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Title: 'Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe'
Subtitle: Rudolf Bultmann's Interpretation of the 'Signs' in the Fourth Gospel
Author(s): VAN BELLE, Gilbert
Journal: Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses
Volume: 91    Issue: 3   Date: 2015   
Pages: 521-546
DOI: 10.2143/ETL.91.3.3105921

Abstract :
This valedictory lecture on 'Doubting Thomas' and the Lord’s beatitude in Jn 20,29b explores R. Bultmann’s opinion that 'strictly speaking, there is no place in the Fourth Gospel for resurrection stories, since the ascent or the exaltation has already taken place'. This opinion is etched into his commentary. With the reference to the 'signs' that Jesus performed in 20,30, Bultmann argues that the evangelist harks back to 'the whole activity of Jesus, in which the Easter narratives are included'. Further to this, the resurrection narratives have to be relativized, because we are reminded in 20,24-29 and in particular in 20,9, about the lesson taught in 4,48: faith in fact does not need miracles. This picture of Bultmann’s interpretation of the resurrection is completed and confirmed by analyzing how it is positioned in his reconstruction of the evangelist’s theology and in his own program of demythologization. Bultmann’s claim that two narratives, first the appearance to Mary Magdalene and second the appearance to Thomas, which both contain elements of critique and warn against any attempt to overestimate the significance of the resurrection narratives, is further explored with special reference to C.M. Tuckett (2013). Here, the relation between signs and faith is analyzed in 19,31-37 and 3,14-16. In the conclusion, it is proposed that a renewed reading of Bultmann’s interpretation of the signs serves as a good starting point for the discussion on the relationship between faith and reason.

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