Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Pope and Rudolf Bultmann

This has been circulating around the web. Thought that I should share it too. To get the joke, you have to know a bit about the theologian mentioned.

Bultmann's famous work was on the 'demythologization' of the Bible. That means he assumed that the Bible contains many fictional stories. The fact that these stories are fiction should not affect the faith because, to Bultmann, the commitment to Christianity is primarily existential. Bultmann remained a committed Lutheran theologian all his life.

Here's the joke:
One day the Pope received a phone call from an archaeologist in Palestine.

"Holy Father," the archaeologist said, "I'm not sure how should I say this... don't know if it's fortunate or not that we have discovered what prove beyond doubt to be the very bones of Jesus!"

Hanging up, the Pope immediately sought consultation with his closest Cardinals. After revealing the situation, he asked them for suggestion. One Cardinal spoke up, "Holy Father, I believe there is someone who might be able to help. His name is Rudolf Bultmann."

With haste, the Pope called Bultmann's office at Marburg University. "Hi Bultmann, I'm afraid we have quite a problem here, and we hope perhaps you can advise us. Archaeologists in the Holy Land have discovered the bones of our Lord Jesus!"

After a moment of silence, Bultmann replied with astonishment: "What... he lived?!"


Martin Yee said...

Rudolf Bultmann is not acknowledged as a theologian among us Lutherans in general. We do not even refer to and read his works. I am not too sure he is actually a Lutheran even. Just for your info.

Sze Zeng said...

Thank you, Martin. It is good to hear from a Lutheran about Bultmann. The impression that I get is that he was a well-known Lutheran preacher. At times, I do wonder how did his congregation accept his teaching and preaching. Perhaps the life in Germany in first half of the 20th century with the two world wars as background, provides the demand for Bultmann's existential approach to the faith.