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Rudolf Karl Bultmann Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: --
Date: Oct 1966

Biographical History

Rudolf Karl Bultmann (1884-1976) was a German dialectical theologian. Born in Germany in what was then the grand duchy of Oldenburg, he studied theology at the Universities of Tübingen, Berlin, and Marburg; at the latter he was influenced by systematic and liberal theologian Wilhelm Hermann and New Testament scholars Johannes Weiss and Wilhelm Heitmüller. He received his PhD from Marburg in 1910 and shortly thereafter began teaching, first at Breslau and then at Marburg where he was made a full professor and taught for thirty years. His colleagues there included Rudolph Otto, Martin Heidegger, Karl Barth and Friedrich Gogarten. His History of the Synoptic Tradition (1921) is still highly regarded as an essential tool for gospel research. Bultmann was a proponent of "form-criticism," an approach which attempted to discover historical roots of religious writings. Bultmann held that "[t]he aim of form-criticism is to determine the original form of a piece of narrative, a dominical saying or a parable. In the process we learn to distinguish secondary additions and forms, and these in turn lead to important results for the history of the tradition."

[Adapted from "Rudolf Karl Bultmann" in Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Modern Western Theology]

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Karl Bultmann Papers consists of correspondence, writings, memorabilia, printed material and miscellanea. Correspondence covers more than 50 years; notable correspondents include Albert Schweitzer, Gerhard Burgmann, Schubert Ogden, and Thomas C. Odun. Writings contains interviews, class lecture notes, essays, and books. Memorabilia includes articles about Bultmann, class notebooks, and material from Syracuse University. Published material contains two articles in German. Miscellaneous consists of a poster and audiorecordings (cassettes) from a Bultmann symposium,

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically; the exception is that of Albert Schweitzer, Gerhard Burgmann, Schubert Ogden, and Thomas C. Odun, which has been separated and arranged alphabetically at the beginning of the series. Writings are divided by types but are in no particular order. Memorabilia is alphabetical by type.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Bultmann, Rudolf, 1884-1976.
Schweitzer, Albert, 1875-1965.


Dialectical theology.
Theology -- History -- 20th century.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Rudolf Karl Bultmann Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents




Printed material