Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pericope for the Week: The Resurrection of the Lord

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

During this time in which the western Christian church celebrates the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus the Christ, I thought I would draw attention to a little-known study by the German Lutheran theologian, Walter Kuenneth (1901-1997): Theologie der Auferstehung, (Munich: Claudius Verlag, 1933; 2d ed., 1951; ET Theology of the Resurrection, trans. James W. Leitch [Alva, Scotland: SCM Press, 1965; St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1965--those were the years when CPH published some truly outstanding texts in modern Christian theology.])

Professor Kuenneth, who was the fourth child of a Lutheran pastor, studied theology at Erlangen, where he was especially influenced by the neo-Lutheran work of Philipp Bachmann, and at Tuebingen, where he attended lectures by Karl Heim and Adolf Schlatter. Professor Kuenneth was ordained in 1925 and served as a teacher of theology in Berlin and then at Erlangen, where he lived until his death. During the Hitler period he was a member of the Confessing Church and wrote several essays critical of Nazi ideology and its negative influence upon Christianity in Germany before and after the fateful year of 1933. When another great Erlanger, Werner Elert, died in 1954, Dr. Kuenneth assumed his chair of systematic theology. He taught at Erlangen until his retirement in 1969. He was particularly engaged in the controversy over Rudolf Bultmann's program of demythologizing, which Kuenneth thought emptied the gospel of its decisive content. In 1966 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa.

For a more complete online biography, see http://www.kirchenlexikon.de/k/kuenneth_w.shtml

This week's pericope comes from p. 164 ("Creation in its Relation to the Resurrection") in the ET of Dr. Kuenneth's study of the resurrection:

When resurrection and creation are related together we are very forcibly struck by the uniqueness of the fact of the resurrection, and of the Christology which is built upon it. The resurrection is the very heart of cosmic Christology. For this reason, in so far as the concept of creation cannot be properly developed save on Christological lines, the created world must be oriented towards the raising of Christ. This orientation of all creation towards the resurrection as its fulfillment determines the real fundamental character of creation and provides a Christian doctrine of creation with its deepest meaning. There can thus be no understanding of creation which is not shaped by the theology of the resurrection. In creation's orientation towards the resurrection there emerges anew the theocentric character of the resurrection event with its bearing on the whole cosmos. At the same time all that has already been said about pre-existence, incarnation, and the reciprocal relationship between the historic life of Jesus and the resurrection is hereby confirmed, summed up and clarified. Three distinct lines of thought will serve to prove the orientation of creation towards the resurrection. We must deal first with the incompleteness of the first creation; then we must clarify the concept of the "fallen" world. Finally we must show that the resurrection world is the fulfillment of creation.

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