Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Well-known theological and philosophical scholar John Macquarrie attempts the daunting task of assessing the effectiveness and relevance of twentieth century existential thought in elucidating the New Testament for the modern world. He accepts Martin Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit (1927; Being and Time, 1962) as a representative statement of existential beliefs, with emphasis on human existence as a phenomenological fact without explanation or justification. Under this view, humans are free to accept their freedom of choice and their responsibility for those choices and live authentically, with attendant anxiety (existential angst) but with conscience prompting them to live as a microcosm of how the world should be, given no outside controls. Likewise, people are free to deny choice and live inauthentically by escaping to the world and avoiding thought and the overriding consciousness of death (nothingness), which paradoxically gives life its meaning and creates the urgency for authentic, complete, self-aware living.
Macquarrie effectively explains how this belief system underlies and informs Rudolf Bultmann’s Theologie des Neuen Testaments (1948-1953; Theology of the New Testament, 1951-1955) and insightfully elucidates the similarities between existential beliefs and New Testament teachings particularly as reflected in the writings of Saint Paul. Those significant similarities include the individual and experiential...
(The entire section is 1027 words.)
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