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Fall 2000, pages 49-82

Vico and Bultmann on Myth: The Problem with Demythologizing

Abstract: Giambattista Vico (1668-1744), an early Enlightenment critic of Cartesianism, on one hand, demystifies the origin and nature of myths, while Buhmann (1884-1976), a late modernist theologian, on the other, engages in a full-blown program of demythologizing. Vico subjects myth to analysis and scrutiny, but finds lasting value in the big stories whereas Buhmann, informed by a developmental view of history and a positivistic epistemology, finds little of value in the Christian Myth, apart from an existential encounter with God. Vico sees a clear connection among the imagination, metaphor, myth and critical method, but Bultmann, uses formgeschichte (form criticism) to expurgate the NT of myth.
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