Wednesday 21 September 2005

The Bible and history

Some of my fellow bloggers—Jim West, Joe Cathey and Mike Bird, among others—have been debating the relationship between the Bible and “history.”

This is an important and highly complex cluster of problems. Although I can’t enter into the discussion in any detail at the moment, let me just offer a theological comment (with particular reference to the New Testament).

In my post on the trustworthiness of Scripture, I said that the Bible “is trustworthy in the way that preaching is trustworthy.” I realise that this is a rather risky way of putting it, and some alert readers might have detected the influence of Bultmann behind the word “preaching.”

But in spite of the risks, I think this is an accurate description which does justice to the kerygmatic character of the biblical writings. I would add, though, that precisely in order to be kerygmatic the Bible must also have a definite historical core, just as preaching itself must have some historical core in order to be true “kerygma” and true “gospel.” (At least in principle, this entails only a minimal historical requirement, even though it does not necessarily limit the scope of historical inquiry.)

Thus at exactly this point I would side with Käsemann and Ebeling against Bultmann. In particular, I would consider historical Jesus research to be not merely legitimate, but theologically indispensable as an attempt to identify the historical core of the Christian kerygma.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...


Finally a condensed version of the bible. Should make things a lot easier!


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