Off topic: Rise and persistence of Form criticism

From: Kenneth Litwak (
Date: Sun Oct 15 1995 - 23:53:35 EDT

    I'd like to pose a question which I hope won't be too inflamatory.
I spent the weekend reading about form criticism, both from Bultmann himself,
and from his critics, like Kelber. As I was reading Bultmann, he seemed to me
to be making a lot of assertions without evidence and special pleading and
basing a lot on hypothetical possibilities. It's not surprising others have
come along and criticized his approach.

  What I don't understand is why it became so popular in the first place, and
why, in light of all its criticisms, it still appears pervasive in NT studies,
with its assertins used as the basis for further work without any seeming
recognition of the challlenges to this methodology. I don't understand
this. I am confident it is not because I'm all wise and those who first
read Bultmann were incompetent. How then can we explain the ready acceptacne
Bultmann's ideas received and their continuing effect on NT studies?
Were they guided by their presuppositions to accept anything that seemed
to further their own research or am I missing something gained through
hindsight? Thanks.

Ken Litwak
Bezerkley, CA

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