Review of ¿Es Posible una Exégesis sin Presuposiciones? by Rudolf Bultmann

  1. Nombre y apellido del alumno Bert Amsing
  2. Fecha May 18, 2016
  3. Título del texto leído Rudolf Bultmann

¿Es Posible una Exégesis sin Presuposiciones?

  1. ¿De qué trata el artículo o capítulo leído?

Rudolf Bultmann, in his article, “¿Es Posible una Exégesis sin Presuposiciones?” claims that the answer is both yes and no.  He then takes the time to explain what he means in terms of “prejuicios,” and “presuposiciones,” and “precomprehension.”

  1. ¿Cuál es la idea central del autor?

The central idea is that the exegete must be aware of the historical and intellectual baggage that he comes with to the text.  Bultmann insists that we must allow the text to speak for itself.  Whether or not following Bultmann’s advice really allows the text to speak for itself without interference and whether the message is comprehensible, definitive and applicable over time are questions that still remain open.

  1. ¿De qué nos quiere convencer?

He wants to convince us that it is part of the task of the exegete (a hermeneutical task) to be aware of the historical/cultural/intellectual baggage that we bring to the exegesis of a biblical text.

  1. ¿Cuáles son los puntos fuertes y los puntos débiles del texto?

There are so many things to say about this approach that the best thing to do is simply start at the beginning and make comments as we go along.  Hopefully, at the end, we can produce a conclusion that will give us insight into what Bultmann brings to the hermeneutical task.
The first thing that needs to be said, in general, is that few people nowadays would disagree with Bultmann’s answer to his own question, “¿Es Posible una Exégesis sin Presuposiciones?”  His answer is “yes, and no” and everyone would agree in principle.  The truth is that his own presuppositions affect his answers to this important question and therein lies the problem.  We might all agree that the answer is “yes, and no” but we would probably disagree in what way the answer is “yes” and in what way the answer is “no.”  Especially from the point of view of the general Evangelical position on exegesis/hermeneutics/homiletics, there are a number of differences of opinion with Bultmann in specific even though we, also, would agree with him in general.
Since Bultmann, himself, presents his thoughts on the basis of five thesis, we will do the same.  He spends the majority of his time on the first two but makes comments on the last three as well.  But in order to do that we need to start at the beginning of his argument where he introduces the fundamental question.  “¿Es posible una exégesis sin presuposiciones?”  As we have said, his answer is both yes and no.  Yes, it is possible if we consciously come to the text without any preconceived notions of what the text wants to say, if we have recognized and removed from consideration any theology/doctrine/dogma or preconceived notions of what the text wants to tell us.  In general, that is noteworthy but in practice, impossible.  No one comes to the text as a “blank slate” as he himself would point out (referring, in his case, to the biblical text but meaning the same thing).
Neither the text nor the interpreter is without preconceived notions of what they will find when they come to the biblical text.  Nor should they.  Perhaps right here at the beginning we should point out that it is impossible for someone to come to the biblical text with no idea of what it wants to say (and most of the time without a well articulated set of authentic questions either) and with no concept of what it is all about.  Sometimes, in our modern age, we encounter someone with seemingly no prior knowledge whatsoever of the biblical story and characters and meaning of Scripture but it is rare (and not helpful).  The very act of having presuppositions based on faulty interpretations of the past and being made aware of them is the “dialectical-dialogue” (Barth/Bultmann) nature of the educational process which God, himself, is well aware of and has accounted for by making the community of believers over time the incubator and foundation of our inquiry into the text.  Bultmann himself makes a similar point later on in his article.
So, even here, right at the beginning, the answer is neither “yes or no,” and yet both “yes and no.”  No, we cannot come to the text without some prejudice and pre-interpretation (both existentially, historically, culturally and theologically/doctrinally).  Yes, we can make ourselves aware of those prejudices in the context of our communal effort to allow the biblical text speak for itself.  We are the ones with the problem (the noetic effects of sin) and, together, in obedience to the imperative as we live out the indicative and in humility before the text as a divine message through human means of communication, we can become increasingly aware of our prejudices and presuppositions and pre-interpretations of the biblical text and seek not simply to remove them but to judge them by the biblical text itself so that, over time, a corpus of concepts, interpretations and even doctrine rooted in the biblical text as determined by the believing, obeying, humble community of believers can guide us into an even deeper understanding and application of biblical truth to our present situation.  Many of these concepts are in “incipient form” in the five thesis of Bultmann but his own philosophical presuppositions get in the way of his laudable attempt to allow the biblical text to speak for itself.
Therefore, concerning his first thesis that “La exégesis de los escritos bíblicos, semejante a otra interpretación del texto, debe ser desprejuiciada (p. 5),” we would agree with the intent but disagree that it is possible or even desirable (given its impossibility).  Better to say that it “debe ser desprejuiciada” in terms of anything that does not arise necessarily from the biblical text itself and that it ought to “ser prejuiciada” by the agreed to “pre-conceptions, perspectives and doctrines” that arise necessarily from the biblical text.  The fact that this is also immensely difficult (given the noetic effects of sin even among those who believe and obey) does not change the fact that this is the true, authentic task of exegesis at least as a starting point.  In the words of St Augustine (but applied somewhat differently), we are “able not to sin” even if we find it rather difficult and we are harassed by both our own stubborn wills as well as the malignant (but often banal and unintentional) wills of those who oppose the Kingdom of God on earth.  It is the sanctification and “renewing of our minds” that will accomplish it.  More to be said on this topic later on.
Bultmann’s second thesis goes in the opposite direction.  He says, “sin embargo, la exégesis no es sin presuposiciones, porque como interpretación histórica presupone el método de investigación histórico-critico (p. 5).”   This is where his answer is “no,” you cannot do exegesis with presuppositions.  Again we would agree and disagree.  First of all, Evangelicals would agree that an “interpretación histórica” is very much desired since, as the biblical text points out so clearly, our faith is based on the historical reality of the resurrection (and therefore the person and work of Christ and his validation of the Old Testament as God’s working out of his historical redemptive purpose over time).  What we would have a problem with is Bultmann’s own philosophical prejudice (however understandable) against the supernatural within the cause and effect nature of historical events.
We might actually agree that “El método histórico, incluye ya la presuposición de que la historia de un continuum cerrado de efectos en el cual los eventos individuales están conectados por una sucesión de causa y efecto (p. 2).”  Before we look at that key word, “cerrado,” we will allow Bultmann a further word about the freedom of the will (a concept central to the existential point of view).  He says, “Esto no significa que el proceso de la historia está determinado por la ley causal y que no hay decisiones libres de los hombres cuyas acciones determinan el curso de los sucesos históricos (p. 2).”  That is a good modification to make but it still presents problems based on his own presuppositions.  If we truly come to the biblical text with humility and openness to what it wants to say to us (a position Bultmann espouses), then there is no way to avoid the “supernatural” character of its message.  That “divine” element is key to the exegetical process (according to the biblical text itself) and must be taken into account.
Bultmann himself, in his third thesis, talks about the “relación-vital” that the exegete must have with the content of the biblical text (although he interprets that relationship in existential terms only).  Still, he himself, says that you can respond to the claims of the text with your own free decision.  It may be the “yes” of faith or the “no” of incredulity.  Exactly.  What Bultmann apparently misses is that only the “yes” of faith can have a “vital” relationship with the message of the text.  He claims that all men, in spite of their own “yes” or “no” before the biblical message, have a “vital” interest in the questions being asked even if they do not have a “vital” interest in the answer being given.  We would disagree.  It must be, by his own admission, a “relación-vital” with the message itself.  How is that possible if your answer is “no.”
Bultmann, as an existentialist, is probably not that interested in a definitive answer that transcends time and culture applicable to all men in every circumstance and probably doesn’t believe that such an answer to the existential needs of men even exists.  It is the search that matters.  All of this is in “counterpoint” to the biblical text itself which claims to have a definite answer and, furthermore, claims that you cannot even understand the answer, much less accept it without the “divine intervention” of God (whether along Armenian or Calvinistic lines).  So where is Bultmann’s respect for the biblical text and his desire to listen carefully without prejudice or presuppositions.  It is his own philosophical presuppositions that trip him up.
If he would allow the God of the biblical text to actually exist and lay claim to the authorship of the biblical text in the first place, then everything would change.  A new hermeneutical factor would have to be taken into account.  The concept of a “closed” system of cause and effect would now be open to other “free wills” of intelligent, sentient beings whose existence is verified by the biblical text itself.  In that sense, both in terms of the indirect effect of these other “free wills” (angelic, demonic and divine) through other “free but damaged wills heavily influenced by outside forces and essentially determined by a fundamental rebellion against the ontological/existential source of their own existence” (humans) as well as their direct intervention in the cause and effect flow of history (miracles), there is more going on between heaven and earth that what Bultmann is willing to accept based on his “predisposition against the supernatural.”
That is not to say that any interpretation of history is now legitimate if it calls on extra-human forces at work (whether true or not) in the flow of cause and effect over time, but rather to say that the existence of these forces arise from the biblical text and it is the biblical text itself that interprets them for us within the context of God´s historical redemptive purpose for history (and therefore little green men and colorful unicorns would not be accepted as intelligent, sentient beings able to exert influence on the flow of cause and effect over time that we call history since they are not part of God’s interpretation of history).  Even further, God himself, as seen in his acts within history, may be an indirect or direct source of causal action but that doesn’t negate the concept of the continuous flow of cause and effect as central to history and our ability to understand it and interpret it.  What is at stake is the “closed” nature of that cause and effect flow to outside forces (such as God himself) when the biblical text demands the recognition that life and history are under the direct and indirect influence of the supernatural as defined by the biblical text itself.
Having said all of that (much in anticipation of the third thesis of Bultmann as well, which is closely connected here), let me say something about the apologetic nature of the biblical text and our approach to dealing with all attempts to interpret it outside of the framework which it provides.  If it is true that a “relacion-vital” with the message of the text is a hermeneutical factor that must be taken into account in the exegesis of the biblical text, then there is an undeniable “apologetic” approach that must be taken towards those who have chosen to say “no” to the biblical message.  There is no way for someone who is not living the indicative-imperative resurrection life (which is the result of a “yes” to the biblical message) to exegete the biblical text with authenticity and integrity just because they are vitally interested in the questions that they bring to the text.
From a “docetic” point of view in which there is a process of enlightment over time, of course, God, in his grace, draws us to the biblical text (often in the context of a relationship with someone who is a living testimony of the power of the indicative-imperative resurrection life which is the result of a “yes” to the biblical message) through the Holy Spirit before we have taken a decision.  That is where the mystery of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in the process of salvation (and the interpretation/hermeneutic which is key to salvation) comes into play.  At what point do you actually make a decision and is that decision based on a realization of the truth of the biblical message (the cognitive/relational gift of faith) that in itself, was not so much a decision as a discovery aided, according to the biblical text, by divine enlightenment?  How much can you discover without that “divine” element?
Certainly a lot of circumstantial and perhaps even fascinating historical facts and ancient wisdom that may have some application to our present situation could be found by the “no” group armed with effective, historical and linguistic, tools.  But the realization of truth that draws you out of your subjective concerns and questions into the objective reality of the divine perspective and which demands allegiance, even love, based on the rupture/reconciliation with the God who is there, is a further step that separates the sheep from the goats.  This “yes” of faith is an ontological/existential dividing point and a hermeneutical pre-requisite to receiving, understanding and living out the indicative-imperative resurrection life that is the answer to our contemporary “spiritual/relational” needs of today.
Therefore, as a further point, there is no other approach to a biblically-based philosophy of education from the “yes” side of the equation than to approach all other “no” positions except “apologetically.”  That is not “merely” apologetic but rather “necessarily” apologetic arising from the nature and message of the biblical text itself (and indirectly attested to by Bultmann).  In terms of language, one can (like Francis Schaeffer) be so gracious in his approach as to provide the historical justifications and misconceptions of someone’s position on its own merits but, even then, it is still “apologetics” though filled with grace, as the biblical text itself bids us to do.
Bultmann in his third thesis, which we have already mentioned, says, “Además, esta presupuesta una “relación-vital” del exegeta respecto al asunto con el cual la Biblia está interesada, junto con su relación, una pre comprensión (p. 5).”  Taking all of the preceding discussion into account, it still must be said that there is some truth to Bultmann’s position that the exegete must be vitally interested in the questions (as well as the biblical answers).
In fact, the fundamental ontological/existential questions (e.g. Paul Tillich) are rooted in our experience of the world.  What is often called the “secular problem of evil” is of daily concern to all humans around the world.  The amoral position of nature and it’s seemingly capricious dealings with us (both in terms of adverse circumstances as well as our own bodies/minds) is troubling.  We have an “estrangement-dependency” dilemma that we try to deal with through “religious” appeasement/manipulation of the “gods” behind (or in) creation who can deal with these forces more effectively than we can.  The fact that it doesn’t work very well doesn’t change the fact that it gives us an outlet for our frustrations and hopes in the face of an overwhelming attack on our own self-value that we perceive as self-aware, sentient beings.
Certainly, that fundamental Fruerbach/Fruedian perspective on the human condition plays well with the existentialist concerns with being-in-the-world (and is not at variance with the biblical worldview).  The point is that existential questions are legitimate and we all should have a vital interest in them even if we find it difficult to articulate or have lost hope for an adequate answer that can transcend evil, suffering and, even, death.  But questions are not enough.  An understanding of, and allegiance to the person and message of the Bible is essential for understanding our plight and the solution to our dilemma from the point of view of the divine.  If we protest that this approach to hermeneutics requires an a priori faith before complete investigation and understanding, we would agree.  You can come to the biblical text without faith and obedience and learn some things (and even provide helpful perspectives that were not apparent from a faith stance) but the biblical text itself, if we are willing to allow it to speak within its own worldview and supernatural presuppositions, demands allegiance before it will reveal all of its secrets.  As an analogy of sorts, this is also true of human relationships and is a necessary pre-requisite to the hermeneutic of another human life.  This “relational” approach to the written text is the natural conclusion to a “faith-stance” that claims there is a “divine” element to this particular text that cannot be ignored.
Bultmann states his fourth thesis (which is an extension of his third) in the following way.  He says, “Esta precomprensión es algo cerrado, sino mas bien abierto, como puede ser un encuentro existenciario con el texto y una decisión existenciaria (p. 5).”  The precomprehension he is talking about here is both the “relacion-vital” with the existential problems of life and its questions we must ask of God if we have moved from the secular problem of evil to the religious problem of evil as well as an acknowledgement of the essential continuity of the human condition (which I call the human-human “analogy of being”).  The structures and content of our existence must have some continuity with the past or there is no way for us to understand or access any information that it may have available for us.  All of which is true.  God chose to use human language within its specific historical-cultural situation, with all of its noetic baggage affected by sin both creationally (man-man) and redemptively (God-man) to get his message across.  Of course, the Holy Spirit would have to be involved to counteract the ongoing affects of sin sufficiently for the message of God “not to return to him without accomplishing the task he entrusted to it.”  And, of course, he would need real human beings with all of their “sin” baggage on their spiritual pilgrimage of progressive sanctification to provide experiential verification of the power of the indicative-imperative resurrection life that an allegiance to the person and message of the biblical text would create in them increasingly over time.  All of these things are part of the hermeneutical process, according to the biblical text, and must be taken into account by everyone who claims to be an exegete of scripture.
Is there a place for the “no” group to learn and discover elements of the truth of the biblical message?  Yes, of course.  But they must no longer claim, on the basis of their own respect for the biblical text, to be the “only” or the “complete” or the “best” approach to biblical exegesis/hermeneutics.  More humility is needed and more authentic integrity required by those who truly believe that the job of the exegete is to “listen” to the text first and recognize that it claims to be more than just another religious writing.  It is the living, powerful Word of the God “who is there” and who wants to enter into a new relationship with his children through the person and work of his son, Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit as expressed through the biblical text.  Yes, that is a theological/doctrinal position but it is required by the biblical text itself.
Finally, Bultmann gives us his fifth thesis.  He says, “La comprensión del texto nunca es definitiva, sino más bien permanece abierta porque el significado de las Escrituras se despliega a sí mismo, de nuevo, a cada futuro (p. 5).”  On the one hand, we would agree with him since he is talking about the “comprensión” of the text and not the text itself.  Our full understanding of the message will not be complete until the new age when we will see him face to face.  Of course, Bultmann is talking about the existential basis for understanding truth as a search for meaning that is never fully realized since the foundational elements of the secular problem of evil are with us throughout life and in every generation.  Our understanding of the limits of our “comprensión” (the power of reason to access biblical truth) is based on the noetic effects of sin, the progressive sanctification (and renewing) of our minds, and the incomparable riches of his self-revelation that will not even be exhausted by the length and breadth of eternity.
On the other hand, Bultmann didn’t say that our understanding of the text will never be “complete,” he said that it would not be “definitiva.”  That is another issue altogether.  The biblical text, itself, tells us that the Scriptures have a limited (but vital) purpose which is our salvation (the resolution of the ontological/existential/relational rupture between man and God).  Arising from the biblical text, then, is a definitive (even if not complete) answer to our “existential dilemma.”  If one takes the biblical text at its word as a “divine” text using “human” means of communication, than you cannot avoid the conclusion that the message which demands an answer is definitive.  If it were not, how could we in good conscious give an answer.
Certainly, it is also true, as stated earlier in this review, that every generation must find the biblical answer to their own “intrahistorical” or “transhistorical” questions.  They may articulate the questions differently, but the answer remains the same.  For Bultmann, the new answers are based on the “indefinite” nature of the biblical answer (or our ability to comprehend it) when it should be based on the “ontological/existential/relational” nature of the one asking the questions.  The answer is the same but it is rediscovered not only by each generation but by each individual person as they encounter God (and his message/answer) through the biblical text.
But this is not done in isolation.  There is a tradition, a corpus of previously discovered truths that arise naturally and necessarily from the biblical text, critically assessed and continually challenged within the “yes” community of indicative-imperative resurrection life believers.  This “spiritual” context is also the work of the Holy Spirit even with all of its problems, disagreements, lack of clarity and outright opposition.  Still, there is a core belief system (such as the Apostle’s Creed) supplemented by ever specific confessions of faith and theological interpretations which, despite their variations, fall into one of two categories.  Those who have said “yes” to the message of the gospel and those who have said “no.”  The difference is notable and clear in concept even if it isn’t always so clear in execution or in application to a specific church body or individual.
One other thing could be mentioned here in light of the Jewish approach to biblical interpretation.  Of course, they are focused on the Old Testament (especially the Torah) but also the religious texts of their tradition.  Although there is a fundamental disagreement between their approach and the general Evangelical approach, there are one or two points of convergence and analogy that may be helpful as a general comparison.
The Jewish “accent,” according to author David Hartman, in his book La Tradición Interpretativa, falls on the tradition/community that is undertaking the hermeneutic.  This approach is a necessary correction to the overly “individualistic/rational” approach of Western Christianity and arises as a hermeneutical prerequisite from the biblical text itself both in the OT and NT.  But, from an Evangelical point of view, they go too far and, in fact, place the biblical text “below” or subject to the “interpreting community” which, by definition, cuts it off from its “divine” authorship rooted in objective acts and words originally spoken in a specific historical context and given interpretation through the biblical text.  The fact that we do not have access to that historical basis except through the biblical text which can only be partially verified through historical scientific methods, does not change the fact that the biblical text is accepted, on its own testimony, as having an original meaning and intention within a specific historical/cultural context to the original audience (which shares an essential “analogy of being” and transhistorical and transcultural “continuity” with all people everywhere and in every time).  Without that “rationally/historically partially/completely unverified/unverifiable” foundation in the “divine” nature of the biblical text (doctrine of inspiration) which claims to be rooted in history, any interpretation of the biblical text will lack an anchor that roots it in anything objective.  In that case, all interpretations are acceptable because the only “objective” truth is “the interpreting community.”  That position would deny the viewpoint of the biblical text itself (in the OT and the NT) that our faith is rooted in a God who really, objectively, acted (and acts) in the flow of cause and effect of redemptive history both directly (miracles) and indirectly (through human agents).  That is unacceptable to an Evangelical position on hermeneutics.
This argument can be made even “within” the Jewish context based only on the OT biblical text and given the self-revelation of God from the mountain (whether or not its fulfillment in Christ is accepted).  Given the nature of the biblical text itself, these conclusions are warranted.
That doesn’t mean that it is difficult to understand why and how the Jewish community, in the face of ongoing persecution and with a worldvision grounded in the establishment by God of the original believing community and the resulting “communal/relational” mentality that resulted necessarily from that divine act, developed the “interpreting community” as their major hermeneutical principle and why they allowed it to eclipse the biblical text itself (especially in light of the similar invasion of philosophy into hermeneutics/theology by Aristotelian thought through the Jewish scholar, Maimonides).
     Furthermore, the concept of a “biological” Jew as the only legitimate member of the “interpreting community” is both appropriate as well as misleading from an OT perspective.  It is appropriate in the sense that it was through direct “divine” and miraculous intervention in the course of history that gave birth to the Jewish people in Abraham’s and Sarah’s old age long after the human possibility of giving birth was long past.  Their very existence is a divine miracle.  But it wasn’t their “existence” that is the hermeneutical principle suggested by the biblical text (even in the OT).  Rather it was the “covenant relationship” between Abraham (and his seed) and God that is in view here.  Even in the OT, there is “a cutting off and a grafting in” that clearly gives the covenant relationship priority over the “biology” of being Abraham’s offspring.  That might have been something that Jesus/Paul said, but it is a legitimate “hermeneutical” insight even within the OT context and was the basis for the Pharisaic misunderstanding of the OT scriptures.  The same can be said of the Jewish interpretive tradition today (even though they find it, like the Pharisees did, to be offensive).
Still, there is an “analogy” here that is worth picking up as a hermeneutical principle for us today that is rooted in the OT revelation.  If that “covenant relationship” is the basis for the “interpreting community” (which in the NT would include “gentiles” – the ultimate dismissal of “biology” in favor of “relationship” while recognizing that “biology” and “covenant relationship” was intended originally to be vitally connected as “a light to the gentiles”), then we are back to the “yes” group and their acceptance and experience of the ontological/existential presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives that makes them a “new creation,” possible because of the substitutionary atonement as accepted and valued by the Father in fulfillment of his claims of justice against us and made possible by the Son.  This experience of the “faith-walk” of the indicative-imperative resurrection life is based on the historically/rationally “reasonable” study of the biblical text and validated in our contemporary experience (precisely because we “reasonably” believe that the message is actually and objectively true in history).
As a hermeneutical principle, the concept of an “interpreting community” made up of people in “covenant relationship” with the divine author of the biblical text and who testify to the enlightening work of the Holy Spirit (as verified and validated by the community over time), would be generally acceptable to the Evangelical church but with the humility of the community before the priority of the biblical text and a stronger anchor in the belief (whether completely or partially verified or not) in the ultimate historical and objective truth of the events, actions and words of God in the flow of redemptive history.
      In fact, the contention here is that the Evangelical church, based on this hermeneutical principle rooted in the OT/NT biblical text, would do well to abandon the “individualism” of Western philosophy which is foreign to the biblical worldview and embrace a more comprehensive view of corporate sin and spiritual fellowship as an essential expression of the indicative-imperative resurrection life that we have in common.  That “spiritual” interpretive community may provide a much needed correction to the splintering/dividing nature of the “theological” interpretive community by focusing not on outward organizational/doctrinal expressions but on the essential “covenantal relationship” we have together as the believing community.  A “minimalist/essential” confession (ie. Apostle´s Creed) rooted in the inspiration of the biblical text (generally agreed to by all Evangelicals – and others – even though there is some disagreement over the concepts of  inerrancy and infallibility) , the focus of redemptive history on the person and work of Christ, and the necessity of a true allegiance/obedience to the divine indicative in the power of the Holy Spirit can become the groundwork of our joint exegesis/hermeneutic and “interpretive community.”  Otherwise, our very lack of unity, when it refuses to listen to the “potential” insights of other believers within the believing community, puts us in danger of losing sight of the essential “cross-based” resurrection life that we share in the Spirit which is the only reason we understand anything at all about this glorious redemption we have in Christ.  On the other hand, it will protect us from potentially dangerous views coming from those who do not have that basic hermeneutical experience and approach while allowing us to accept any insights they may have by judging them in the light of the biblical text itself.
In conclusion, there seems to be a clear hermeneutical approach to Scripture from a position of faith and obedience and a clear message (the “perspicuity” of Scripture) that calls us to live out the indicative-imperative resurrection life the biblical text calls us to.  The fact that the “yes” group may be in a minority even among those who call themselves “Christian” is not the issue.  The only issue is whether these delineating lines arise from the biblical text themselves when taken without a “predisposition against the supernatural” on the one hand (which the existentialist philosophical position clearly has) and when “dogmatic presuppositions and principles” are critically and continually challenged in the light of the biblical text itself.  In other words, the Christian faith and message must be validated by itself on the basis of its own faith presuppositions arising from the biblical text or not at all.  Because of the noetic effects of sin and the distinctiveness of faith as a unique “relational” way of knowing (with analogies and similarities to human relationships), reason, by itself, will not and cannot accomplish the task (after all, “practical” reason is not “pure” reason which may have escaped the full force of the noetic effects of sin but since the problem with our practical “knowing” is at its core “relational,” according to the biblical text, that is totally understandable).  That is the only “closed” system that the biblical text will allow in the process of interpreting its message for the modern world.

  1. ¿Qué aspectos no entendí? ¿ó qué preguntas tengo todavía?

There is much about Bultmann’s position which is not entirely clear yet since this is a brief article dedicated to a specific topic.  More work needs to be done by the present author in putting Bultmann’s contributions in its philosophical and historical setting.

  1. ¿Cómo se puede aplicar el contenido a la tarea hermenéutica?

As you can see from the foregoing discussion, much of the structure of Bultmann’s thought is worthy of acceptance but within the theological/doctrinal framework that arises naturally and necessarily from the biblical text.  It isn’t merely an apologetic that is needed but rather a re-interpretation of Bultmann’s thought within the parameters of his own concern with an authentic “listening” of the biblical text.  Instead of de-mythologizing the biblical text, we should re-orient Bultmann´s genuine contributions within the “natural” framework of the biblical text.  Even he should be able to appreciate the attempt even if he disagreed with the conclusions.
Bert Amsing
Master’s Program – FIET