Many of Bultmann’s disciples agreed with this critique that there had to be some adequate historical knowledge of Jesus. We saw in Chapter 1 that the major thrust came from the “new quest for the historical Jesus” scholars like Ernst Käsemann,

5 Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus and the Word, transl. by Louise Pettibone Smith and Erminie Huntress (New York: Scribner’s, 1934), p. 8.

6 Bultmann, Theology, vol. I, chapter I in particular.

7 For some instances, see Luke 1:1–4; John 1:14; 20:30–31; Acts 2:22–38; 17:30–31; Heb. 2:3–4; 2 Pet. 1:16–18; 1 John 1:1–3.

8 John Macquarrie, An Existentialist Theology: A Comparison of Heidegger and Bultmann (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), p. 23.

Gunther Bornkamm, and James Robinson.^9 While they did not emphasize historical facts as the basis for faith, they did agree that, without such data, violence is done both to the apostolic kerygma(the kernel of their message) and to the present understanding of Jesus.^10

Although Bultmann never endorsed the search for a historical Jesus, he was perhaps affected by some of these critiques, and in his later years he admitted more historical knowledge about Jesus.^11 Christianity proclaimed a historical basis for its message. If an investigation reveals that such a basis exists, then these facts must have a more important function than Bultmann allowed.

2.Assumption of myth

Second, the major problem for Bultmann in terms of this study is that he dismissed the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection without any investigation at all. Rather than consider the evidence, he simply rejected it a priori. Again it is Macquarrie, himself an eminent commentator on Bultmann’s thought, who sharply criticizes him on this point: And here we must take Bultmann to task for what appears to be an entirely arbitrary dismissal of the possibility of understanding the resurrection as an objective-historical event . . . . The fallacy of such reasoning is obvious. The one valid way in which we can ascertain whether a certain event took place or not is not by bringing in some sweeping assumption to show that it could not have taken place, but to consider the historical evidence available, and decide on that.^12