The JS and the Historical Jesus, P.S.
Funk and Crossan are the co-chairs of the Jesus Seminar. But Crossan is not named as co-author of either of the two books.
Like probably the considerable majority of the Fellows, they are primarily gospel scholars, not historians. They were already doing ground-breaking work on the parables of Jesus thirty years ago. Their Greek is probably better than their Aramaic. (In contrast Vermes and Flusser are primarily scholars of late 2nd Temple Judaism. Each approach to Jesus has its own strengths.)
Funk is a human dynamo, who has to be watched so that he does not burn himself out. Without him the JS would not exist. Its energy and direction come from him and a circle of those close to him.
Crossan seems to be more of a solo high-flyer. He has been described as a celtic Catholic with the soul of a leprechaun. Funk apparently grew up as some sort of Bible College fundamentalist. One can imagine him as a successor of the hardline left-wing of the Reformation--the kind of guys who used to go into the churches and knock the heads off the statues of the saints and Mary so that the people would not be distracted from focusing on God... His theology seems to be situated somwhere between the Deists and David Hume. Crossan thinks the 16th century Reformation was a disaster.
For some reason there are very few women among the Fellows, who are mostly white male teacher/scholars--both Funk and Crossan are great teachers--though there are a some part-time pastors. The minimal presence of women and non-white scholars seems to be accepted as unproblematic.
I don't know how many of the Fellows have been engaged in serious dialogue with Jewish thinkers and scholars, nor how many have been working on the interface between religion and science; two areas where much creative work is presently being done. I dont know if any have made significant contributions in the area of Hebrew Scripture studies. (The early 'Great Church', which alone preserved traditions concerning the Jesus of Galilee and Jerusalem, also insisted against the more radical Marcion in retaining the Israelite Scriptures--even if they ranked them as second class, with the name "Old--worn out?--Testament".)
Today many gentile scholars see the two bodies of writings as complementary. If they were asked to choose between dropping five or six New Testament writings; or dropping say Isaiah, Jeremiah, Job, Qoheleth and the psalms, their choice would be unhesitating.
Presently there is much talk at the JS of Radical Reformation. Is it radical religious reformation? If so, it might be religion without praise or song or prayer or community; and religion where hope and despair, illness and heartbreak would be seen as embarrassments not to be brought up. Would it care for the poor? Would it know how to care for its sick or troubled members? Can you create religious reformation by scholarship alone, with Galileo, Thomas Jefferson and David Friedrich Strauss as your 'patron saints'--if the expression may be excused?
Perhaps a blend of JS thinking plus some uniquely American form of Buddhism, to give it some depth, may emerge. And the same thinking may also feed into and enrich the syncretism of the Unitarian Universalists. And who knows what else, given the present ferment of Seeking. One thing is certain, though, the JS will not carry through, or even spark, a Second Reformation of the Christian Church, or of the jumble of denominations and sects known as Protestantism. If anyone does that it will be the Pentecostals--unless of course the Pentecostals learn how to think and the JS how to sing, and then they can do it together!
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
The Leprechaun spirit is abroad tonight. :-)
on 30/11/00 8:09 am, Brian McCarthy at brmcc@... wrote:
> Richard,.. Snipped
> Funk and Crossan are the co-chairs of the Jesus Seminar. But Crossan is not
> named as co-author of either of the two books.
> Perhaps a blend of JS thinking plus some uniquely American form of Buddhism,
> to give it some depth, may emerge. And the same thinking may also feed into
> and enrich the syncretism of the Unitarian Universalists. And who knows what
> else, given the present ferment of Seeking. One thing is certain, though, the
> JS will not carry through, or even spark, a Second Reformation of the
> Christian Church, or of the jumble of denominations and sects known as
> Protestantism. If anyone does that it will be the Pentecostals--unless of
> course the Pentecostals learn how to think and the JS how to sing, and then
> they can do it together!
> Brian McCarthy
> Madison WI
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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