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[XTALK] HJ and methodology

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  • Ed Jones
    Chris B. Mckinny wrote:
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 21, 2004
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      Chris B. Mckinny wrote: <I doubt �we� will ever progress in our mastery of
      history until we can agree on a set of assumptions and methods. For this to
      happen, the academy must first agree on the nature of reality now.> I
      substitute for �history�- �the Jesus of history�, for �reality now� -
      �Reality�, by way of an attempt to offer Schubert Ogden�s assumptions and
      methods for conducting the quest for the HJ and to suggest that they are
      representative of main-stream N.T. scholarship. My particular interest being
      that this may create some discussion toward demonstrating how Ogden�s
      procedures differ from those of the Jesus Seminar.

      From Ogden�s article Faith and Freedom, <religion-online.org>
      <To me it has long seemed to belong to the very constitution of Christian
      existence that all appropriately Christian faith and witness are and must be
      apostolic. If one exists as a Christian at all, - - one believes and bears
      witness with the apostles, solely on the basis of their prior faith and
      witness. - - given our present historical methods and knowledge, none of the
      writings of the New Testament is apostolic witness to (Jesus), The
      sufficient evidence - - is that all of them have been shown to depend on
      sources earlier than themselves and hence not to be the original and
      originating witness that the early church mistook them to be in judging them
      to be apostolic. The witness of the apostles is still rightly taken to be
      the real Christian norm, even if we today have to locate this norm not in
      the writings of the New Testament but in the earliest stratum of Christian
      witness accessible to us given our methods of historical analysis and
      reconstruction. (The late Willi) Marxsen argues � in my mind convincingly �
      that the real Christian norm is the witness to Jesus that makes up the
      earliest layer of the synoptic tradition. The so-called Jesus-kerygma, which
      is very definitely Christian Witness even though its Christology is merely
      implicit, in contrast with the explicit Christology of the Christ-kerygma
      that we find in John and the other New Testament writings, represents the
      earliest witness of faith that we today are in a position to recover. The
      first step we must take in using (Scripture) as a theological authority is
      historical rather than hermeneutical. Specifically, that is the step of
      reconstructing the history of tradition so as thereby to identify the
      earliest stratum in this tradition. The procedures required to execute it
      are identical with those long worked out in the quest of the historical
      Jesus - - with the single, if crucial difference that in this case there is
      no need to make any dubious inferences about Jesus himself, once the
      earliest stratum of Christian witness has been reconstructed.. Consequently,
      if one believes it possible to find the historical Jesus, one may be quite
      confident of finding what we today can rightly take to be the apostolic
      witness and hence the proper canon for judging the appropriateness of all
      Christian witness and theology.

      Ed Jones

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