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Ascertaining The Consensus

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  • Andrew Lloyd <a.lloyd2@ntlworld.com>
    In my time discussing the nature of the historical Jesus debate with those interested in that self-same debate (including some members of XTalk) the thought is
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 11, 2003
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      In my time discussing the nature of the historical Jesus debate with
      those interested in that self-same debate (including some members of
      XTalk) the thought is starting to strike me that there is a de facto
      consensus taking place. (I mention it because it struck me as
      slightly surprising and I wasn't totally impressed by it.) The
      nature of this consensus, a consensus that is not always present as
      an overt presupposition, is that the historical Jesus debate is
      really the discussion of early Christianity, how that came to be,
      what its "conditions" were, in political, theological, sociological,
      economic (etc., ad infinitum) terms, and how, AS A PART OF THAT
      PHENOMENON, various historical Jesuses (here conceived semantically
      rather than physically) came to be and were utilised instrumentally
      by the early Christian communities as a part of their existence and
      furtherance. (As two prominent pieces of evidence for this thought I
      would suggest the amount and tenor of research into Q and gospel
      sources and also the social scientific interest in Christian
      origins.) Thus, any naive idea of "going back to Jesus" is actually
      being (not always knowingly) by-passed in contemporary historical
      Jesus research for which Jesus substitutes as a (broadly)
      sociological phenomenon, a product, in the semantic sense, of those
      who believed in him. (It might also be said that, from another angle
      of attack, Burton Mack's approach, which is overtly of
      the "trajectory" of "plurality of beliefs" kind, might seem to have
      currently won by default any argument of how to approach the
      historical Jesus debate if this is anywhere near true.)

      Is this thought that strikes me pertinent to the historical Jesus
      debate with which XTalk participants are familiar? Are the same
      participants more concerned with early Christianity and its beliefs
      (and their contexts) than in "Jesus himself"? Is the contemporary
      historical Jesus debate "sociological" in this sense? Is the
      historical Jesus, as a semantic as well as a physical figure in his
      own right, off the point of contemporary research? The "great man"
      is dead long live the great plurality of beliefs about him?

      Andrew Lloyd (PhD Cand.)
      Nottingham, England
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