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Kerygma

  1. Paul Hartog

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0751

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Hartog, P. 2011. Kerygma. The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

Abstract

The Greek noun kerygma is a derivative of the verb kerusso, meaning “to preach or proclaim.” Attic Greek employed kerygma especially in relation to a herald or public crier; the word was used of either the act of announcing or the content of the message. The word kerygma appears eight times within the critical text of the Greek New Testament, where it still retains this notion of a public annunciation. For example, Luke 4:18–19 provides a paradigm of the public nature of kerusso. After reading from the prophet Isaiah, Jesus proclaimed to his listeners that his ministry would herald good news to the poor, blind, and captive. Early Christian preaching (such as is portrayed in the book of Acts) highlighted the fulfillment of God's promises in Jesus of Nazareth, the beneficent and miraculous ministry of Jesus, his crucifixion and resurrection, his exaltation and bestowal of the Spirit, his future restoration of all things, and a call for personal response. The interpretive context of this proclamation included moral accountability to the creator, human failure in sin, and coming divine judgment (Acts 14, 17). In the New Testament, the Christian kerygma appears in connection with the “gospel.” In a doxology at the end of Romans, the apostle Paul lauded God “who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the kerygma of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 16:25). According to Paul, God saves sinners through the foolishness of the kergyma, which centered upon “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 1:24; 2:4). Furthermore, according to 1 Corinthians 15:14, if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then the Christian kerygma was futile and vain. This kerygmatic emphasis upon the death and resurrection of Christ parallels Paul's delineation of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1–11. The Pastoral Epistles portray the kerygma as the foundation of faith and of the knowledge of the truth (Titus 1:1–4; cf. 2 Tim. 4:17). Later Christian theologians, such as Irenaeus, emphasized and defended the “apostolic kerygma” (Adversus haereses 1.10).

Keywords:

  • kerygma, “to preach or proclaim”;
  • early christian preaching;
  • fulfillment of God's promises;
  • kerygmatic, death and resurrection of christ