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"To one degree or another, we all conform Jesus to our own image." Fantastic new book out on this very topic: Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos.
Excellent. Welcome home.
Historical Jesus studies don't do it for me any more therefore the discipline must be dead?
Note: Earthly pursuits have limit, do not provide evidence for things not seen. No mystical experiences in a dusty library, absent mushrooms. Academia is academic.
Would McKnight's Christian perspective be better served if he could remove all the historical flesh he has put on the spirit of orthodox Christ?
If you think not, then should we encourage more folks to pursue the historical Jesus rather than tell them it's passe?
I'm probably missing something. Thank you for the great article, Mr. McKnight.
What a strange article. Somehow you can sidestep all of the methodological issues about knowing Jesus, simply by conceptually shifting the object of your study from the "historical Jesus" to the "canonical Jesus"? Did that solution seem a bit easy when you first thought of it?
I mean, really, did you undergraduates project their personalities onto Jesus because that's a common thing for anyone to do, or because they had read 1 & 2 Maccabees and some Josephus? How does historical study make one particularly susceptible to this temptation?
The whole enterprise hearkens back to the 19th-century biblical commentaries that Mark Noll wrote about, which bragged that the authors had had no instruction in theology and the Bible.
J the H. C
"Cheeses age!" cries Donna Post.
those with a more adventurous curiosity and intellect might find this interesting:
however, if one is unwilling or unable to move beyond the sadly circular 'believe so you can know'; one probably needn't bother ..
I can understand in some ways the conclusion Scot reaches (my first exposure to Jesus Scholarship was to Rudolf Bultmann in a college class), however, it is hard to understand why he is so negative just when Jesus scholarship is getting exciting again. Perhaps Scot's expectations are just too high, as stated in the second to last sentence: "Faith cannot be completely based on what the historian can prove." Of course the quest to base faith completely on historical studies is doomed to fail. That might have been the quest of Bultmann and his generation, but it is not that of modern Jesus scholars. I think Wright, Bock and Keener are right: Modern Jesus scholarship provides a context for faith, not a substitute for it.
As the article states we all have our presuppositions about the text and the Jesus that we want to believe in. No scholar or layman ever has the last word. However each each perspective on the 'Historical Jesus' has its strengths and weaknesses but each one will never give us the total picture. This may be because the gospels were never intended to provide a comprehensive picture of Jesus that would allow us to formulate a complete historical portrait of him. John 21:25 The questions and motives of the gospel writers were different than our own.
Well done!Do people really believe history can offer more facts than God´s word?
I think at the most it can show different or additional angles, but God`s word is not to be questioned by us - or? Who do we think we are? Thanks God for the gift of faith and trust!
A great article on how we tend to fashion the "historical Jesus" after ourselves. But when we try to find the historical Jesus, are we essentially just trying to find the human personality of Jesus Christ based on deduction from history plus the gospel accounts? If that were the case then the search could be abandoned, but I wonder if the author here is writing this as a complaint from pure exhaustion. I think the historical Jesus runs deeper than just his personality or social skills.
Scott has neither thrown out historicity nor bowed down to it. Noting supposed "contradictory proof texts" to claim a lapse of memory from the HS merely reveals a shallow reading without context which ignores historical (and grammatical) context with no consideration for the Sitz im leben. Denying the general failure of the Quest for Historical Jesus movement is like denying the general failure of Soviet communism. Truth be told, the wall has come down.
The Jesus we *can* know is the Jesus pointed to in the scriptures but who can be met in prayer. Then, in prayer, we meet Jesus as person and as God and as Brother and as Lord. In prayer we speak with him and listen to him through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus. Then the mystery of the truth of Christian beginnings to the church is unveiled and we feel that we no longer have to rely on the ivory tower for our insights, but rather we retreat joyfully to the house of prayer and devotion.
Jesus established the law in a new light, that of son-ship and joint ownership with the Father. We are no longer under the law but in charge of it. But no one is above the law so we obey the law out of love for it and for the love of others. Not one of us then would hate the Father, hate our neighbor, steal, murder, commit adultery, desire someone else's property, not keep special sabbath time with God or lie about our neighbor to bring them into trouble. Unless we believed that we are unaccountable and above the law. Then we are not under the new covenant but under wrath.
Christianity vs churchianity
Jesus: “Do not think I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matt5:17).
Paul: “Christ.. by abolishing the law..” (Eph2:15). Oops!
Paul says.. “But now we are released from the Law.. we serve not under the old written code but under the new life of the Spirit” (Romans7:6). Compare this with “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law!” (Romans 3:31).
Jesus: “Beware of the leaven (teaching) of the Pharisees and Sadducees..” vs Paul’s claim “I am a Pharisee, a son (offspring) of Pharisees” (Acts23:6) [ Note the present tense ].
Acts 9 says Paul fell, and his companions stood. Acts 27 says they all fell. Acts 9 says the companions heard the voice, but Acts 22 says they didn’t hear the voice. You can also check the Greek wording - if this is inspired text by the Holy Spirit, it would imply that the HS had one or more lapses of memory..
Ancient heresies see the historical Jesus as 1) merely man or 2)infused with god or 3) only God and not also fully human but merely *appearing* human. How one sees Jesus, the historical Jesus depends on your correct guidance by the Holy Spirit. Just as the author of the article states.Jesus was fully human and fully God just as orthodoxy teaches us.
What I am reading and hearing is that research of any kind is a lot easier if one decides in advance what the answer is. Seems to make no difference what kind of research one does, whether scientific, religious, or otherwise.
May good observations; yet history is crucial, according to the New Testament authors (Luke 1, 1 John 1, etc.). The presence of divergent historical Jesus's does not preclude the possibility that some understandings are more accurate and useful than others. Perhaps the problem lies less in the quest for the historical Jesus than in isolating that quest from the real Jesus--who is very much alive yet today (as history strongly attests and faith affirms), eager to guide both our study of his incarnational life and our anticipation of meeting him face to face when we share in his resurrection. Thanks for making me think, and for affirming the necessity of faith.
With imbeciles like this teaching in seminaries, is it any wonder that that the church is in almost totally apostasy? I’m thankful that I was spared this kind of “education” because I can still rely on the scriptures to tell me who Jesus was and is – my savior, and the one who will someday judge the incompetents who write this kind of drivel.
Candid and refreshing. I deeply appreciate McKnight's reaffirmation of faith's centrality to embracing the Jesus who is the focus of our very being as we dwell in and work for the fulfillment of God's universal reign. Thank you, Scot.
How could scholarly attempts to discover the 'real' Jesus, viz.: the "firstborn from the dead" (John 8: 21-32; 14: 15-21; 19: 30-37) not fail!? They were barking the wrong tree.
I absolutely agree with this author's concluding statements. At the same time, I find it encouraging that some scholars, such as this author, on the basis of what they take to be the historical evidence, still come to the conclusion that the historical Jesus himself apparently believed his death would have atoning significance. Now, Jesus' believing that does not make it true: He probably believed as well that the earth was flat and stationary, that the universe and all forms of life were created a few thousands years before his birth and would end soon -- within that generation -- and that Moses authored the Pentateuch. Still, I enjoy the fact that it is the view of some that historical research does not necessarily rule out, and indeed can support, the view that Jesus went to the cross believing his death would be efficacious for Israel and the world.
I enjoyed this article greatly, having done some studying in "the ways that never parted" (Jewish-Christian relations). I would only add that it is not only the historical method that cannot "prove" that Jesus died for our sins. Nothing can "prove" this, in much way that parents can never "prove" their love to a child. They can demonstrate what looks like love again and again and again, but that is not proof. There is always room for doubt. Faith brought about by grace remains just that.
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