Focal Point: Resurrection

Jesus—God and Man, by Wolfhart Pannenberg (Westminster, 1968, 415 pp., $10), is reviewed by Leon Morris, principal, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia,

For some years now Rudolf Bultmann and his disciples have dominated the theological scene. Bultmann’s demand for “demythologizing” first captured the attention, but his school of thought has retained its influence on other grounds. It has made popular the view that the Gospels tell us little about Jesus of Nazareth, though much about the faith of the early Church.

Now, however, the Bultmannian approach is being challenged. Wolfhart Pannenberg, a noteworthy thinker, rejects categorically many of the typical Bultmannian. positions.

For instance, Bultmann regards the resurrection as a legend, but Pannenberg does not hesitate to call it a historical event. He points out that the resurrection appearances and the empty tomb are independent of each other. After examining the evidence for both, he concludes that both should be accepted. He is firmly convinced that the Church’s belief in the resurrection of Jesus is very well founded.

Indeed, so well founded does he find this belief that he makes the resurrection the center of his understanding of Jesus. It is only on the basis of the resurrection that he can perceive the divinity of Jesus. As the title of the book indicates, Pannenberg sees Jesus as God. But he never regards this as self-evident. Nor does he see it as something that could have been discerned up to the time of the crucifixion. It is the resurrection that shows Jesus to be divine.

Pannenberg makes a good deal of the thought that the resurrection is retroactive. Jesus’ union with God is decided retroactively only from the resurrection. The whole ...

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