Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Sacred Theology (STM)


Systematic Theology

First Advisor

Arthur Piepkorn

Scripture References in this Resource

John 1:19-26; John 18:15-18, 25-27; John 7:53-8:11; John 20:30-31; John 20:11-18, 19-23, 26-27; Acts 1:3; John 21:1; John 20:28; John 19:35; John 20:8; John 21:4; John 19:35; John 1:9-13; John 21:23-24; John 1:49; Matthew 1:20-21; Mark 1:1; Luke 1:31-32; John 1:33; John 6:44, 63; John 1:10; John 14:17; John 15:21; John 16:3; John 2:4; John 4:10, 22; John 20:2, 14; John 8:14, 19, 27, 43, 55; John 9:29-30; John 10:16; John 19:9; John 4:32


The present study is an attempt to investigate, in the work of one of the theologians primarily responsible for the contemporary interest in hermeneutical problems, the role that the Law-Gospel Polarity plays in the process of hermeneutics. Gerhard Ebeling, a one-time student of Rudolf Bultmann whose work was first introduced to American theologians by James M. Robinson under the label, “The Hew Hermeneutic,” was chosen as the subject of this investigation because of the extensive use that he makes of the distinction between the Law and the Gospel, and because of his frequent appeals to, and his many studies in, the theology of Martin Luther. Since Ebeling claims to take his bearings from the theology of the Reformation, a study of his theology, and particularly the place of the Law-Gospel Polarity in that theology, seems most appropriate. Since Ebeling's introduction to American theologians in the early 1960’s, several studies of his works have appeared--both appreciative and critica1. He has been touted as the systematician of the Bultmann-school, as a linguistically-oriented theologian who builds on the ideas of the later Heidegger as Bultmann built his system on the earlier Heidegger, as one of the participants in the so-called "new quest for the historical Jesus"; yet rarely, if at all, is his concern with Luther's theology accorded more than a passing and occasionally almost embarrassed acknowledgement by his reviewers and critics. Since almost half of Ebeling's published works are specifically pieces of Luther research, and since references and appeals to Luther abound in his constructive works, it would seem that any adequate study of Ebeling's theology must take into account the role of his Luther-research in Ebeling's total theological activity. The present study, then, focuses on the role of the Law-Gospel Polarity in Ebeling's theology, first, to examine Ebeling's use of "Law and Gospel," and second, to make an initial attempt to compare Ebeling’s use with Luther's.