In the preliminary remarks for his Theology of the New Testament, Rudolf Bultmann lays out the premises undergirding his theological framework:

1. The message of Jesus is a presupposition for the theology of the New Testament rather than a part of that theology itself. For New Testament theology consists in the unfolding of those ideas by means of which Christian faith makes sure of its own object, basis and consequences.

2. The synoptic gospels are the source for Jesus’ message. Their use as history is governed by the so-called two source: i.e. Mark (which we know, however only in a later redaction) is one source of Matthew and Luke; the other is a collection of Jesus’ sayings (Q).

As much as conservatives want to make Bultmann into an archnemesis, the zeal to demolish his theological undertaking (or taking down, as some would argue) often results in hasty reductionistic thinking imposed on both the man and his works.  Sometimes even Bultmann needs a fair hearing at face value.

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