History and Eschatology charts the shift away from an ancient cyclical interpretation of history to teleological and eschatological alternatives. Bultmann explains the fundamental shift in historical understanding introduced in the Judeo-Christian tradition and explains why the disappointment faced by the early church in Christ’s belated return prompted a reinterpretation of history. This brought about a teleological understanding of history which was adopted by later Renaissance and secular traditions. Even Marxism continued to hold onto this teleological approach. Bultmann, drawing on Paul and John, challenges this purely teleological approach and recentres a Christian understanding of history and eschatology in the historical event of Christ which is both timeless and immediately present.
History and Eschatology
Bultmann introduces his subject by summarizing the changing philosophical interpretations of history and the order of the universe. He begins by charting the shift from an Old Testament understanding of humanity’s utter dependence on the divine through a change in the early and medieval church which embraced the existence of an ordered universe supported by God.