The Death Of Jesus Of Nazareth

2350 Words Oct 15th, 2016 10 Pages
When assessing the relative merits of various approaches to the death of Jesus of Nazareth, it is worth bearing in mind C.S. Lewis’ measured observation that ‘a good many different theories have been held as to how it works; [but] what all Christians are agreed on is that it does work’. This is not, however, to suggest that all theories of atonement are equally valid, nor is it to affirm any theory which represents the death of Jesus as redemptive or restorative as necessarily credible or valid per se. Rudolf Bultmann’s existentialist and “demythologized” theology of the cross represents perhaps the most cogent departure from traditional models of atonement advanced from the church fathers to the 16th century reformers. For Bultmann, an accomplished New Testament scholar and form critic par excellence, the “salvation event” is ahistorical; occurring not in the cross of Christ, but rather in the “kerygma”; that is, the preaching of Christ crucified and risen. Given that the standard by which the integrity any theology of the cross must be judged is not that of ecclesial tradition, but that of scripture, the task of determining the reliability of Bultmann’s scheme becomes one of biblical interpretation. While Bultmann appeals extensively to scripture in the formulation of his theology, the validity of his conclusions have been challenged both by Bultmann’s contemporaries and more recent scholars. From a dogmatic standpoint Karl Barth notably defended the orthodox…
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