Christian theology emerged by way of a Kuhnian Paradigm Shift

Dirk Martin Grube*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper argues that, historically, Christianity emerges out of Judaism by way of a paradigm shift in Thomas Kuhn’s sense of the word and that this emergence has normative consequences regarding the legitimacy of Christianity. Paradigm shifts are characterized by observational anomalies (e.g. Röntgen rays) triggering particular kinds of theoretical modifications, e.g. meaning-changes of key terms, leading to a coherent re-disclosure of reality. The first Christians underwent such a paradigm shift: The anomalous experience that the dead Jesus has risen triggered theoretical modifications–the term ‘Messiah’ underwent a meaning-change–so that reality could be coherently re-disclosed as eschatological reality. If Christianity emerges by way of a paradigm shift, this shift should be the foundation of Christological theorizing: Rather than basing Christology on what the ‘historical Jesus’ did or said, the reconstruction of Jesus as the Christ in the context of this shift is foundational for Christology (in line with Rudolf Bultmann). The resurrection is crucial not as a historical fact but as an anomaly in this sense. Since they acquired their beliefs via a paradigm; shift, the first Christians were entitled to their ways of reading the Jewish Scriptures without, however, the Jews being disentitled to their ways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-193
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Philosophy and Theology
Issue number1-2
Early online date18 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2018


  • Christology
  • Gerhard Ebeling
  • historical Jesus
  • Ingolf Dalferth
  • Jewish/Christian relation
  • John Hick
  • Messiah
  • Paradigm shift
  • prophecy
  • resurrection
  • Rudolf Bultmann
  • Wolfhart Pannenberg


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