At the center of the current debate over the matter of communicating the message of the Christian Evangel to our generation stands the figure of Rudolf Bultmann, formerly a professor at the University of Marburg.
Basic to Bultmann’s message is, of course, his thesis that the message of the New Testament is couched in mythological language. That is to say, he holds that the New Testament writers thought in terms of a world-view which is no longer intelligible to the minds of men. He takes exception, in behalf of Modern Man, to what he regards as an outdated cosmology which he holds to underlie the entire structure of the Gospels, the Epistles, and the Book of Revelation. He contends that these records are bound inextricably to a view of a three-layered universe, of a geocentric astronomy, and of a philosophy of history which is no longer meaningful to the man of today.
He proposes, in the light of this, that the New Testament is to be taken in its entirety. In actual practice he resorts to eliminating certain passages by the expedient of regarding them as interpolations. But his explicit intention is to leave the New Testament whole, and then to “interpret” it in its entire form in such a manner as to expose the basic truth which he feels to underlie its “mythological” elements. He has made a name for himself through his elaboration of the process of “demythologizing,” by which he proposes to peel away the layers of “myth” which overlay the “real” message of the New Testament writers.
The objectives of his method are as follows: first, to reinterpret the message of the Gospel in a manner which will eliminate thought-elements which are either unintelligible or ...1
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