5 quest for the historical jesus
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- 1. The Historical Jesus: Sources, Problem, and Method
- 2. - Is Jesus real? - Did Jesus really exist?
- 3. - Is Jesus real? - Did Jesus really exist?
- 4. Mark Luke Matthew John Not Historical but Theological documents
- 5. Mark Luke Matthew John Not a document source for the knowing the Historical Jesus
- 6. Among hundred of documents by pagan written (i.e. those who were niether Jewish nor Christian) that survive from the first century Common Era writings by historians, poets, philosophers, religious thinkers, public officials, and private person including literary texts, public inscriptions, private letters, and not scribbled on scrath papers Jesus was never mentioned.
- 7. There are no brith records, official correspondnce, philosophical rebuttals, literary discussions or personal reflections. Nothing written by any pagan author of the first century so much as mention Jesus name.
- 8. A. AMONG "PAGAN" SOURCES... 1. THALLUS (a Samaritan historian, ca. 52 C.E.) a. Wrote attempting to give a natural explanation for the darkness which occurred at the crucifixion of Jesus b. Note carefully: 1) He did not deny the existence of Jesus 2) But only tried to explain away the strange circumstances surrounding His death 2. LETTER OF MARA-SERAPION (written to his son, ca. 73 C.E.) a. He tells of the deaths of Socrates, Pythagoras, and of Jesus b. "What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise king?...Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given."
- 9. 3. CORNELIUS TACITUS (Roman historian, ca. 112 C.E..) a. Writes of Jesus in his ANNALS b. "Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberias." 4. PLINY THE YOUNGER a. Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor, ca. 112 C.E. b. Wrote to the emperor Trajan about Christians and their devotion to Christ 5. SEUTONIUS (Court official and annalist under Hadrian, 120 C.E.) a. "As the Jews were making constant disturbance at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome." b. Luke makes reference to this same expulsion in Ac 18:1-2
- 10. B. AMONG "JEWISH" SOURCES... 1. THE TALMUD a. Consists of two separate books dealing with Jewish law, written during the period from 100 C.E. to 500 C.E. b. Speaks frequently of Jesus of Nazareth... 1) In unfriendly terms, of course 2) But never disputing his status as a historical figure 2. FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS a. A Jewish general turned Roman historian, born 37 C.E. b. Makes several references to Jesus in his History Of The Jews c. E.g., "...and brought before it the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ, whose name was James. d. Jewish War against Rome (66-73 C.E.) in his book The Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.3) [Such is the evidence which must be taken into account by any intelligent and rational person.
- 11. The Testimony Flavius Josephus Probably most contraversial passge in all of Josephus writing in his description of Jesus in Book 18 of the Antiquities of the Jews. Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day. Flavius Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, 3
- 12. If we take out the Christianized portion of the passage, what we are left with, is the following: At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of starlting deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many jews and among many Greek origin. And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by leading men among us, condemn him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not died out (Meier 1991, 61)
- 13. He is God made flesh, the savior and Son of God. His father is God and his mother is a mortal virgin. He is born in a humble cowshed on December 25 before three shepherds. He offers his followers the chance to be born again through the rites of baptism. He rides triumphantly into town on a donkey while people wave palm leaves to honor him. He dies at Eastertime as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. After his death he descends to hell, then on the third day he rises from the dead and ascends to heaven in glory. His followers await his return as the judge during the Last Days. His death and resurrection are celebrated by a ritual meal of bread and wine, which symbolize his body and blood.
- 14. This is the story of Osiris-Dionysus. Osiris was an Egyptian god who first appears in Egyptian tombs approximately 2500 years before Jesus. Dionysus (or Bacchus) is Osiris Greek representation and first appears about 1500 years before Jesus. A description of Dionysus agrees almost point to point with the gospel descriptions of Jesus. -- Freke and Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries, p.5
- 15. Towards the end of their study (p. 207): In synthesizing the perennial myth of the dying and resurrecting God-man with Jewish expectations of a historical Messiah the creators of the Jewish Mysteries took an unprecedented step, the outcome of which they could never have guessed. And yet, upon analysis, the end was already there in the beginning. The Messiah was expected to be a historical, not mythical, savior. Freke and Gandy are, in some ways, better known than others doubting the historicity of Jesus. But they are not alone and other studies by both critics and proponents of a Historical Jesus are included in the Bibliography.
- 16. The two-hundred year-long Quest for the Historical Jesus We can now know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus, since the early Christian sources show no interest in either, are moreover fragmentary and often legendary; and other [historical] sources about Jesus do not exist. -Rudolf Bultmann, German theologian
- 17. As for the story of Jesus, there were at least 50 gospels written in the first and second century CE. Four of them (Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John) were included in the official canon during the fourth century CE and are found today in every Bible. All of the original copies of the gospels were lost. What we have now are handwritten copies, which are an unknown number of replications removed from the originals.
- 18. For more than 250 years Christian historians and theologians have applied scientific and less-so techniques to the millennial effort to prove the existence of a human Jesus of Christian scripture. Some scholars claim that Paul, writing decades before the appearance of Mark, the earliest gospel, made no claims for a Jesus-of-the-flesh. But if Jesus never lived, how understand Romans 8:11: And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. In order for God to have raised [Jesus] from the dead Jesus must have previously been alive. So the claim for Jesus mortality dates back to pre-gospel claims in Paul. And Paul, unable point to historical evidence was dependent on faith (his vision of Jesus) as his proof of Jesus earthly existence
- 19. The Search falls neatly into three (some prefer four/five) stages with Reimarus rational method describing the first; Schweitzers Quest for the Historical Jesus inspiring the Second. The Jesus Seminar may serve to initiate the Third Stage The stages seem unified as efforts to prove Jesus existence.
- 20. Scholars think of historical Jesus research as having four stages: No Quest: 26-1738 Old Quest: 1738-1940s New Quest: 1950s-1970s Third Quest: 1980s-today
- 21. No Quest: 26-1738 For most of history, Jesus was simply worshiped as the Christ. The historicity of the gospels was assumed, even though the contradicted each other. The historical Jesus was the Jesus of faith; Jesus was whoever your flavor of Christianity told you he was.
- 22. Old Quest: 1738-1906 (First Quest) Seventeen centuries passed before scholars tried to reconstruct the historical Jesus from the evidence. Thomas Chubb (1679-1747) questioned religious morality and demanded that dogma be subject to reason. He defended Christianity and argued that Jesus core message was the imminent Kingdom of God and good news for the poor.
- 23. H.S. Reimarus (1694-1768) denied miracles and listed contradictions in the Old and New Testaments. For Reimarus, Jesus didnt want to supersede Judaism with his teachings. The disciples, dismayed that Jesus predictions didnt come true, stole his body and then invented stories about him to support their individual theologies. David Strauss (1808-1874) analyzed the gospels miracle stories as myths. His book The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined was called the most pestilential book ever vomited out of the jaws of hell.
- 24. Ernest Renan (1823-1892) urged that Jesus life should be studied critically like that of every other man, an idea which enraged the Church. He read French Romanticism into the life of Jesus, for example suggesting that Jesus wept at Gethsemane because he imagined the young maidens who, perhaps, would have consented to love him. Martin Kahler (1835-1912) drew a distinction between the historical Jesus and the Jesus of faith, and said we should let the Christ of faith replace the historical Jesus. Emil Schurer (1844-1910) helped launch the study of ancient Judaism, though it was seen as merely the background for the New Testament.
- 25. Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) shook things up in 1906 with The Quest of the Historical Jesus. He showed that these scholars and more had only discovered a Jesus they wanted to see, and did not employ rigorous and disinterested research. Schweitzers own theory was that Jesus was most concerned with the coming end of the world. Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976) launched Form Criticism, the study of the literary forms in the gospels. He defended the idea that Matthew and Luke are dependent on Mark and a lost book called Q, now the dominant scholarly opinion. He attempted to demythologize the gospels, hoping to ignore superstitious claims about the virgin birth of a god-man while focusing on the symbolic truths of the gospels. The Old Quest was heavily driven by theology, and paid little attention to archaeology or historical method. Still, it was the first attempt to understand Jesus apart from church dogma.
- 26. New Quest: 1950s-1970s (Second Quest) The New Quest began on October 23, 1953 when Ernst Kasemann presented his lecture on The Problem of the Historical Jesus to a reunion of Bultmanns students. The ideals and methods adopted by the New Quest did differ somewhat from Bultmanns thought. Kasemann criticized Bultmanns total disconnection of history and faith, emphasizing that Jesus must be rooted in history to some degree to avoid docetism which would allow Christ to be formed however the scholar wills. He argued that we can discover more about Jesus than Rudolf Butlmann thought, and that the historical Jesus is crucial for authentic Christian faith. This was a valid criticism which the New Quest was right to take up.
- 27. relied heavily upon the sayings of Jesus as primary material, generally ignoring the events surrounding his life as worthy material for discerning the historical Jesus. makes full use of critical tools such as source and form criticism which Wright asserts have caused considerable difficulty when it comes to serious historical reconstruction. holds to an extreme view of apocalyptic and rejects it in contrast to Schweitzer who accepted it. generally views scripture is useless in establishing any type of historical truth. The creation of Israel in 1948 brought renewed interest to the study of Judaism in Jesus time, and the discoveries of the Nag Hammadi library (1945) and the Dead Sea Scrolls (1947) brought archaeology and textual scholars into the field of Jesus research. Other New Quest writers include Gunther Bornkamm, W.D. Davies, John A.T. Robinson, and Edward Schillebeeckx.
- 28. Third Quest: 1980s-today By the 1980s, something new was happening. Theological concerns diminished, and scholars used scientific historical methods to discover the Jesus who actually lived in history. New Testament scholars joined with experts in ancient Judaism, textual critics, sociologists and archaeologists. Because Jesus research had now submitted to agreed- upon scientific and historical methods, a wider variety of scholars participated. As James Charlesworth puts it, today it is often not asked or even obvious if an author is a Roman Catholic priest a liberal Christian, a conservative Christian, a Jew, an agnostic, or an atheist.
- 29. Major scholars of the Third Quest include David Flusser, Geza Vermes, E.P. Sanders, Marcus Borg, James Dunn, N.T. Wright, J.P. Meier, John Dominic Crossan, Gerd Theissen, Paula Fredricksen, Gerd Ludemann, Bruce Chilton, Gary Habermas, and L.T. Johnson. In 1985, Robert Funk founded the Jesus Seminar, a group of about 150 scholars in biblical studies and related fields. They discuss the historical Jesus and then vote on what they think is historical or not historical. Also, the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion launched The Jesus Project, another gathering of scholars to investigate the historical Jesus.
- 30. The seminar's reconstruction of the historical Jesus portrayed him as an itinerant Hellenistic Jewish sage and faith healer who preached a gospel of liberation from injustice in startling parables and aphorisms. An iconoclast, Jesus broke with established Jewish theological dogmas and social conventions both in his teachings and behaviors, often by turning common-sense ideas upside down, confounding the expectations of his audience: He preached of "Heaven's imperial rule" (traditionally translated as "Kingdom of God") as being already present but unseen; he depicts God as a loving father; he fraternizes with outsiders and criticizes insiders.
- 31. According to the seminar, Jesus was a mortal man born of two human parents, who did not perform nature miracles nor die as a substitute for sinners nor rise bodily from the dead. Sightings of a risen Jesus were nothing more than the visionary experiences of some of his disciples rather than physical encounters.
- 32. The seminar treats the canonical gospels as historical sources that represent Jesus' actual words and deeds as well as elaborations of the early Christian community and of the gospel authors. The fellows placed the burden of proof on those who advocate any passage's historicity. Unconcerned with canonical boundaries, they asserted that the Gospel of Thomas may have more authentic material than the Gospel of John.
- 33. The seminar holds a number of premises or "scholarly wisdom" about Jesus when critically approaching the gospels. They act on the premise that Jesus did not hold an apocalyptic worldview, an opinion that is controversial in mainstream scholarly studies of Jesus. Rather than revealing an apocalyptic eschatology, which instructs his disciples to prepare for the end of the world, the fellows argue that the authentic words of Jesus indicate that he preached a sapiential eschatology, which encourages all of God's children to repair the world.
- 34. The Fellows of the Jesus Seminar employed a set of criteria by which to evaluate the probable authenticity of sayings (and deeds) attributed to Jesus. In its attempt to reconstruct Jesus' actual teachings, the Seminar examined both canonical and non canonical sources of the firs t three centuries C. E. , including the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas. The methodology for distinguishing Jesus' words from those of later followers who preached about him and whose declarations of faith were ultimately incorporated into Jesus' Gospel speeches includes several important standards of evidence.
- 35. Criteria for Reconstructing the Life of Jesus and Testing his Authentic Sayings
- 36. Scholars have developed a series of criteria by which to distinguish Jesus' authentic sayings from those ascribed to him in the Gospels. The Gospels appear to include at least four levels of the Jesus tradition: 1. THE TEST OF ORALITY. Because Jesus taught orally, to be remembered his ideas must have been vividly worded to achieve maximum impact on his largely illiterate Galilean audiences. To be remembered and quoted repeatedly during a long period of oral transmission, Jesus' sayings must have been strikingly memorable.
- 37. 2. THE FORM TEST. Jesus' best remembered sayings were cast in the form of concise aphorisms and parables that drew on familiar practices of rural peasant life. He used concrete images and made unexpected comparisons, freely employing such rhetorical devices as hyperbole, metaphor, humor, and paradox. Contrary to the Johannine picture, he apparently did not deliver long philosophical discourses.
- 38. 3. THE TEST OF DISTINCTIVENESS. Jesus' aphorisms differed from both common Palestinian-Jewish beliefs or practices and from later formulations of the Hellenistic church. His genuine teachings probably sounded peculiar, even outrageous, to his original hearers. Jesus' sayings tended to defy conventional wisdom and overturn normal ways of looking at the world. Authentic statements tend to challenge accepted social values and reverse ordinary expectations. (Of course, Jesus probably also spoke unmemorably about routine matters, but such discourse would not reveal his unique voice or typical idiom.)
- 39. 4. DISSIMILARITY. A somewhat different aspect of the distinctiveness test, the criterion of dissimilarity holds that a saying may be authentic if it differs significantly from both first-century Judaisms and early Christianity. Jesus' use of the Aramaic term Abba (an informal term for "father") (Mark 14:36; Luke 11:2) differs from the church's more formal way of addressing the Deity (Matt. 6:9) and probably represents Jesus distinctive practice. The obvious weakness in the dissimilarity criterion is that many of Jesus' characteristic teachings, including his emphasis on love, were also shared by other Palestinian teachers of his day (Mark 12:28-34) . In fact, historians find Judean parallels to virtually all of Jesus' ethical pronouncements.
- 40. 5. MULTIPLE ATTESTATION. This standard for determining reliable material considers the variety of different sources in which a particular statement or teaching occurs. If a saying appears in Mark, the Q document, and the Gospel of Thomas-all of which are presumed to be independent of each other-it is likely to be genuine. Jesus' emphasis on the kingdom of God appears to be confirmed by its frequent appearance in all three of these sources. The criterion of multiple attestation also affirms several other traditions, such as Jesus' interest in women, the poor, and social outcasts such as lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, and other "sinners." The tradition that Jesus performed healings, emphasized wisdom precepts, and challenged both religious and political authority structures is also multiply attested.
- 41. 6. COHERENCE. This standard allows the scholar to regard material as potentially authentic if it resembles material already established by the criteria of orality, distinctiveness, and multiple attestation. If a saying or action is consistent with themes and concepts generally recognized as genuine, it too may be accepted. Many of the sayings designated as gray (probably not from Jesus) by the Jesus Seminar, for example, include some statements that approximate ideas in genuine sayings.
- 42. 7. AWKWARDNESS. Some scholars believe that a tradition about Jesus, which the early church apparently found awkward or problematical such as the reputed irregularity of Jesus' birth, his baptism by John for "remission of sins," his proclivity for associating with notorious sinners, and (above all) his shameful execution by a Roman governor-is likely to be authentic. Traditions that church apologists found embarrassing or difficult to explain caused too much general discomfort for believers to have added them as accretions to Jesus' story. This criterion of discomfort is particularly helpful in evaluating the plausibility of Jesus' actions, including his inability to win over most of his contemporaries and his controversial behavior in the Temple.
- 43. 8. LINGUISTIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL EVIDENCE. This criterion uses linguistic and cultural evidence to eliminate sayings incorrectly ascribed to Jesus by later followers. If a Greek-language form underlies the pre- Gospel oral version of a particular saying, it cannot be authentic. Scholars agree that Jesus spoke a Galilean dialect of Aramaic and expressed his ideas in the context of a Jewish Palestinian setting. Thus, sayings that reveal a Greco-Roman background are probably the creation of later Hellenistic disciples. The presence of a Hebrew or Aramaic form in a given saying may increase the probability of its genuineness but not prove it. The earliest Christians were Palestinian Jews who shared Jesus ' linguistic and cultural environment.
- 44. Jesus may have been both a sage and a relatively traditional eschatological prophet in the manner of John the Baptist. If this view is correct, there would be a direct line from the Baptist to Jesus ' Synoptic proclamation and to Paul's fervent expectations of Christ's swift return.
- 45. Scholars in large part agree that the historical Jesus taught about God's kingdom (whatever his precise meaning by the phrase), but most question the belief that he taught about himself. Although he seems to have perceived the world and his mission from the vantage point of one who holds a peculiarly close relationship to God, he is not believed to have called himself Christ, Son of God, or the Holy One of Israel. All these honorific titles, scholars believe, were bestowed upon him posthumously by a community that -in retrospect- recognized him as Israel's Messiah and God's chief agent, the means by which the Deity reconciles humanity to himself.
- 46. In telling Jesus' story so that readers could understand his true significance, it was natural for the Gospel writers to apply titles such as Christ and Son of God to the historical figure. In the Evangelists' view, they could not write the truth about who Jesus was unless they presented him in the light of his resurrection and glorification. The Galilean prophet and teacher who had challenged the world's norms in the name of a radical egalitarianism for all God's children was-by his continuing life in the believing community- vindicated as divine, the Wisdom and love of God made flesh.