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Faith and History: A Critique of Recent Dogmatics

  • J. C. Thomas (a1)


A great deal of modern Protestant theology looks very much like an attempt to conduct a salvage operation which is designed to make clear how it is possible to retain belief in Jesus Christ, and at the same time remain intellectually honest. For the same sceptical challenge which faces the secular historian also faces the theologian. If Christians are correct in arguing that the locus of God's revelation to man is in Jesus of Nazareth, then in order to know about this supposed revelation, it is necessary to know about a period of time in the past; it is necessary to know the history of the man's life and actions. Theologians are therefore faced with the question: how, if at all, is it possible to bridge the logical gap between statements describing what Jesus of Nazareth said and did, and statements describing the evidence for what Jesus of Nazareth said and did. The solution found to this question by theologians tends to be determined by their conscious and unconscious philosophical presuppositions; just as it did in the examples discussed above of secular critical philosophies of history.



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page 327 note 1 Bultmann, Rudolf, Theology of the New Testament, I (Eng.trans. S.C.M., 1965), 26.

page 328 note 1 Barth, Karl, Church Dogmatics, III, pt. ii (Eng.trans. T. and. T. Clarke, 1960), 452.

page 328 note 2 Bultmann, R.., Jesus Christ and Mythology (S.C.M., 1960), p. 184.

page 329 note 1 Bultmann, R.., op. cit. p. 84.

page 329 note 2 Barth, K.., Church Dogmatics, I, pt. I (Eng.trans. T. and. T. Clarke., 1936), 132.

page 330 note 1 (pq.-q),: -p.

page 331 note 1 Bultmann, R.., New Testament Theology, II (Eng.trans., S.C.M., 1965), 21.

page 331 note 2 Op. Cit. p. 22.

page 331 note 3 Op. cit. p. 22.

page 331 note 4 Op. cit. p. 9.

page 331 note 5 Op. Cit. p. 293–4.

page 331 note 6 Op. cit. p. 26.

page 331 note 7 Thus ‘General laws have quite analogous functions in history and in the natural sciences’. Hempel, . ‘The Function of General Laws in History’ in Readings in Philosophical Analysis, ed. Feigl, H.. and Sollan, W.. (Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1946), p. 459.

page 332 note 1 Bultmann, R.. ‘New Testament and Mythology’, Eng. trans., in Kerygma and Myth, ed. Bartsch, Hans W.., I (S.P.C.K., 1964), 5.

page 333 note 1 Bultmann, R..; Kerygma and Myth, p. 42.

page 336 note 1 Ayer, A. J., Language, Truth and Logic, 2nd ed. (Gollanz, 1946), p. 115.

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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
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