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Jesus and the minjung revisited: The Legacy of Ahn Byung-Mu (1922-1996)

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Ahn Byung-Mu was not only one of the leading theological thinkers of 20th century Korea, a mediator between Western, especially German theological tradition and Korean Christianity, but also a persistent regime critique under South Korea's development dictatorship of the 1970s and 80s. Originally a New Testament scholar he also became one of the founding fathers of minjung theology by giving this political theology in the Korean context a biblical foundation. In his studies on the Gospel of Mark, Ahn advocates the thesis that German historical-critical exegesis viewed the Markan ochlos from the perspective of form criticism as a dramatic element similar to the “antique choir”, thereby failing to acknowledge its social and theological significance. In contrast, he emphasizes Jesus' unconditional commitment to the ochlos, which is displayed in the Gospel of Mark. The Galilean ochlos, an amorphous, and in its membership varying group of people from the Galilean lower class, is the addressee of Jesus' mission. The article reconstructs Ahn Byung Mu's theological way of thinking and tackles the question how his legacy can be re-contextualized.

Affiliations: 1: Protestant Theological University, Kampen, The Netherlands


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