At 04:50 AM 1/1/2005, Loren Rosson wrote:
>I have a little time this morning before I leave town,
>so I'll try to address some more of your concerns.
Thanks for taking the time, and Happy New Year!
> > >"'What can historical Jesus research do for us?'
> > Well,
> > >maybe this will surprise everyone, but my view is:
> > >very little. ...
> > What precisely in this is "the only appropriate
> > approach, as far as I can tell, in doing
> > justice to any historical figure"? ...
>All I am saying is that the only appropriate approach
>to the study of any historical figure is to
>acknowledge that he/she can only do so much for us;
>can only offer so much inspiration until we must look
>elsewhere -- that is, as Dale says, to other
>historical figures, ethicists, philosophers, poets,
>novelists, etc. And I'm encouraged that a sincere
>Christian like Dale is comfortable going with this in
>the case of Jesus.
Well, it gets us off-topic a little here, but to call oneself a Christian
implies priorities, and to reduce Jesus to the level of other "historical
figures, ethicists, philosophers, poets, novelists, etc." seems to rater
reduce the priority level. At that point, why call oneself a Christian?
> > >And the "facts"
> > >aren't too obscure, Bob. Jesus, by all indications,
> > >was a mistaken apocalyptic.
> > That label is "facts"? Excuse me. At best, its a
> > reasonable hypothesis.
>No, I'm comfortable with calling this "factual".
Well, the "facts" are in dispute.
>Ed Sanders has made lists of what he considers to be
>"undisputable facts" (see Jesus and Judaism, and
>Historical Figure of Jesus). If I were to make such a
>list, I would include the statement, "Jesus was an
But that's you, not Ed.
>That he was mistaken follows
>obviously. You may disagree with this -- just as many
>disagree with various items on Sanders' lists -- but
>that won't stop me (nor should it) from claiming this
>to be the case.
I can't stop you from making any claim, no matter how mistaken! <g>
Actually, however, I will only dispute the implication that he was
*totally* mistaken. I will grant that in the received tradition, he appears
to be mistaken about some aspects of timing or other details. To be
otherwise, he would not be human, would he? <g>
>Presumably you have you own tally of
>items you're comfortable with accepting as factual....
Well, yes, but the list is not long. On the other hand, there are lots of
things that I'd consider "likely".
I think you're abusing the word "fact", and since you're a librarian, this
> > >If we can't be sure of this, then the gospels
You mean the synoptic gospels, don't you, since that's what your case is
> > >are indeed almost entirely
> > >worthless, and (as Dale says) we're out of luck. That
> > >of course is a **possible** scenario, but not a
> > >plausible one -- ...
> > What I meant by "disingenuous" (perhaps the wrong
> > word) is that if there
> > really isn't any significant difference between
> > *his* "historical Jesus"
> > and "the Bible", why does he pretend to be a
> > critical scholar? ...
>All I can say is this: If you beleve the likes of
>Allison, Sanders, Fredriksen, and Ehrman are
>uncritical -- or merely have pretensions to be
>critical -- because their diligent and carefully
>considered reconstructions of Jesus are **close
>relatives** (not Christological copies) of the
>synoptic Jesus, then you and I live in different
I believe that there is an unhealthy emphasis on the Synoptics to the
detriment of other sources, as Stevan Davies pointed out today. I respect
the authors you cited. One of our issues is how close is the relative. It
seems to me a bit curious that these relatives are so close, but yet not
"Christological copies." Furthermore, if you examine all of the "critical"
scholarship characterizations of Jesus, they scarcely seem to be talking
about the same guy. In some ways they seem more like orphans than close
relatives, but perhaps that's going too far.
>... Regardless of how
>accurate our reconstructions of the historical Jesus
>are, everyone (including himself) engages in
>"reinterpreting" that historical figure for
>contemporary meaning. So Christianity is hardly in any
>danger of being discredited here (as you were suggesting).
If we are left only with the "Jesus of contemporary meaning", then the
historical Jesus is indeed lost to us, and Christianity has lost its
mooring. I agree that every generation must understand the relevance of
Jesus to its own issues, but I would like to think that those
understandings are built on solid historical footing, and I think that is
foundational for traditional Christian theology.
>But Dale does believe (as do I) that we should be
>acknowledging the chasm between us and Jesus before
"Chasm" implies unbridgeable, doesn't it?
>Whether reinterpreting Jesus in the
>interests of Christian belief (Dale) or in so far as
>he engages secular modernity and provokes thought
>(me), allow the man his flaws and glaring errors. Thus
>the distinction between revisionism (which is bad) and
>reinterpretation (which is natural and inevitable).
>This may or may not clarify things; it may or may not
>satisfy you. Probably not. But in any case -- Happy
>Loren Rosson III
>"In the natural sciences a person is remembered for his best idea; in the
>social sciences he is remembered for his worst."
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