For years many theologians remained under the influence of Bultmann’s existential approach. But there were also signs of some dissatisfaction. In a landmark 1953 lecture, Ernst Käsemann argued that early Christian commitment to a particular message did not require believers to be uninterested in at least some minimum amount of historical facts in the life of Jesus. Rather, belief in Jesus actually requires the presence of some historical content.^17
Other Bultmannian scholars soon joined Käsemann in a modest critique of skeptical approaches that attempted to eliminate any historical basis in early Christianity. At the same time, scholars like Günther Bornkamm also continued certain other Bultmannian emphases: a rejection of the Nineteenth Century quest for the historical Jesus, and the assertion that faith does not depend on historical
14 Rudolf Bultmann, “New Testament and Mythology,” in Kerygmaand Myth: A Theological Debate, ed. by Hans Werner Bartsch (New York: Harper and Row, 1961), pp. 3–8 for example.
15 Ibid., pp. 9–16; Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus Christ and Mythology(New York: Scribner’s, 1958), pp. 16–18.
16 Barth and Bultmann had a famous disagreement over the reason for Paul’s citation of the resurrection appearances in 1 Cor. 15:3ff. Bultmann’s conclusion that Paul’s chief purpose was to present proof for Jesus’ resurrection (even though Bultmann thought that such was misguided) is important for our purposes. A brief synopsis of Bultmann’s response is found in his Theology of the New Testament, transl. by Kendrick Grobel (New York: Scribners, 1951), vol. I, p. 295. Barth registered his complaints against Bultmann on several occasions. One interesting claim is that, apart from the problems that he perceived in Bultmann’s program of demythologization, Barth thought that Bultmann’s agenda was a return to the old Liberal emphasis (How I Changed My Mind, p. 68), a claim that Bultmann vehemently denied. We will return to a critique of Bultmann’s views in Chapters 3–4.