Monday, April 01, 2013

April Book ‘O the Month

I went to the national meeting of the American Academy of Religion back in November (2012). As those in the academy know, one of the best parts of this conference is the bookseller’s exhibition hall – a huge room full of books from various publishers in the broad field of religious studies, all showcasing their newest titles and offering a deep discount. I bought one book, and only one book. And this was it.

Konrad Hammann, Rudolf Bultmann: A Biography, trans. Philip E. Devenish (Salem, OR: Polebridge Press, 2013).

This volume was hot off the presses, and I didn’t wait for it to cool before I read it (it is on the list of books that I read last year). It was a captivating and illuminating read, and I heartily recommend it to all students of modern theology. Seriously. Scrape together the funds immediate to buy and read this book.

To further whet appetites, I include below part of Hamman’s discussion of Bultmann’s 1925 essay, “What Does It Mean to Speak of God?”

Konrad Hammann, Rudolf Bultmann, 232:
[I]t is necessary to recognize that man’s sinful nature makes it impossible to speak correctly of God and of one’s own existence, for only thus can the concept of God as the wholly other have its true meaning.

And as with God, so also with our existence: we cannot speak about it. This is the case especially from the perspective of the modern worldview, by virtue of which the human being distinguishes himself as subject from other objects, thus observes himself from the outside as object, and so is effectively unable to grasp his own true nature. Accurate speaking of God, however, would always have to be speaking at once of our existence as one that is grounded in God and vice versa. . . . Faith, as the free deed of obedience, affirms the doing, the word of God to us. Thus “faith becomes the Archimedean point” from which vantage the individual can forever speak anew of the justifying God and at the same time of his sinful and grace-filled existence.



Alexander said...

Just today I read an interesting review of Bultmann's correspondence with Martin Heidegger, written in English by F.-W. Graf, who (in his own way) is a notable German intellectual. Journal for the History of Modern Theology/Zeitschrift für Nueere Theologiegeschichte 17 (2010), 294 – 296.

Scott Rice said...

It is only fitting I should read the biography since I came across your post while taking a break from reading one of Bultmann's essays. Thanks for the post, Travis.

W. Travis McMaken said...

Re: both Alex and Scott, what timing!

Alex, is the review in English or the letters themselves?

Todd Brewer said...

Read this and loved it. A great balance of summary of Bultmann's works and interesting details from his life.