Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lewis vs. Bultmann

Rudolf BultmannHere, from Bultmann’s Theology of the New Testament (p. 30) is another [example]:
”Observe in what unassimilated fashion the prediction of the parousia (Mk 8:38) follows upon the prediction of the passion (8:31). What can he mean? Unassimilated? Bultmann believes that predictions of the parousia are older than those of the passion. He therefore wants to believe—and no doubt does believe— that when they occur in the same passage some discrepancy or ‘unassimilation’ must be perceptible between them. But surely he foists this on the text with shocking lack of perception. Peter has confessed Jesus to be the Anointed One. That flash of glory is hardly over before the dark prophecy begins—that the Son of Man must suffer and die. Then this contrast is repeated. Peter, raised for a moment by his confession, makes his false step; the crushing rebuff ‘Get thee behind me’ follows. Then, across that momentary ruin which Peter (as so often becomes, the voice of the Master, turning to the crowd, generalizes the moral. All His followers must take up the cross. This avoidance of suffering, this self- preservation, is not what life is really about. Then, more definitely still, the summons to martyrdom. You must stand to your tackling. If you disown Christ here and now, He will disown you later. Logically, emotionally, imaginatively, the sequence is perfect. Only a Bultmann could think otherwise.

C.S. Lewis on Biblical Criticism – Part 5
C.S. Lewis, “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism” (an essay Lewis read at Westcott House, Cambridge, on May 11, 1959). First published in Christian Reflections (1981), later published as Fern-seed and Elephants (1998). This text is taken from The Essential C.S. Lewis (Touchstone, 1996)) 351-352.


  1. "Only a Bultmann could think otherwise." Ouch. Lewis reminds me of Luther sometimes (though of course Luther was even more biting and sarcastic). Great excerpt :)

  2. If you think that one was sharp, check out the reading on Jan 23 ;-)  Welcome to the Mere C.S. Lewis site, Laura.