In his recently translated biography of Rudolf Bultmann (originally published in German in 2009), Konrad Hammann largely accepts and presumes the modern Protestant theological story. It’s the German version of our “up from fundamentalism” narrative: Heroic theologians lead the Church out of complacent confessionalism and its equally complacent moralistic liberalism to an intellectually serious, existentially engaging modern faith.

Hammann, who teaches church history on the Protestant faculty of the University of Münster, does not give the reader much help in understanding the extent to which Bultmann’s scholarship and churchmanship was shaped by and contributed to that story, perhaps because he takes it to be so obvious. As a result, this finely detailed and comprehensive biography, rich in citations from Bultmann’s letters and other illuminating sources, leaves it to us to discern the larger achievement”and limitations”of the most important biblical theologian of the twentieth century.

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