now what? (was Heidegger's influence)
- Stevan posed the following question to me:
> What would be the alternative? To give equal credence to each textI don't have a great answer to that question, although I recognize it as an
> as it stands? That works from a literary critical perspective, but
> it would be the end of historical inquiry, wouldn't it? The texts
> would no longer be sources of information for something outside
> themselves. Historical inquiry does tend to take the texts as
> evidence for something more authentic than themselves, e.g.
> the patterns of activity that preceded and gave rise to the texts.
important one. I've spent all my recent energy trying to track the influence of
Heidegger, Romanticism, Hegel and Orientalism on the discipline, and haven't
gotten to the other side yet. I suppose I need to still work through the
deconstruction first, before I can ask other kinds of questions.
As is probably clear, I'm more comfortable with the literary approach than the
historical. I'm perfectly comfortable in assuming that there are a number of
different and competing textual pictures of Jesus inside and outside the NT- and
stopping there. I find no need to reconstruct the historical Jesus. I want to be
clear, though: that's a matter of preference and temperament rather than a
particular claim about historical inquiry.
At the same time, I'm not naive about literary studies of the Gospels. They are
as vulnerable to the problems I've been discussing as historical studies are. As
a matter of fact, some of the ideological issues that have been challenged on
historical critical grounds (i.e. the easy distinction between Hebrew/Hellene)
have resurfaced in a new aesthetic form. Shifting methodologies does not ensure
better results, at least not all by itself.
As for the historical question, I suppose that's better left to others who have
the skill and temperament for analysis of that sort. I hope that my analysis
contributes in some small way, that heightened awareness of the specific ways that
Heideggerianism has dominated previous analysis may help scholars create positions
of a different sort in the future. Beyond that, I don't really have much helpful
I suppose the question is this: to what extent does the quest for the historical
Jesus itself necessarily bring out the personal commitments of the scholar? To
what extent is it desirable and/or possible to escape the modern heritage in which
we live when we reconstruct the past? Better minds than mine are struggling with