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Journal for the History of Modern Theology/Zeitschrift für Neuere Theologiegeschichte

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Wilhelm Bousset, a leading member of the religionsgeschichtliche school and author of a seminal work on early Christology, Kyrios Christos, is typically regarded by reviewers of his work as a classic nineteenth-century liberal who sought a secure foundation for faith in the historical Jesus. However, this view of Bousset fails to appreciate the significant development of his theological perspective on the relationship between faith and history, a perspective that underwent a profound shift due to the influence of the English historian Thomas Carlyle and the Kantian philosopher Jakob Friedrich Fries. It is the influence of these two figures that enables Bousset to justify a full-scale flight from history and to seek faith’s foundation elsewhere, in the poetic symbol of Jesus Christ. The resulting solution to the problem of faith and history represents a unique and compelling alternative to the solutions of the leading theologians and New Testament scholars of the early twentieth century.


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