- It is not so easy to find something to say about the historical Jesus
that has not been discussed and rehashed many times over. A discussion
group like Xtalk seems to have outlived its usefulness. Mighty rivers of
the past are known to have dried up and big lakes to have disappeared.
In his last book, Dale Allison sounds the alarm. He writes:
This volume as a whole is testimony to my conviction that the means that
most scholars have employed and continue to employ for constructing the
historical Jesus are too flimsy to endure, or at least too flimsy for me
to countenance any longer. I learned the discipline during an era when
everyone was taught to employ the so-called criteria of authenticity. We
were to find Jesus by, first, isolating individual units and then,
second, running them through a gauntlet consisting of multiple
attestations, dissimilarity, embarrassment, and so on. After many years
of playing by the rules, however, I have gradually come to abandon them.
I have decided that knowing the old directives has been of much less
help than promised. I am trying something else. This hook is the result.
Dale C. Allison Jr., Constructing Jesus Memory, Imagination, and
History (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, Michigan) 2010. x.
Is trying something else less hazardous or more satisfactory? Is the
answer to be found in a discussion of the role memory and imagination
can play in the writing of history?
It seems to me that Allison's dissatisfaction with the classical
methodology gospel scholarship has adopted so far invites him to look
for guidance in other disciplines. This widening of the horizon may be
unavoidable. But I am afraid Allison's attempt runs the risk of
making things more complicated and more hazardous. Interdisciplinary
studies are now fashionable. So far, they have promised more than they
were able to produce.
I invite those who are interested in this topic to discuss Allison's
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