Title page for ETD etd-05262005-083524

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Schutte, Philippus Jacobus Wilhelmus
Email pjwschutte@telkomsa.net
URN etd-05262005-083524
Document Title Jesus - a Kerygma to live by - A postmodern understanding of myth, resurrection and canon
Degree DD (New Testament)
Department New Testament Studies
Advisor Name Title
Prof A G van Aarde
  • appearance narratives
  • autobiography
  • canon
  • Christ cult
  • demystification
  • deconstruction
  • empty tomb
  • mythology
  • myth
  • canonization
  • decanonization
  • foundational myth
  • postmodernity
  • resurrection
  • hermeneutics of suspicion
Date 2004-10-09
Availability unrestricted
This study is done from an autobiographical perspective. It focuses on three issues: myths, the resurrection of Jesus from death, and the canon. It approaches the traditional ecclesiastical and confessional teachings from the perspective of a postmodern hermeneutics of suspicion.

Being autobiographical, the study is in the first place relevant for its author. In the second place, because he is a researcher, the study has also relevance for the scholarly community. The faith community also asks their questions. Then there is the institutionalized church that is a watchdog for the dogma, and, lastly there is the secular community who is also interested in the debate.

The study aims to find answers to the question how the myth of Easter faith developed into kerygma, which became a text with canonical status? It is a search for the relationship between myth, resurrection and canon.

On the issue of myth, the study concludes that myth is just as important to postmoderns as it were to their pre-modern ancestors. The Christ myth is a first century Mediterranean version of an ancient inherited subconscious archetypal myth. It represents stories in the language, symbols, and metaphors of the cultures and peoples in which it originated. It is language recycled.

On the question about the resurrection, the study concludes that the Christ cult and its narratives developed within a mythological worldview. First, there was the kerygma of a dying and resurrected Christ. Then narratives, as material for preaching in the early congregations emerged around the figure of the historical Jesus. The resurrection as the content of the kerygma is perceived as mythical speech that serves as the foundational myth for the Christ cult. The third issue was about the documents called canon and questions such as how did it emerge, and how did it become authority bearing?

To recap the argument: In the beginning, there was the kerygma! The content of this kerygma was the death and resurrection of Christ. During the development stages of the Christ myth, this kerygma was linked to the life and death of the historical Jesus. His story became a mythical narrative that serves as the foundational myth for the Christ cult. It explains its reason for existence and its rituals. As this faith community grew and became more and more institutionalized it produced more and more literature. Orthodoxy in early Christianity decided which of these writings contain the truth and the right teaching. They are the books, which became the index of what is called the Christian Bible today.

The author of this study believes in a canon behind the canon. For him, the Jesus figure is the “vehicle” that makes the content of the kerygma accessible. He is a mythological figure, with historical roots that has become the observable face of God to Christians. The New Testament represents kerygmatic narrative with an invitation to its readers and hearers to join in this mythological experience and encounter with God.

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