Rudolf Karl Bultmann

Rudolf Karl Bultmann (1884 - 1976) was a German Lutheran theologian. He is well known for his "demythologizing" of the New Testament, and was influenced by the existentialism of Martin Heidegger. Educated at the universities of Tübingen, Berlin, and Marburg, Bultmann taught at the universities of Breslau and Giessen and from 1921 to 1950 was professor at the University of Marburg.

His two most influential works were the History of the Synoptic Tradition, published in 1921, in which he was one of four German Protestant Scripture scholars to introduce the form-criticism of the New Testament, and his 1941 essay on The New Testament and Mythology, in which he called for the "demythologizing" of the New Testament. In his program of "demythologizing," he called upon Christian scholars and preachers to bring the Gospel message honestly into conformity with what they now knew (from the results of historical criticism) was not historically true in the Gospels and, therefore, to adjust their Christian appeal to a new existentialist theology.

Selected publications

  • History of the Synoptic Tradition, Harper San Francisco, 1976, ISBN 0060611723 (seminal work on form criticism)
  • Jesus Christ and Mythology, Prentice Hall, 1997, ISBN 0023055707
  • The New Testament and Mythology and Other Basic Writings, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1984, ISBN 0800624424
  • Kerygma and Myth by Rudolf Bultmann and Five Critics (1953) London: S.P.C.K., HarperCollins 2000 edition: ISBN 0061300802, online edition (contains the essay "The New Testament and Mythology" with critical analyses and Bultmann's response)
  • The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Westminster John Knox Press, 1971, ISBN 0664208932
  • Theology of the New Testament: Complete in One Volume, Prentice Hall, 1970, ISBN 0023055804
  • Myth & Christianity: An Inquiry Into The Possibility Of Religion Without Myth, translation 1958 by Noonday Press, Prometheus Books, 2005, ISBN 1591022916. In this dialogue with philosopher Jaspers, Jaspers first makes the case that Christianity can not be understood apart from its mythical framework, and that myth is necessary form of communication through symbol. Bultman responds that modern scientific analysis of the text is required to separate the genuine from the miraculous claims, thereby revealing the true message.
  • History and Eschatology: The Presence of Eternity (1954–55 Gifford lectures), Harper, 1962, Greenwood Publishers, 1975: ISBN 0837181232


  • Walter. Schmithals, An Introduction to the Theology of Rudolf Bultmann, Augsburg Fortress Publishers (1968) ISBN 0806608161
  • Schubert M. Ogden, Christ Without Myth: A Study Based on the Theology of Rudolf Bultmann, SMU Press; Reprint edition (1991) ISBN 0870741721