4998Two burial stories
- Sep 7, 2004I wish to answer here Tobias Hägerlands post of Sept. 6, 2004.
Thank you for the additional explanations you have introduced in your
Two points have retained my attention. The first one has to do with the
historical critical methodology. The second point has to do with the
precious nature of faith.
FIRST POINT: METHODOLOGY
<The discussion of criteria in historical Jesus research has nearly
developed into a discipline of its own. Interestingly, discussion in
this area has produced not only a number of 'criteria of
authenticity' but also a few 'criteria of inauthenticity', by which a
saying or episode can be judged as lacking historical merit. I follow
Tom Holmén (_Jesus and Jewish Covenant Thinking_, Brill 2002) in
accepting two criteria by which to establish lack of historicity. The
first criterion argues that any Gospel saying or episode that does
not conform to what we know about the circumstances in 1st century
Palestine - that is, a saying or episode clearly anachronistic - is
not historical. The second criterion is the criterion of incoherence:
that which contradicts other sayings or actions of Jesus, the
historicity of which have already been established, is not historical.>
The problem I see with the methodology you advocate here is that it does
not allow you to decide whether the events described in John 19:31-34
are historical or not.
If I were to judge the tree from its fruit, I would have to say that the
various methods that have been advocated so far leave a lot to be
desired. None of the important questions related to the historicity
problem has been adequately resolved. On the contrary, I see a lot of
skepticism around me. Many seem to have given up on the historicity
This is why I am in favor of a more intelligent approach to the problem.
The tools we use in our research must be custom-made and constantly
improved, so as to be really useful. The methods we follow are our
tools. It makes no sense, in my view, to remain faithful to methods that
have produced sour fruit. In this regard, my aim is to invite you and
the resourceful members of this list to a common research for a better
SECOND POINT: FAITH
I think that faith is a very precious thing. This is why I would not
allow my critical study of the gospel to make me contemptuous of those
who have remained faithful to the faith of their childhood. I do not
think, for example, that my mother was simple-minded just because she
was a devout Catholic. It is true that I have evolved in the way I deal
with the faith of my childhood. It is also true that I would encourage
people to become more mature in the way they understand their religion.
There is in the maturity process a negative dimension, which is critical
of certain things. But the negativity is not the final step. It has to
be followed by another step, which allows us to see and judge the
spiritual dimension in a less naïve way.
In the seventeenth century, the Europeans saw in Galileos view a threat
to their faith. We no longer make a similar connection today. In the
same way, if our faith is based on having an empty tomb, we will be
reluctant to admit that the stories of Joseph of Arimathea and of the
empty tomb are not historical. An admission of this nature requires a
revision of our understanding of our faith. But I do not think that such
a revision would be more catastrophic than the revision of the ancient
views relatively to the new knowledge Galileo has introduced.
P.O. Box 116-2088
Telephone (961) 1 423 145
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