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Re: "Gospel Commentaries"

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  • Steven Deedon
    1. *The Five Gospels* presents a nice overview, and often the collective judgment of the vote is congruent with what I would call the gravitational weight of
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 18, 2012
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      1. *The Five Gospels* presents a nice overview, and often the collective
      judgment of the vote is congruent with what I would call the "gravitational
      weight"of scholarly opinion. But the vote makes the individual scholars'
      methodologies and arguments underlying them opaque. A judge can give all
      the instruction in the world to jurors, but in the end you never know why
      the decided as they did. (This was the argument Charles Black made that
      led to the Supreme Court ruling that overturned US death penalty laws in
      the early 1970s.)



      Some of the Jesus Seminar folks seem to have a blind spot re
      eschatology/apocalyptic, IMO,perhaps because of theories about the
      stratification of Q. I found it bizarre that the JS volume on JBap
      blithely declared that JBap was an apocalyptist but that his disciple Jesus
      was not.

      Hard not to admire Meier for sticking largely to his methodology (criteria
      of authenticity), and it's proved very fruitful, but it also narrows his
      lens and excludes The Context Group; we'll have to wait for Vol. 5 to see
      whether he ignores the literary/rhetorical-structural literature on
      parables. As I recall he has taken no account of Winters' and Theissen's
      critique of the Criterion of Dissimilarity (and suggested alternative) as
      his series progressively comes to fruition.

      I recommend the Historical Jesus "textbook" by Gerd Theissen and Ann Merz
      as the best one-volume introduction. It does a nice job of covering much
      of the literature, and has some fresh thinking and unique material, like
      the analysis of the "Words of Institution."

      Steve

      Steven Deedon
      New Haven, CT
      stevendeedon@...
      http://stevendeedon.wordpress.com

      "Openness is all." - Thomas Merton, in "Recollections of Thomas Merton's
      Last Days in the West," Brother David Steindl-Rast.


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    • Gordon Raynal
      ... Steve, In the old days of this group we went over this more than once and you can search the records for those debates. All I ll note is the description
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 18, 2012
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        On Aug 18, 2012, at 10:02 AM, Steven Deedon wrote:

        > 1. *The Five Gospels* presents a nice overview, and often the
        > collective
        > judgment of the vote is congruent with what I would call the
        > "gravitational
        > weight"of scholarly opinion. But the vote makes the individual
        > scholars'
        > methodologies and arguments underlying them opaque. A judge can
        > give all
        > the instruction in the world to jurors, but in the end you never
        > know why
        > the decided as they did. (This was the argument Charles Black
        > made that
        > led to the Supreme Court ruling that overturned US death penalty
        > laws in
        > the early 1970s.)
        >
        >
        >
        > Some of the Jesus Seminar folks seem to have a blind spot re
        > eschatology/apocalyptic, IMO,perhaps because of theories about the
        > stratification of Q. I found it bizarre that the JS volume on JBap
        > blithely declared that JBap was an apocalyptist but that his
        > disciple Jesus
        > was not.
        >
        Steve,

        In the old days of this group we went over this more than once and you
        can search the records for those debates. All I'll note is the
        description of "blind spot" is completely inaccurate to described the
        long and patient work that was done to sift through the words and
        deeds attributed to Jesus across every available resource. Yes, this
        included the acceptance of the work done on strata in Q, but also work
        on Thomas and the wisdom materials in many strands of the tradition.
        Their report is an avowed consensus report of scholars done across
        more of a decade of open debate. One may surely disagree with the
        consensus on any number of points (and, of course, many scholars of
        the group did have and keep their disagreements on this matter), but
        this characterization of the work is simply not an accurate
        description of what was achieved and the continuing importance of
        these two works as a basis to continue the serious scholarly
        enterprise of debating these issues.

        Gordon Raynal
        Inman, SC
      • Jared Nuzzolillo
        ... It s important to note that while their report did constitute an avowed consensus , that that was a consensus (of a sort) *among the scholars who
        Message 3 of 3 , Aug 19, 2012
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          >
          > Steve,
          > In the old days of this group we went over this more than once and you
          > can search the records for those debates. All I'll note is the
          > description of "blind spot" is completely inaccurate to described the
          > long and patient work that was done to sift through the words and
          > deeds attributed to Jesus across every available resource. Yes, this
          > included the acceptance of the work done on strata in Q, but also work
          > on Thomas and the wisdom materials in many strands of the tradition.
          > Their report is an avowed consensus report of scholars done across
          > more of a decade of open debate. One may surely disagree with the
          > consensus on any number of points (and, of course, many scholars of
          > the group did have and keep their disagreements on this matter), but
          > this characterization of the work is simply not an accurate
          > description of what was achieved and the continuing importance of
          > these two works as a basis to continue the serious scholarly
          > enterprise of debating these issues.


          It's important to note that while their report did constitute an "avowed
          consensus", that that was a consensus (of a sort) *among the scholars who
          participated in the seminar.* As to whether their two works is "a basis to
          continue the serious scholarly enterprise", I think few would disagree,
          *if* by that you mean that a serious scholarly treatment should at least
          take seriously and engage with their report. I think it'd come as no
          surprise that many scholars found significant problems with their
          methodology, their criteria and the consequent report.

          Take, for example, one scholar responding to "the Jesus Seminar is
          consensus" claim:

          The Jesus Seminar portrays itself to the media as the representative voice
          of New Testament scholarship today, going over the heads of the clergy to
          tell unsuspecting laymen, who have been duped by the Church, what Jesus was
          really like. They claim some 200 participants in the Seminar, who are
          supposed to be the embodiment of a scholarly approach to the New Testament.
          Just one evidence of this pretension is that they have named their
          translation of the gospels "The Scholar�s Version"��as though the teams of
          linguists and experts who produced such translations as the RSV, NEB, or
          NIV were not scholars! [...] Well, the reality turns out to be much
          different. Their claim to have 200 scholars in the Seminar is grossly
          inflated: that figure includes anybody who in any way was involved in the
          Seminar�s activities, such as being on a mailing list. The real number of
          regular participants is only about 40. And what about the scholarly
          credentials of the members? Of the 74 listed in their publication The Five
          Gospels, only 14 would be leading figures in the field of New Testament
          studies. More than half are basically unknowns, who have published only two
          or three articles. Eighteen of the fellows have published nothing at all in
          New Testament studies! Most have relatively undistinguished academic
          positions, for example, teaching at a community college. According to
          Johnson, "The numbers alone suggest that any claim to represent
          �scholarship� or the �academy� is ludicrous."{22} *****Indeed, it is the
          Seminar�s claim to represent the consensus of scholarship that has really
          burned New Testament scholars.***** [emphasis added] And I want to
          emphasize I�m not talking about the reactions of conservatives or
          evangelicals: I�m talking about the broad spectrum of New Testament
          scholars. For example, Howard Kee denounces the Jesus Seminar as "an
          academic disgrace," and says that its conclusions are "prejudicial" and
          "peripheral," not "a substantive development in responsible scholarly study
          of the historical Jesus."{23} [1]


          Speaking only for myself, I found the book *The Five Gospels* incredibly
          helpful as one perspective on Jesus and especially as a resource to learn
          interesting facts about 1st century Palestine. I only hope that any claim
          to it being *the* consensus interpretation of the Gospels will be viewed
          cautiously.

          Best wishes,
          Jared Nuzzolillo
          Fort Lauderdale, FL

          [1] - William Lane Craig,
          http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/rediscover1.html


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