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A New Blog-site on Jesus

September 5, 2012

I quickly pass on notice of a new blog-site devoted to “historical Jesus” issues and managed by two young-and-coming scholars, Dr. Anthony LeDonne and Prof. Chris Keith:

Good luck to them in this venture! 

I’m off myself tomorrow to the annual meeting of the British New Testament Society, meeting in King’s College London, 6-8 September.  Some 160 registered will engage in discussion of papers and panel presentations on a variety of topics.  I’m taking part myself in a panel in the “Jesus” section that is devoted to current thoughts on the whole “historical Jesus” enterprise.

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  1. It is indeed a fascinating site, with articles about how the methods used by historical Jesus scholars are ‘altogether bankrupt’, have ‘severe shortcomings’ , although Anthony Ledonne thinks they ‘might’ continue to be useful.

    I’m sure they will continue to be useful. After all, Historical Jesus scholars are great experts and it is ludicrous to even suggest that the methods they use are ‘altogether bankrupt’

    • Steven: Two quick suggestions. (1) drop the sarcasm. You don’t do it well, and it isn’t becoming.
      (2) Read carefully the context in which these adjectives are used. The issue isn’t whether we can know anything about Jesus of Nazareth, it’s whether the particular kind of knowledge that many “historical” Jesus scholars have sought is attainable or even thought out adequately. The term “historical” Jesus has a particular connotation in the field: It = an attempt to arrive at a knowledge of Jesus that ignores and bypasses the interpretation of him that we find in our sources. The critique on the LeDonne/Keith blog site isn’t that we can’t know anything but that the way people have gone about it often is wrong-headed.

      • Wrong headed in what way? Wrong-headed because they are using the methods taught in Historical Jesus studies?

        And what other field of university research uses methods that scholars write books calling these methods ‘altogether bankrupt’?

        Name 3 other fields where people in the field themselves say the methods used are ‘altogether bankrupt’ and where other scholars say, wait a minute, these methods might turn out to be useful.

      • Dear Steven, I refer to the LeDonne/Keith site as criticizing what they regard as “wrong headed” historical Jesus studies, “wrong headed” for reasons they state and that others have cricized for decades now. E.g., the “criterion of dissimilarity”, which strictly used = only things that are distinguishable from the ancient Jewish context and from post-Jesus Christianity can be safely ascribed to Jesus. This criterion/approach has suffered serious criticism since the early 1970s (by Morna Hooker and others).
        In the recent British NT Conference (London), I gave a brief presentation on a panel of the state of “Historical Jesus” studies in which I pointed out that the whoe shebang commenced with an ideologically-driven effort by 18th century Deist thinkers to de-centre established Christianity by making the “historical” Jesus the criterion for the legitimacy of Christian beliefs about him. In this effort “historical” Jesus = what Jesus himself thought, sought, taught, etc. But, of course, the only sources we have are reports of Jesus by others. So all we have is what I have called the “public identity” Jesus, i.e., Jesus as known and reported on by others. So, methodologically the “historical” Jesus quests have always been dubious in trying to distinguish so confidently the one from the other.
        Moreover, when it comes to most other historic figures, their “public identity” is very much a part of what we say about them. E.g., Churchill, Napoleon, et alia.
        The “bankruptcy” of a lot (not all) modern “historical Jesus” studies, in short, arises often from the wrong-headed aims and assumptions, including particularly those inspired by the Deist project and more recent heirs and opponents.

  2. thanks Larry, happy travels!

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