HTS Theological Studies
Print version ISSN 0259-9422
VAN AARDE, Andries G.. Rudolf Bultmann: his most influential contribution in the 20th century: 'Urchristentum', 'Jesus', 'Commentary on John's gospel'?. Herv. teol. stud. [online]. 2011, vol.67, n.3, pp. 234-241. ISSN 0259-9422.
This article pays tribute to Rudolf Bultmann as a scholar of faith who fulfilled the most influential role in the interpretation of Jesus and the New Testament during the twentieth century. In the article Bultmann's leading publications are discussed against the background of the question of which one has been the most significant. Three important publications are identified, namely his book on the socio-cultural environment of the earliest followers of Jesus in first-century Semitic-Hellenistic world, his book on the historical Jesus, and his commentary on the Gospel of John. Various criteria are applied to value the significance of these three publications. They are Bultmann's understanding of what the scientific nature of the theological discourse principally would entail; how modern-day believers could adhere to an ancient mythological discourse; the way in which today a historical discourse could existentially been engaged with and why Jesus of Nazareth would be regarded as theologically significant. Both the depth of Bultmann's understanding of the substance of the theological discourse found in John's gospel and the quality of Bultmann's historical-critical analysis of John's gospel lead to the finding that this commentary should be considered to be not only the most significant for the twentieth century but beyond that time even into the current phase of biblical and theological interpretation.