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Kerygmatic Theology

  1. B. Scott Lewis

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0752

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Lewis, B. S. 2011. Kerygmatic Theology. The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


The descriptive term “kerygmatic” comes from the Greek word kerygma, meaning to preach or proclaim. The term is frequently used by kerygmatic theologians (e.g. Rudolf Bultmann, Karl Barth) to describe the act of preaching that calls for an existential faith in the meaning of Jesus. The term kerygma was used by theologians to denote the content of apostolic preaching which consisted of historical facts about Jesus' life and ministry (e.g. death, burial, resurrection, and ascension) for understanding the meaning Jesus (e.g. C. H. Dodd). According to kerymatic theologians, when the content of the primitive kerygma is preached today (i.e. Jesus' death and resurrection) it is understood that God calls upon hearers to believe in God's act in Christ, so that hearers recognize their judgment of sin and receive grace in the present. In other words, this “proclaimed word” is an existential encounter with Jesus where the saving event of God — as described in the historical content of the kerygma — reoccurs in the proclaiming act in the present. Although less concerned with the historical sources for understanding the meaning of Jesus, kerygmatic theologians understand the proclaiming act to be God calling upon unbelievers to encounter the meaning of Jesus in an existential manner. This kerygmatic theology as articulated by Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, and others became a unified theological position during the 20th century.


  • kerygmatic theology, to preach or proclaim;
  • kerygmatic theologians;
  • content of apostolic preaching;
  • Jesus' death and resurrection