cullmann, christ and time the primitive christian conception of time

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Third edition, revised by the author in 1962, with a new introductory chapter in which he replies to his critics scM: cheap edition OSCAR CULLMANN CHRIST AND TIME The Primitive Christian Conception cif Time and History Revised edition ( 1962) with a new introductory chapter Translated from the German by FLOYD V. FILSON SCM PRESS LTD BLOOMSBURY STREET LONDON The original edition of this book was published in German in 1946 under the title Christus und die Zeit by Evangelischer Verlag A.G., Zollikon-Zurich, Switzerland First published in Great Britain, February 1951 Reprinted February 1952 Reprinted June 1957 Revised edition April 1962 Printed in Great Britain by Bradford & Dickens, London, W.C.1 '\ I To the University of Lausanne and Especially to Its Theological Faculty in Gratitude for the Conferring of an Honorary Doctorate "Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today, and forever." -HEB. 13:8. ) TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE PROFESSOR CULLMANN's book on CHRIST AND TIME is undoubt-edly one of the most significant theological works that Europe has produced within the last decade. The vigorous discussion which its publication has evoked makes it clear that the au-thor has dealt in a scholarly and vital way with a central issue of Biblical study and Christian theology. It is not surprising that a second German edition has been needed. The book has also appeared in French, and translations into other European languages are in process. This volume is significant not only for its challenging pres-entation of Professor Cullmann's own position, but also be-cause it carries on a spirited and informative debate with several leading European scholars whose works are not avail-able to the English-speaking reader. The author sharpens the issues between himself and such noted scholars as Rudolf Bult-mann, Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, and Martin Werner, who is now the leading advocate of the " consistent eschatology " po-sition to which Albert Schweitzer gave such prominence. The reader of CHRIST AND TIME thus gains an insight into trends that have marked the last ten years of Biblical study and theo-logical discussion in Europe. The author has kindly read the translation and made a number of discerning suggestions. He assures me that I have rendered his thought faithfully; upon me, however, rests the Vlll TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE responsibility for any limitations in English style. I am grate-ful to him for his personal courtesy as well as for the vigor and originality of his book. McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, january w, I949 FLOYD v . .FILSON. Translator's Preface F o r e ~ r d CONTENTS _!gJ:eWord to the Second Edition Introductory Chapter to the Third Edition INTRODUCTION The Problem 1. " Biblical History " and History 2. Biblical History and Theology PART I THE CoNTINuous REDEMPTIVE LINE 1. The Significance of the New Testament Termi-Vll Xl XV xvn nology for Time 37 2. The Linear Conception of Time in the Revela-tory History of the Bible as Contrasted with the Cyclical Conception of Hellenism 51 3 Time and Eternity 61 4 God's Lordship Over Time 6g 5 The New Division of Time from the Central Point of the Redemptive History 81 6. The Connection Between History and Prophecy (History and Myth) 94 7 The Redemptive Line as Christ-Line. The Man-ner of Presenting It 107 8. The Double Movement of the Redemptive Line According to the Principle of Representation 115 PART II THE UNIQUE CHARACTER OF THE REDEMPTIVE EPOCHS 1. The Unique Character of the Christ-Deed at the the Mid-point 121 X CONTENTS 2. The Past Stages of Redemptive History and Their Relation to the Christ-Event at the Mid-point 131 3 The Future Stages of Redemptive History and Their Relation to the Christ-Event at the Mid-point 139 4 The Present Stage of Redemptive History and Its Relation to the Christ-Event at the Mid-point 144 PART III REDEMPTIVE HISTORY AND THE GENERAL COURSE OF WORLD EVENTS 1. Redemptive History and Christian Universalism 177 2. The Complete Lordship of Christ and the Re-demptive Process 185 3 The Subjection of the Invisible Powers and Their Relation in Redemptive History to the World Process (State and Redemptive History) 191 4 The Question of World Affirmation or \Vorld Denial in the Light of the New Testament Re-demptive History 21 1 PART IV REDEMPTIVE HISTORY AND THE INDIVIDUAL MAN 1. The Individual Man and the Past Stage of Re-demptive History (Faith and Election) 217 2. The Individual Man and the Present Stage of Redemptive History (The Gift of the Spirit and the Commandment of God) 222 3 The Individual Man and the Future Stage of Re-demptive History (Resurrection Faith and Resur-rection Hope) 231 INDEXES Index of Scripture References 245 Index of Authors 251 / FOREWORD THE OBJECT of the present work is to determine what is cen-tral in the Christian proclamation. We are tempted to repre-sent as the "kernel" or "essence" of this proclamation that which appeals to us personally, and to consider as external and dispensable "framework" that which is strange to us. It is due to the richness of the Christian message that the question as to the central element from which all the other features are to be explained arises at all, and the endeavor to determine this central element must be designated the one great task of New Testament scholarship, and perhaps of all Christian the-ology. Primarily this is a problem of historical theology, but the answer to it is of the greatest importance for the theologian. It is quite clear that the above-mentioned subjective attitude, even when it is ever so unconscious, must be rejected as en-tirely unfitted to solve the problem. For on no account can the criterion by which to determine the essential Christian kernel be any previously established position, for example, a philo-sophical standpoint. It is amazing to see with what naive un-concern this or that feature of the original Christian message is all too often arbitrarily selected and regarded as central, in accordance with a standard which obviously is brought to the New Testament from the outside, whereas for the Primitive Church this feature is indeed present, but instead of really standing in the center is itself to be explained by reference to xii CHRIST AND TIME another feature which is the true center. If the representatives of the various Christian groups, and perhaps even the oppo-nents of the Christian faith, would for once agree that in de-termining the essential Christian kernel th.ey would make an honest effort to renounce all standards derived from any other source than the most ancient Christian writings themselves, they would alFeady by this conscious effort have made a great advance toward a fruitful discussion. To this task, which is so urgent for the understanding of the Christian faith, the present work seeks to make a contribution. At the outset, therefore, I should like to request all its readers that in reading they first of all put aside completely the ques-tion which, understandably enough, lies close at hand, whether a New Testament statement can be an important part of the Christian message if it contradicts this or that philosophical conception of whose correctness we are convinced. The entire interest should rather be concentrated upon another question: In what does the specifically Christian element of the New Testament revelation consist? That is to say, precisely what is there which it does not have in common with philosophical or religious systems? Three very different publications of recent years have helped me to sharpen my understanding of the central New Testa-ment teaching. Each of them represents a clear point of view: Martin Werner's Die Entstehung des christlichen Dogmas (The Origin of Christian Doctrine), 1941; Rudolf Bultmann's Of-fenbarung und Heilsgeschehen (Revelation and Redemptive Event), 1941; and final.ly Karl Barth's Kirchliche Dogmatik (The Theology of the Church), 1939 ff. From my critical de-bate with them the reader will confirm the fact that I have learned from all three, though to be sure in quite different ways. To Martin Werner's conception of the place of escha-tology in the Primitive Christian proclamation I stand in di-rect contradiction, in spite of all my recognition of the ele-ments of truth contained in the fundamental position which FOREWORD Xlll he and Albert Schweitzer hold. With Rudolf Bultmann I am in agreement, from the standpoint of form criticism, in recog-nizing the necessity of grasping the theological meaning of the redemptive history from its presentation as a whole; but I consider it impossible to regard the fact of a development in time as only a framework, of which we must strip the account in order to get at the kernel (" de-mythologizing " or " myth-removal"). My criticism of Karl Barth rests upon a more posi-tive basis. I see that I am united with him in recognizing that strictly Christocentric character of New Testament theology to which he in his Dogmatik gives so powerful an expression. When I here demonstrate that h