- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Fortress Pr; Revised, Expanded, Subsequent edition (November 1, 1988)
- Language: English, German
- ISBN-10: 0800632060
- ISBN-13: 978-0800632069
- Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,204,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The So-Called Historical Jesus and the Historic Biblical Christ (Fortress Texts in Modern Theology) (English and German Edition) Paperback – November 1, 1988
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In his Introductory Remarks, he states, “The old but ever-new question … is still very much alive in our own time: ‘What do you think of the Christ?’ [Mt 22:42] This question is seldom coolly dismissed… My theme is a paradox. It places in opposition two statements which might seem to be saying exactly the same thing… I wish to summarize my cry of warning in a form intentionally audacious: the historical Jesus of modern authors conceals from us the living Christ. The Jesus of the ‘Life-of-Jesus movement’ is merely a modern example of human creativity, and not an iota better than the notorious dogmatic Christ of Byzantine Christology. One is as far removed from the real Christ as the other.” (Pg. 42-43)
He asserts, “I regard the entire Life-of-Jesus movement as a blind alley… The Life-of-Jesus movement is completely in the right insofar as it set the Bible against an abstract dogmatism. It becomes illegitimate as soon as it begins to rend and dissect the Bible without having acquired a clear understanding of the special nature of the problem and the peculiar significance of Scripture for such understanding… Hence a person may immerse himself in Jesus’ actions… So he plumbs the depths of Jesus’ consciousness… from his mother’s bosom to his father’s workshop and into the synagogue---and then he is most certainly heading up a blind alley! For the cardinal virtue of genuine historical research is modesty.” (Pg. 46-47)
He observes, “Why, in the final analysis, do we commune with the Jesus of our Gospels? What does he offer us? … Do I really need to know more of him than what Paul delivered to [the Corinthians] as of first importance, that [he] also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared…? … This is the witness and confession of faith which has overcome the world… If I have this I do not need additional information on the precise details of Jesus life and death.” (Pg. 59-60)
But he adds, “Then why the Gospels?... the reason we commune with the Jesus of our Gospels is because it is through them that we learn to know the same Jesus whom… we meet at the right hand of God… he who once walked on earth and is now is exalted … because he is for us God revealed.” (Pg. 60-61)
He explains, “my arguments deal only with those theologians who wish to write a ‘Life of Jesus’ in the service of the confession of Christ, and who think… that their work can do more to strengthen this confession than can dogmatics. I am concerned with a correct evaluation of what the constructive historical method can accomplish, particularly what it can contribute toward the right attitude toward Christ within the Church, the bearer of the gospel.” (Pg. 69)
He suggests, “It is true that at first glance there seems to be a great disparity between the accounts in the Gospels and the ‘dogmatic’ statements about Christ in the Epistles. Yet they are more closely related than at first appears. The Fourth Gospel is an obvious link between the Synoptics and the Epistles…. If, however, we take our Gospels just as they stand, then we find in them the same ‘dogmatic’ character as we find, for example, in the messianic sermons in the book of Acts… For this very reason, until the modern era the church never sensed any disparity between the historical presentation and the dogmatic preaching in the New Testament.” (Pg. 82-83)
He states, “We want to make absolutely clear that ultimately we believe in Christ, not on account of any authority, but because he himself evokes such faith from us. This thought that ‘Christ himself is the originator of the biblical picture of Christ’ is implicit in what was said earlier… If now, with the recognition given to their differences, the first eyewitnesses were nevertheless in agreement on the picture of Christ which they handed down… then this picture must have been impressed upon their hearts and minds with an incomparable and indelible preciseness rich in content. They themselves tell us this, and later their lives became powerful proof of how completely Christ had filled their minds and hearts.” (Pg. 87-88)
He notes, “the relation of believing Christians to the Bible suffers greatly from an unhealthy frustration. It is this diseased condition in the life of our church that concerns me. The heart of the present controversy is the question of the correctness of the historical and particularly the literary-historical details in the Bible. Yet I am not really worried about the historicity of the events of salvation, nor am I too lazy to go into detail in refuting hypercriticism. Nevertheless, I will not take up my pen for this purpose as long as the present controversy---‘our controversy concerning the Bible’---continues… the arguments and counterarguments … are never conclusive… Even though we cannot agree with the proponents of verbal inspiration but must seek another way of expressing the unchanging relation of Christianity to the Bible, still the decisive issue is not settled by the controversy that rages to and from concerning historical details.” (Pg. 114-115)
He concludes, “As I said before, however, criticism is not my main intention; my purpose in writing is, rather, to set forth the following exposition, which is not merely negative but also affirmative. For my real concern is, after all, the ‘biblical Christ’---and not an ideal Christ nor a Christ of dogma… I deny that the purpose of the Gospels is to serve as documents for a scientifically reconstructed biography of Jesus. They have not posited such a purpose for themselves, nor may the church or theology force upon them as their essential purpose. Their purpose is to awaken faith in Jesus through a clear proclamation of his saving activity. When measured by this purpose I regard them as completely perfect…” (Pg. 126-127)
He adds, “a freedom of movement has been created which enables us to meet the deniers of revelation halfway in order to introduce them wherever possible to the focal point of revelation, and thence to the fulness of historical revelation as well. But this freedom of movement would of course offer little hope of success if it did not proceed from a firm starting point, namely, from a sense of confidence in the normative, unchangeable content of the church’s teaching, namely, in the Bible as a whole; this is a starting point at once historically unassailable, grounded in faith, and independent of scientific scholarship, however much it is the task of scholarship to circumscribe this starting point.” (Pg. 147-148)
Kahler's book is of more interest for Christian THEOLOGY, rather than for those interested in the "historical Jesus."