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Re: [XTalk] Historical Jesus Theories

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  • The Paulsen Family
    Hi, while I haven t had time to read your summaries yet, this looks like it will be a good resource for people who are interested in HJ research and want a
    Message 1 of 12 , Jun 12, 2002
      Hi, while I haven't had time to read your summaries yet, this looks like it
      will be a good resource for people who are interested in HJ research and
      want a quick overview of the opinions being proffered.

      Have you considered including Ben Witherington (Jesus as sage)?

      Patrick Paulsen
      Toronto Ontario

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Peter Kirby" <kirby@...>
      To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Wednesday, June 12, 2002 11:16 PM
      Subject: [XTalk] Historical Jesus Theories


      > "You can't tell your scholars without a program!"
      >
      > I have finally come to a completion of the task that I set out to fulfill
      some
      > time ago of providing a guide to contemporary theories on the historical
      Jesus
      > and the birth of Christianity. That effort in its current revision can be
      found
      > here:
      >
      > http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html
      >
      > However, I do not believe that my project as it stands is final, and I
      would
      > like to know of how to improve it. I ask for comments in a few areas
      > specifically.
      >
      > 1. Is there any scholar who writes on the historical Jesus who I should
      include
      > in my survey who is not already included in the current two dozen?
      >
      > 2. Is there any scholar that I have misrepresented in some way in what I
      say
      > about their theories? Who and in what way?
      >
      > 3. Is there any scholar that I do not present fully in leaving out an
      important
      > point? Who and on what point?
      >
      > 4. Does my presentation reveal any distorting bias on my own part? How
      so?
      >
      > And I would welcome any other comments and criticisms along the same vein.
      > Please hold my work to the highest standard, as I realize that the few
      words I
      > say on each scholar will be the only exposure that a large public will
      have to
      > their views.
      >
      > best,
      > Peter Kirby
      >
      >
      >
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    • LeeEdgarTyler@aol.com
      In a message dated 6/12/2002 10:19:15 PM Central Daylight Time, ... Hello Peter, Well, done! I would suggest adding Morton Smith and *Jesus the Magician,*
      Message 2 of 12 , Jun 13, 2002
        In a message dated 6/12/2002 10:19:15 PM Central Daylight Time,
        kirby@... writes:


        >
        > 1. Is there any scholar who writes on the historical Jesus who I should
        > include
        > in my survey who is not already included in the current two dozen?
        >
        >

        Hello Peter,

        Well, done! I would suggest adding Morton Smith and *Jesus the Magician,*
        which is one of the few true comparatist looks at the subject.

        Ed Tyler

        http://hometown.aol.com/leeedgartyler/myhomepage/index.html


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Bob Schacht
        ... Certainly. Dale Allison s Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet (1998) certainly belongs in the Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet group. It seems odd that you
        Message 3 of 12 , Jun 14, 2002
          At 08:16 PM 6/12/2002 -0700, Peter Kirby wrote:
          >"You can't tell your scholars without a program!"
          >
          >I have finally come to a completion of the task that I set out to fulfill some
          >time ago of providing a guide to contemporary theories on the historical Jesus
          >and the birth of Christianity. That effort in its current revision can be
          >found
          >here:
          >
          ><http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html>http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html
          >
          >However, I do not believe that my project as it stands is final, and I would
          >like to know of how to improve it. I ask for comments in a few areas
          >specifically.
          >
          >1. Is there any scholar who writes on the historical Jesus who I should
          >include
          >in my survey who is not already included in the current two dozen?

          Certainly. Dale Allison's Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet (1998)
          certainly belongs in the Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet group.

          It seems odd that you have no category for Jesus the Teacher. Is this some
          sort of commentary on the state of contemporary scholarship? I suppose you
          could create such a category and put Chilton's Rabbi Jesus in it. But what
          about a work like Norman Perrin's Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus
          (1976)? Its more focused on the teaching than on Jesus, but there is a
          lengthy last chapter on The Significance of the Knowledge of the Historical
          Jesus and his Teaching (pp. 207-248). Are there no other attempts to depict
          Jesus as Teacher?

          Also Raymond Brown's Birth of the Messiah and Death of the Messiah belong
          on your list somewhere. Some might claim that these have little to do with
          the historical Jesus, but what is more historical than birth and death?
          Also, his book on the Gospel of John provide a vehicle for his views on
          what came between birth and death.

          Also I'm wondering about your category Jesus the Savior rather than Jesus
          the Messiah. Is there any significance in your choice of Savior over
          Messiah, which would be the more historically relevant term? Or is this a
          kind of subtle commentary on the authors within the category? This would
          seem to be the category for Raymond Brown, whether Savior or Messiah.


          >2. Is there any scholar that I have misrepresented in some way in what I say
          >about their theories? Who and in what way?
          >
          >3. Is there any scholar that I do not present fully in leaving out an
          >important
          >point? Who and on what point?
          >
          >4. Does my presentation reveal any distorting bias on my own part? How so?
          >
          >And I would welcome any other comments and criticisms along the same vein.
          >Please hold my work to the highest standard, as I realize that the few words I
          >say on each scholar will be the only exposure that a large public will have to
          >their views.
          >
          >best,
          >Peter Kirby


          Thanks for your website on this. Are you only intending to cover modern
          scholarship? Hence, no Schweitzer, no Bultmann?
          Bob


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • brmcc2000
          Bob, ... vehicle for his views on ... Here is one item that belongs between birth and death and that, despite the fact that Brown was not an historian,
          Message 4 of 12 , Jun 14, 2002
            Bob,

            You wrote:

            > Also, his [Raymond Brown's] book on the Gospel of John provide a
            vehicle for his views on
            > what came between birth and death.

            Here is one item that belongs "between birth and death" and that,
            despite the fact that Brown was not an historian, points to a
            question of which many HJ scholars seem curiously unaware:

            "We say only that John's picture wherein Jesus remains a long period
            in the Jerusalem area between Tabernacles and the following Passover
            may well be more accurate than the crowded Synoptic picture where he
            seems to arrive in Jerusalem a few days before his death." I, p.309.

            This was published in 1966. How many of the HJ scholars who have
            written since have shown any awareness of the question? It looks as
            if, on this one point, quite a few self-consciously 'critical
            scholars' have a blind spot, and have not escaped what Marcus Borg
            some years ago called "natural literalism" in their reading of Mark.

            Brian McCarthy
            Madison WI
          • Loren Rosson
            ... Bob, I d say these definitely don t belong on Peter s list. Raymond Brown once insisted (in an interview) that he was not an HJ scholar, and that his
            Message 5 of 12 , Jun 15, 2002
              Bob Schacht wrote:

              > Also Raymond Brown's Birth of the Messiah
              > and Death of the Messiah belong
              > on your list somewhere. Some might claim that these
              > have little to do with
              > the historical Jesus, but what is more historical
              > than birth and death?

              Bob, I'd say these definitely don't belong on Peter's
              list. Raymond Brown once insisted (in an interview)
              that he was not an HJ scholar, and that his
              commentaries on the infancy and passion narratives do
              not pertain to this field of study -- even if they
              occasionally address what may or may not have
              "actually happened".

              Loren Rosson III
              Nashua NH
              rossoiii@...

              __________________________________________________
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              Yahoo! - Official partner of 2002 FIFA World Cup
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            • Bob Schacht
              ... Loren, I d have to say that I disagree with you (and with Brown himself!), for the following reasons: * He certainly is a Biblical Scholar, using (many?
              Message 6 of 12 , Jun 15, 2002
                At 03:16 AM 6/15/2002 -0700, Loren Rosson wrote:
                >Bob Schacht wrote:
                >
                > > Also Raymond Brown's Birth of the Messiah
                > > and Death of the Messiah belong
                > > on your list somewhere. Some might claim that these
                > > have little to do with
                > > the historical Jesus, but what is more historical
                > > than birth and death?
                >
                >Bob, I'd say these definitely don't belong on Peter's
                >list. Raymond Brown once insisted (in an interview)
                >that he was not an HJ scholar, and that his
                >commentaries on the infancy and passion narratives do
                >not pertain to this field of study -- even if they
                >occasionally address what may or may not have
                >"actually happened".
                >
                >Loren Rosson III

                Loren,
                I'd have to say that I disagree with you (and with Brown himself!), for the
                following reasons:
                * He certainly is a Biblical Scholar, using (many? most? all?) of the
                same tools of inquiry as the others, and
                * Crossan writes so frequently against him with such passion and at
                such length that he is treated as if he were an HJ scholar.
                I'm not saying that Crossan *thinks* that he's an HJ scholar, but rather
                that given his place in the debate, readers ought to know more about where
                Brown is "coming from," as well. Consequently, at least for the purposes of
                Peter's web site, I would say that he belongs there as much as N.T. Wright
                and L.T. Johnson.

                But of course its *Peter's* web site, so he can do with it as he pleases....

                Bob


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Loren Rosson
                Bob, ... And an excellent scholar, to be sure. But not an HJ scholar. ... Good point. Peter should then probably choose between two alternatives: (1) scrap
                Message 7 of 12 , Jun 15, 2002
                  Bob,

                  > Loren,
                  > I'd have to say that I disagree with
                  > you (and with Brown himself!), for the
                  > following reasons:
                  > ...He certainly is a Biblical Scholar, using
                  > (many? most? all?) of the
                  > same tools of inquiry as the others,

                  And an excellent scholar, to be sure. But not an HJ
                  scholar.

                  > * Crossan writes so frequently against
                  > him with such passion and at such length that
                  > he is treated as if he were an HJ scholar.

                  Good point. Peter should then probably choose between
                  two alternatives: (1) scrap "Who Killed Jesus?" from
                  the list, sticking only to Crossan's specifically HJ
                  stuff, or (2) include "Who Killed Jesus?" and add
                  Raymond Brown's "Death of the Messiah" to the list. I
                  think the first option makes more sense.

                  By the way, in an earlier post I'd recommended that
                  Graham Twelftree and Morton Smith be added under a new
                  category, "Jesus the miracle-worker/magician". If
                  Peter does this, then Stevan Davies should probably be
                  moved to that category.

                  Loren Rosson III
                  Nashua NH
                  rossoiii@...

                  __________________________________________________
                  Do You Yahoo!?
                  Yahoo! - Official partner of 2002 FIFA World Cup
                  http://fifaworldcup.yahoo.com
                • Peter Kirby
                  ... From: Bob Schacht To: Sent: Saturday, June 22, 2002 11:37 AM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical
                  Message 8 of 12 , Jun 22, 2002
                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: "Bob Schacht" <bobschacht@...>
                    To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                    Sent: Saturday, June 22, 2002 11:37 AM
                    Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Jesus Theories


                    > At 02:28 AM 6/22/2002 -0700, you wrote:
                    > >Hello,
                    > >
                    > >I have just returned from a week-long vacation at Yosemite. ...
                    >
                    > Welcome back!

                    Thanks!

                    > >I thank everyone who took the time to respond to my page with a brief
                    overview
                    > >of historical Jesus theories. I am glad that there is interest in all this.
                    > >
                    > >I am a little dismayed that two of my questions went unanswered completely.
                    > >
                    > >2. Is there any scholar that I have misrepresented in some way in what I say
                    > >about their theories? Who and in what way?
                    >
                    > Well, OK, if you insist :-)
                    > In your summary of Stephen J. Patterson, you wrote:
                    > >Patterson suggests "that Jesus was a wisdom teacher, and that the early
                    > >Jesus movement thought of itself as a kind of wisdom
                    > >school" (ibid., p. 232).
                    >
                    > On that basis, I went searching in the book you quoted for information on
                    > Jesus as a wisdom teacher, and was hard pressed to find anything overtly on
                    > that subject. Yes, the quote is there, but in such a short summary, you
                    > seem to imply that Jesus as teacher was a more significant part of
                    > Patterson's theory than I was able to substantiate. But perhaps I need to
                    > read more of his books.

                    I probably need to read more of his books. Patterson has written _The Search
                    for Jesus_ and _The God of Jesus_, both of which probably provide more
                    information on his views about the historical Jesus than his book on the Gospel
                    of Thomas.

                    > >3. Is there any scholar that I do not present fully in leaving out an
                    > >important
                    > >point? Who and on what point?
                    >
                    > Your paragraph on Borg seems too brief. For example, one of Borg's major
                    > contributions (for good or ill, depending on your point of view) is to
                    > insist on differentiating between the "Jesus of History" and the "Christ of
                    > Faith," to the point that the one seems almost radically divorced from the
                    > other. This has far-ranging consequences, as it has the potential to cut
                    > the Christ of Faith loose from its moorings in the Jesus of History,
                    > floating off God only knows where.

                    This does seem to be a salient point, and I thank you for it, but I wonder
                    whether it fits in a survey of theories on the historical Jesus, not theories
                    about christology or a person's full stance about Jesus and the Christ of faith.

                    > >... I would like to
                    > >remind the participants that my effort is titled "Historical Jesus Theories,"
                    > >not "Historical Jesus Theorists." I am more interested in knowing what a
                    > >person
                    > >has to say than in knowing what right the person has to say it. I have no
                    > >intention of providing biographical detail, confessional stance, or relative
                    > >rank of importance for the writers whose theories are the subject of my
                    piece.
                    > >
                    > >I will not remove anyone who is already 'in'. If for no other reason, it is
                    > >because each author already included represents books bought, read, analyzed,
                    > >and summarized. I don't like to throw things away. What I have written,
                    > >I have written. ...
                    >
                    > This stance has important consequences for a point below:
                    >
                    >
                    > >.... I have restricted my theorists to the living. ...
                    >
                    > Aha! An important point, perhaps intended in your opening paragraph's
                    > reference to "contemporary" scholars.
                    > But if you restrict your theorists to the living, what happens when one of
                    > them dies? Then your policy of not removing what you have already written
                    > collides with your policy of restricting theorists to the living. Or will
                    > you, in addition to clarifying your lead sentence to the effect that
                    > "contemporary" means "living," will you also clarify by indicating "living
                    > on January 1, 2002" or whatever benchmark date? It is certainly your right
                    > to do so, but doesn't this begin to seem a bit arbitrary? Wouldn't it be
                    > more useful to set as your boundary theories formulated since, say, 1980?
                    > (or 1990)? This would be a more conventional way to define "contemporary."

                    I like the way that you teased out this tension in what I have said. I am
                    persuaded, and I will reformulate my excluding or including principles to be
                    restricted to books published after 1980. This does prevent me from having to
                    remove people as the grim reaper claims them. Although Morton Smith still falls
                    just outside of this range, Raymond Brown might be included if he took a view on
                    the historical Jesus in his published work.

                    > >I will certainly add more theories to the list, although it will take time
                    for
                    > >me to obtain the books and such. The names William Herzog, Bruce Chilton,
                    Ben
                    > >Witherington, Dale Allison, James Charlesworth, and Robert Price have been
                    > >suggested.
                    >
                    > And Vernon Robbins (Jesus the Teacher), I hope.

                    OK, but this will take time.

                    > >...Another motive is the motive of my entire "Early Christian Writings"
                    > >site: to
                    > >act as a repository for my study which can organize my own thoughts and
                    > >serve as
                    > >a reference for myself that happens to be shared with the world.
                    >
                    > This is a nice idea. Dale Allison or Bert Ehrmann wrote somewhere that the
                    > way to find out what you really think about Jesus is to write a book about
                    > him. I suppose I will never figure out what I really think about Jesus
                    > until I do that, but judging from my own past history, it will probably
                    > always be a work in progress. But your tactic of putting it on your web
                    > site serves the purpose of motivating you to clean up what might otherwise
                    > have been unorganized or poorly organized thoughts:

                    I take great joy in working on my web site, and I am glad that it has been
                    helpful to so many.

                    > >...Of course, with the fact that my web site is shared with the public brings
                    > >responsibility to be accurate and helpful, which is the motive for
                    > >presenting my
                    > >piece on "Historical Jesus Theories" for the review of the discussion list.
                    >
                    > I like that. It also gives "the world" an opportunity to help you refine
                    > your thinking. I should perhaps do the same.
                    >
                    > >...Bob writes: "But what about a work like Norman Perrin's Rediscovering
                    > >the Teaching of Jesus (1976)?"
                    > >
                    > >I know it seems arbitrary and even morose, but I do have to know whether
                    > >Perrin has a pulse.
                    >
                    > Yes, it not only seems arbitrary and morose, but morbid as well. Besides,
                    > you also wrote above that
                    > >I would like to remind the participants that my effort is titled
                    > >"Historical Jesus Theories,"
                    > >not "Historical Jesus Theorists." I am more interested in knowing what a
                    > >person
                    > >has to say than in knowing what right the person has to say it. I have no
                    > >intention of providing biographical detail, confessional stance, or relative
                    > >rank of importance for the writers whose theories are the subject of my
                    piece.
                    >
                    > In other words, while proclaiming that you are more interested in the
                    > theory rather than the theorist, you also demand to know whether the
                    > theorist has a pulse. I should think it would be more interesting to know
                    > if the theory has a pulse! Consequently, I would like to encourage you to
                    > add to your paragraph summaries your own assessment of the strengths and
                    > limitations of the scholar's theory.

                    I have indicated some of the arguments or of the criteria that some of the
                    scholars have used. But I will stop short of offering an assessment of the
                    worth of each individual theory. I would like to leave that for the reader to
                    work out in her own reading and study.

                    > >Bob writes: "Its more focused on the teaching than on Jesus, but there is a
                    > >lengthy last chapter on The Significance of the Knowledge of the Historical
                    > >Jesus and his Teaching (pp. 207-248). Are there no other attempts to depict
                    > >Jesus as Teacher?"
                    > >
                    > >I would say that Crossan, Patterson, Funk, and Borg have elements of a
                    > >dipiction
                    > >of Jesus as a teacher. As I say, much information is lost when a position is
                    > >reduced to a slogan.
                    >
                    > Yes, indeed. I am developing a manuscript (mainly for my own edification)
                    > on Jesus the Teacher that includes a literature review, and I have been
                    > looking through my bookshelf in that regard, so that by the time I get to
                    > analyzing the data I am compiling, I won't spend too much time re-inventing
                    > the wheel. Perhaps at some point I should post it on the XTalk website or
                    > on my own website (which has yet to be developed.)

                    I guess you should post it on the web if you want more people to read it.

                    > >...As I have made clear by now, and as I should probably write on the web
                    > >page, I
                    > >have restricted myself to theories proferred by the living.
                    >
                    > You better add a reference date, too, so that as your current crop of
                    > contemporary scholars begins to die, you won't have to debate with people
                    > about it.

                    At your suggestion, I will be dealing with books published 1980 to the present.

                    > >I appreciate all the feedback that I have received so far, and I look
                    > >forward to
                    > >any more feedback I may receive, particularly anything that has to do with
                    > >improving the descriptions that have already been written.
                    > >
                    > >thanks,
                    > >Peter Kirby
                    >
                    > And thank you for an interesting website, and for sharing it with us.

                    As I said, I enjoy working on the web site, and the fact that others enjoy it
                    too only adds to that.

                    best,
                    Peter Kirby
                  • Emmanuel Fritsch
                    Hello Peter, ... What is your definition of a scholar ? Due to the fact your definition looks quite permissive, I am surprised you forget to speek about
                    Message 9 of 12 , Jun 23, 2002
                      Hello Peter,

                      > 2. Is there any scholar that I have misrepresented in some way in what I say
                      > about their theories? Who and in what way?

                      What is your definition of a scholar ?

                      Due to the fact your definition looks quite permissive, I am
                      surprised you forget to speek about Jesus-as-yogi theories.

                      There have been really interesting theories showing Jesus as
                      a transcontinental budhist, sent from shrinagar in Palestine.
                      And I am sure you may find some living scholars that still
                      defend this theory.

                      > I will not remove anyone who is already 'in'. If for no other reason, it is
                      > because each author already included represents books bought, read, analyzed,
                      > and summarized. I don't like to throw things away. What I have written, I have
                      > written.

                      You have written at least three different point of view about
                      Testimonium Flavianum. Are they still all on line, or did you
                      keep only the last one, removing the two precedent ones ?

                      Since both were really interesting, it would have been great
                      to let them on line. But I can not find them anymore on your
                      site.

                      a+
                      manu
                    • Peter Kirby
                      ... From: Emmanuel Fritsch To: Sent: Sunday, June 23, 2002 10:41 PM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical
                      Message 10 of 12 , Jun 24, 2002
                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: "Emmanuel Fritsch" <emmanuel.fritsch@...>
                        To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                        Sent: Sunday, June 23, 2002 10:41 PM
                        Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Jesus Theories


                        >
                        > Hello Peter,
                        >
                        > > 2. Is there any scholar that I have misrepresented in some way in what I
                        say
                        > > about their theories? Who and in what way?
                        >
                        > What is your definition of a scholar ?

                        "Of course, the word 'writer' might be a better substitute for 'scholar' in
                        these
                        questions. There is the vexing question of designating who counts in the
                        scholastic ranks. Holding an academic position is the usual criterion, but it
                        can be pressed too far when people who have done more study than some with
                        academic chairs are snubbed for a position among the blessed, or when people
                        with academic chairs write nonsense."

                        > Due to the fact your definition looks quite permissive, I am
                        > surprised you forget to speek about Jesus-as-yogi theories.
                        >
                        > There have been really interesting theories showing Jesus as
                        > a transcontinental budhist, sent from shrinagar in Palestine.
                        > And I am sure you may find some living scholars that still
                        > defend this theory.

                        If you'd like to suggest the theory, I will need the name of an author and the
                        name of a book in English published after 1980.

                        > > I will not remove anyone who is already 'in'. If for no other reason, it is
                        > > because each author already included represents books bought, read,
                        analyzed,
                        > > and summarized. I don't like to throw things away. What I have written, I
                        have
                        > > written.
                        >
                        > You have written at least three different point of view about
                        > Testimonium Flavianum. Are they still all on line, or did you
                        > keep only the last one, removing the two precedent ones ?
                        >
                        > Since both were really interesting, it would have been great
                        > to let them on line. But I can not find them anymore on your
                        > site.

                        The revisions have supplanted the original, but no argument mentioned in
                        previous recensions have gone unnoticed.

                        best,
                        Peter Kirby
                      • Emmanuel Fritsch
                        Hello Peter, Since you are interest in exotic theories on HJ, here is a link to a site that claim him to be Caesar. http://www.carotta.de/pindex.html#english
                        Message 11 of 12 , Jun 26, 2002
                          Hello Peter,

                          Since you are interest in exotic theories on HJ, here
                          is a link to a site that claim him to be Caesar.

                          http://www.carotta.de/pindex.html#english

                          Enjoy.

                          a+
                          manu
                        • Peter Kirby
                          ... From: Emmanuel Fritsch To: Sent: Wednesday, June 26, 2002 5:23 AM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical
                          Message 12 of 12 , Jun 26, 2002
                            ----- Original Message -----
                            From: "Emmanuel Fritsch" <emmanuel.fritsch@...>
                            To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                            Sent: Wednesday, June 26, 2002 5:23 AM
                            Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Jesus Theories


                            >
                            > Hello Peter,
                            >
                            > Since you are interest in exotic theories on HJ, here
                            > is a link to a site that claim him to be Caesar.
                            >
                            > http://www.carotta.de/pindex.html#english
                            >
                            > Enjoy.

                            Actually, I don't think that I have spent much time with "exotic theories on
                            HJ," as in fact I have never read one of the books that says Jesus traveled in
                            India, or that Jesus and Mary Magdalene fathered a line of kings, or that Jesus
                            was Caesar, and so on. I suppose that the views of the right wing including
                            Stein are more conservative than exotic, and the views of G. A. Wells for
                            example are not so much exotic as they are skeptical. The most exotic theorist
                            currently on my list is probably Robert Eisenman.

                            Did you find a book published after 1980 that propounds a Jesus-as-yogi theory?

                            best,
                            Peter Kirby
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