The New Testament often claims to be based on historically accurate accounts.^7 Paul reminds us that, apart from a historical Gospel, there is no basis for faith whatsoever, since it would be vain and groundless (1 Cor. 15:1–20). The point here is that, without a historical core of knowledge concerning Jesus, Christianity would have little initial impetus to encourage faith in an otherwise unknown person.

This criticism was probably the single most influential contribution to the dissatisfaction with Bultmann’s thought. John Macquarrie, while supporting Bultmann in a number of areas, takes issue with him here: It is very doubtful whether the Christian faith could have been built upon the foundation of a historic Jesus who, as Bultmann presents him, was little more than a teacher of a practical philosophy with certain resemblances to existentialism, and who is stripped of the numinous characteristics which the Gospels attribute to him.^8