index-volume to Bultmann’s great essay collection, Glauben und Verstehen: a true labour of love! And thanks to him, I also have in my own library the meticulously annotated volumes of Glauben und Verstehen which he used to produce the index: a beautiful and invaluable resource.)

If you’re interested in Bultmann, you’ll also certainly want to get your hands on the definitive new biography by Konrad Hammann (Mohr Siebeck 2009), as well as William Dennison’s English-language study, The Young Bultmann: Context for His Understanding of God, 1884-1925 (Peter Lang 2008). I haven’t yet read Dennison’s book – anyone familiar with it? And for a close analysis of the relation between Bultmann and Heidegger, you can also check out Otto Pöggeler’s new book, which sounds very interesting: Philosophie und hermeneutische Theologie: Heidegger, Bultmann und die Folgen (Fink 2009).

Finally, I leave you with a charming photo of Heidegger and Bultmann: two friends burdened together by the immense lonely labours of thought. (The photo is taken from the correspondence volume.)



Update: Kim’s right, we need a caption contest here. A prize for the best caption!

35 Comments:

kim fabricius said...

The photo deserves a caption. How about:

The exam was going well until the two mature students Martin and Rudolf came to the word "Mixophilosophicotheologia".

Ben Myers said...

Egads, you're right — why didn't I think of it?! I hereby declare a caption contest.

Phillip said...

"It's all in the right hand!"
"No, No, I'ts all in the left hand!"

"No! No!"...

It's endless. We could go round and round and never get bored!

Martin said...

Ben I don't quite know where you're coming from. These two individuals were enormously damaging. The sum total of the thought you picture them in was the erosion of faith and society and the destruction of many human lives - most directly in Heidegger's case.

This picture to me is far from innocuous, they used their minds so poorly. But perhaps you have excoriated them in earlier posts.

Mark Stevens said...

Wow Martin, I am not a fan of Bultmann but I wonder if that is going a bit too far. I know plenty whose faith has been enhanced greatly by them.

As for the caption, "Gee, I hope Jim West approves otherwise it is the dilettante list for me!"

or

"Was that him or me who farted?"

Rachel said...

At a think tank in Berlin, these two Giants of modern thought were forced to "act out a giant elephant as an ice breaker. They were able to get the ears down, but--for fear of Mixophilosophicotheologia--neither of them was willing to work with the other to produce a viable trunk.

David Bruner said...

"Rudolf, what's a six-letter word for 'demythologization'?"

Dave Belcher said...

The longest discussion ever recorded over the differences between "existential" and "existentiel" ended abruptly today when German thinkers Rudolf Bultmann and Martin Heidegger suddenly and simultaneously came down with massive headaches, and who could blame them?

Todd said...

Bultmann: "ugh... Martin, remind me again why did we decided to attend a lecture sponsored by the Moody Bible Institute?"

Heidegger: "SHHH.... she'll hear you!"

ken oakes said...

the hands of rudolf and martin silently untwined and slowly returned to their respective books when the photographer asked if she might be able to snap a photo

CamAMoran said...

Question #4

Philosophy :: Faith
Dasein :: _____

A. Being-in-the-world
B: Kerygma
C: Ereignis
D: Demytholigizing
E: All and None of the Above

Terry Wright said...

Accidents with Glue, No. 539.

Jon said...

Both men struggled to determine whether or not the other existed without letting on to the other the fact that their existence was doubted....

roger flyer said...

Damnit, no German wine on this menu?

cynthia r. nielsen said...

(My apologies is I somehow posted this twice).

Heidegger: I wonder what Hannah's doing tonight?

Bultmann: My next project...the demythologizing of the Being of beings so that Christians will stop identifying Sein with the God of Israel.

James K.A. Smith said...

"Oh, Jesus, who the hell invited Rahner?," Bultmann snorted. "Keep your head down; he might not see us."

Sigurd said...

"...We don't even believe in Jebus."

John Hartley said...

"Shortly before the demolition of planet Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass, the cafe in Rickmansworth was a dreary place for any girl to sit in."

Martin said...

Well no one has commented so Mark Stevens I have to say "enhanced greatly"? you mean as someone who has peered into the abyss has an enhanced love of terra firma?

I'm sure you've read it but this is where I'm coming from CS Lewis on Bultmann. http://members.tripod.com/orthodox-web/papers/fern_seed.html

And what needs to be said about the unrepentant apologist for the Nazis?

Odious both of them.

Dave said...

Ben, you had asked about Dennison's book on the early Bultmann. My very amateurish sense is that it's not as thorough as R. Evang on Rudolph Bultmann in seiner Frühzeit, but still worthwhile. Here's a copy of a book note on that work:

"Rudolph Bultmann is widely recognized as one of the most important figures in twentieth century New Testament scholarship. In this updating and revision of his 1992 doctoral thesis, D. chronicles the development of Bultmann’s understanding of God from his birth in 1884 until his 1925 address, “What Does It Mean to Speak of God?” (the apparent rationale of stopping in 1925 is to show the beginnings of the effects of Bultmann’s relationship with Heidegger, who came to Marburg in 1923). Thus, D. analyzes Bultmann as a theologian, and argues that the roots of his understanding of God are to be sought in his pastor father’s role in passing on the theology of Schleiermacher and the mediating school that described God in immanent and interior terms. While Bultmann was subsequently influenced by both the History of Religion school and dialectical theologians like Karl Barth, the single most formative influence came from the Marburg neo-Kantians, and especially the philosophical theology of Wilhelm Hermann. The stark division between the sphere of inner religion and Erlebnis on the one hand from culture and Erfahrung on the other radicalized his early tendencies. This “neo-Kantian dualism” (a dominating motif in the book) remained consistent throughout Bultmann’s development, even as it came to be described in more existential terms when he finally came into contact with Heidegger. D. has argued persuasively, and though many of his conclusions about Bultmann’s earliest formation must remain at the level of inference, his case for the decisive importance of neo-Kantianism on Bultmann has been well-grounded. While the book makes an interesting study of Bultmann as theologian, perhaps more could be done in relating these results to his specific work on the New Testament, for which he is most well-known."

And Martin, you may have a point about Heidegger, but it is at least worth keeping in mind that it was Adolf Schlatter (with his unfortunate 1935 work, 'Wird der Jude über uns siegen?') and his students who tended to be supporters (or at least pretty passive toward) the Nazis - not Bultmann!

Ben Myers said...

Dave, many thanks for that helpful info on the Dennison book.

Neil said...

For the caption contest:

"There was no social life in Marburg, but then Heidegger attached no importance to such things. ... Rudolf Bultmann headed a group in which once a week, from eight to eleven in the evening, Greek texts were read aloud; at eleven began the cozy part, which likewise conformed to a strict timetable - one hour of superior academic gossip, followed by wine and cigars, when jokes were permitted." (Ruediger Safranski, Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil, trans. Ewald Osers, p. 130).

cyberpastor said...

How about:

Bultmann mutters: "If somebody quotes that ridiculous commentary on Romans again I think I'll scream."

Heidegger aside: "Are you going to finish that sandwich?"

Daniel said...

Caption possibility: Bultmann attempts to cheat on his metaphysics exam by looking into the soul of the student next to him.

(old Woody Allen joke)

Anyway, I was recently reading some earlier works by Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) and I was struck how much his theology attends to Heideggers work (specifically his “Prolegomena to the subject of God,” and Metaphysics of Being). Seems like there are some folks here that may be able to comment on this and are more familiar with Ratzinger's work (sometimes it's hard not to see Heidegger's influence behind almost everything, even in the works of his critics). Perhaps you could comment off-blog. obliged, daniel. dannya54@whidbey.com

David L. said...

"AUTHENTIC HEADACHES"

Tim said...

Mein Gott, this sermon is boring. It really could use a little peppering of Reader's Digest jokes.

Christopher H. Greene said...

Dasein is zusammen verloren gehen.

Szaszi Bene said...

Rudy, wir sind eigentlich nicht da auf diesem Foto!

Wayne said...

They're both preoccupied with the person behind them and musing: "Perhaps if I just ask her to meet me for coffee, she'll say yes."

Dan Shoe said...

< ---Some people are right brained,
some people are just right --->

kim fabricius said...

Anybody notice that Bultmann has the hand of an orang-utan?

Oppshom said...

"How philosophers spend their weekends."

roger flyer said...

Kim-
Yikes!
Photoshop...

Dan Morehead said...

I-24..."Bingo!"

Anthony said...

Having struggled to find something as revolutionary as his demythologizing project, Bultmann turned to his frind Heidegger for advice.

'You need something punchy Rudy, something that will grab people's attention. I know! How about 'incarnational ministry!'

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