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By Herman N. Ridderbos / P&R / 1960
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Rudolf Bultmann, professor of New Testament at the University of Marburg, became a center of controversy throughout the 1940s theological world. The cause of his widespread fame was not simply what he wrote over the years concerning various major New Testament origin problems; rather, it was especially due to the manner in which he tried to interpret the message of the New Testament for our generation.
Bultmann’s theology can be called an existentialistic approach to and exposition of the biblical message. The fact that Bultmann’s theology is determined completely by philosophical existentialistic conceptions of man, life, and the world explains to a large measure the great number of his adherents and also the sharp opposition to him. It is therefore meaningful that the nonprofessional theologian interest himself in this figure, for his theology is a typical phenomenon of the time. One thing is certain: Bultmann’s position signifies a renewal of the conflict between liberal and biblical thought, and must be taken seriously. Herman Ridderbos takes an in-depth look into Bultmann’s theology and doctrine and analyzes key ideas and concepts.
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Herman Ridderbos (1909–2007) was professor emeritus of New Testament at the Theological School of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands at Kampen, where he served for over 40 years. The author of many scholarly publications, Ridderbos was the editor of the Reformed Weekly (Kampen), one of the Netherlands’ leading ecclesiastical periodicals. He became well-known in America through his volume on Galatians in the New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament.