‘Instead of a gospel preached by Jesus, Christians came to believe in a gospel about Jesus.’

‘Much of what the Gospels tell us about Jesus, his teaching, healings and other miracles, are not mentioned in Irenaeus’ rule of faith and would not be mentioned in later creeds either. Rudolf Bultmann claimed that in John’s gospel, ‘the Proclaimer became the Proclaimed’, in other words that Jesus went from being the one who spoke of the coming kingdom of God, and taught people how to live in its light, to being himself the content of the Christian proclamation. Instead of a gospel preached by Jesus, Christians came to believe in a gospel about Jesus. This development had certainly advanced even further by the time of Irenaeus (born 130 AD), whose rule of faith sees Jesus as the person the Christian message is about.’

~ John Barton A History of the Bible, p. 328

John Barton was Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford from 1991 to 2014 and since 1973 has been a serving priest in the Church of England. He is the author of numerous books on the Bible, co-editor of The Oxford Bible Commentary and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Interpretation.



Categories: Bible, Gospels, Jesus

6 replies

  1. Jesus Himself said that:

    the OT (TaNakh) is

    “about Me”

    Luke 24:25-27

    “the things concerning Me”

    Luke 24:44

    “the things concerning Me” are in all three parts of the T.aN.aKh:

    Laws of Moses, Psalms (poetry and wisdom literature) and Prophets

    Luke 24:44

    But Jesus has to open your minds to understand the Scriptures:

    Luke 24:45

    So Bultman and Barton are wrong.

    Modern writers like Ehrman, J. D. G. Dunn, James Barr and this James Barton are just Bultman and Schleirmacher and Frederick Bauer and Walter Bauer re-fried for the modern skeptic.

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    • Those quotes are after the ministry of Jesus at his alleged resurrection.

      John Barton is right: ‘Much of what the Gospels tell us about Jesus, his teaching, healings and other miracles, are not mentioned in Irenaeus’ rule of faith and would not be mentioned in later creeds either.’

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    • The problem is that we don’t have accounts of what Jesus said and did outside of ‘the faith view of the evangelists’ as the NT scholar Rudolf Schnakenberg said. The references to some other group that may or may not have the ‘true’ Gospel still falls into the same problem of anachronism especially when trying to repudiate another’s point of view (St Paul’s in particular).

      This is true for many other historical figures in the ancient world where myths and history often interlocked such as we can see with the Iliad and the Roman myths of the beginning of Rome and the death of Ceasar. In my opinion, being able to make historical claims with a certainty of any kind is possible as it pertains to history, but as Dr. Ehrman has said, it is based on probability.

      Liked by 1 person

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