Historical Jesus 3: Jesus Seminar

As a result of a very busy programme I could not post the third part on the Historical Jesus reaseach. As mentioned before, these post are from Jesus Creed hosted by Scot McKnight and you can read the original post as well as several comments in the discussion if you are interested.

This post helped me to understand what the Jesus Seminar was about, but the series helped me to understand that not all historical Jesus research is bad, but that historical Jesus research is very important if we are serious in our quest to understand the message of the Bible

Bultmann unleashed a set of criteria that were used to determine if what is attributed to Jesus in the Gospels really came from him. Now once again let’s remind ourselves of something: the historical Jesus quest is about discerning what the “real” Jesus was like in comparison to what the Gospels say about him. It is nearly always a deconstructive process (convering “red” letters into grey or black letters — see below) and then a reconstructive process (picturing a Jesus on the basis of what one finds to be historically-reliable). Everything depends on the “criteria.”

These criteria became sensationalized in the work of the Jesus Seminar led by Robert Funk, which led to the famous The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say? where we were treated to the red/pink/grey/black letter edition of the Gospels — red being “said by Jesus” and black being “not possibly said by Jesus.”

It operates on this assumption from Norman Perrin: “The early Church absolutely and completely identified the risen Lord of her experience with the earthly Jesus of Nazareth and created for her purposes, which she conceived to be his, the literary form of the gospel, in which words and deeds ascribed in her consciousness to both the earthly Jesus and the risen Lord were set down in terms of the former” (Rediscovering, 1).

Here is a brief statement of the major criteria, and these are then applied to the Gospels to see what floats to the top as “authentic.”

1. If a saying or event shows clear tension both with Judaism at the time of Jesus and with the early churches, then it neither came from Judaism nor from the early church, so therefore it came from Jesus. Jesus calling God “Abba” is typically used as an example since it is rare in Judaism and not used in Aramaic very often in the early churches. (Don’t pick on examples.)

2. If a saying or event is found in more than one of the Gospel sources then it is from Jesus. This like the “more than one witness” element in law. If it is found in Mark and in Q and in “M” (stuff only in Matthew) and “L” (stuff only in Luke) and in John and in Gospel of Thomas etc it is more likely to have been said or done by Jesus. The less sources, the less provable. (Jesus practiced table fellowship with sinners.)

3. If a saying or event coheres with what we know from the above then it is probable that it comes from Jesus. Jesus preached a kingdom theology of inclusion — or something like this.

7 Kommentaar

Filed under Die Christelike Lewe

7 responses to “Historical Jesus 3: Jesus Seminar

  1. Soekend

    Am I understanding this right:
    1. – only those words that show a tension between Judaism and the early church can be the words of Jesus.
    and
    2. The more proof the beter the chances are that it was the words of Jesus.
    Do they determine what the words of Jesus were when one and two correspond or when either one of two indicate it to be the words of Jesus?
    Just curious.

  2. Me...

    “Jesus preached a kingdom theolgy of inclusion.” Can someone explain this for me?

  3. pluim

    Dit beteken jy’s ook uitgenooi na die groot bruilof. Die vraag is of jy die uitnodiging aanvaar of nie. Of jy by die paartie gaan opdaag, en hoe?

  4. Muis

    I trust I will not (again) be hung out to dry if I agree that all research is not bad. Is it safe to say that we can examine all things and test everything, including Jesus? But as we are dealing with Him be careful not to cross the line?

  5. Me...

    Could you elaborate on what you mean when you ask: “Is it safe to say that we can examine all things and test everything, including Jesus? But as we are dealing with Him be careful not to cross the line?” Maybe you could us your view on the issue in order for us to understand better.

  6. Muis: I am of the opinion that the historical Jesus research is examining and testing what we know and believe about Jesus, and there is no pre-determined “off-limits” areas or opinions. That is the way I understand the research.

  7. Muis

    Al is dit rêrig ou nuus, bly dit bitter erg. My wederhelf het iemand ontmoet wat mense in die polisie ken, wat die mees onsmaaklike dinge oor die ma en pa van die beweerde moordenaar te vertel het. Of dit waar is of nie, ek wil nie deelneem aan die soort moddersmeerdery nie. Huis skoonmaak en seker maak dat die fondament in my eie huis reg gelê word is vir my prioritieit.

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