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Title: THE JESUS SEMINAR AND HIGHER CRITICISM


1
THE JESUS SEMINAR AND HIGHER CRITICISM
RADICAL
  • By
  • Glenn Giles
  • December, 2009

2
BIBLICAL CRITICISM What is it?
  • LOWER CRITICISM TEXTUAL CRIT.
  • HIGHER CRITICISM LITERARY ANALYSIS DEALING WITH
    AUTHORSHIP, DATE, AND LITERARY COMPOSITION
  • TYPES OF HIGHER CRITICISM
  • 1. SOURCE
  • 2. FORM
  • 3. REDACTION
  • 4. NARRATIVE
  • 5. RHETORICAL
  • 6. SOCIO-HISTORICAL

3
JESUS SEMINAR
  • Is an example of RADICAL higher criticism,
    criticism that is highly skeptical of the
    historical accuracy and authenticity of the
    Bible. Not all higher criticism is radical
  • Most scholars who engage in higher criticism
    today do not go to the extremes of the Jesus
    Seminar in its findings and presuppositions

4
THE JESUS SEMINAR
  • SET UP UNDER THE AUSPICES OF ROBERT FUNKS
    WESTAR INSTITUTE IN SONOMA, CA IN 1985
  • SCHOLARS (FELLOWS) NUMBER AROUND 200 WITH ONLY
    ABOUT 40 ACTUALLY WRITING, MEETING REGULARLY, AND
    VOTING
  • THE SEMINAR WAS CO-CHAIRED BY ROBERT FUNK (FORMER
    PROFESSOR OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES AT THE UNIVERSITY
    OF MONTANA, NOW DECEASED) AND JOHN DOMINIC
    CROSSAN OF DEPAUL UNIVERSITY

5
PROJECTS OF THE WESTAR INSTITUTE
  • The Jesus Seminar (finding the authentic words
    and deeds of Jesus)
  • The Paul Seminar (study of the authenticity and
    integrity of the Pauline letters)
  • The Canon Seminar (debating which early Christian
    works canonical and non-canonical should be in
    the New Testament)
  • Acts Seminar (finding the historical authenticity
    of the Acts of the Apostles)

6
THE JESUS SEMINAR REPRESENTATION
  • Represents the radical left fringe of biblical
    criticism.
  • Mostly doctoral graduates of schools who tend to
    practice a more radical form of higher criticism.
  • These schools include Harvard, Claremont,
    Vanderbilt, Chicago, Union Theological Seminary
  • Luke Johnson states that it does not, represent
    anything like a consensus view of scholars
    working in the New Testament, but only the views
    of a group that has beenfor all its
    protestations of diversityself-selected on the
    basis of prior agreement concerning the
    appropriate goals and methods for studying the
    Gospels and the figure of Jesus (The Real Jesus,
    2)

7
THE JESUS SEMINAR STATED AGGENDA
  • TO DISCOVER AND REPORT A SCHOLARLY CONSENSUS ON
    THE HISTORICAL AUTHENTICITY OF THE SAYINGS AND
    EVENTS ATTRIBUTED TO JESUS IN THE GOSPEL
    (www.westarinstitute.org)
  • TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC THROUGH THE MEDIA TO HELP
    THE MODERN INQUIRER LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
    THE IMAGINED WORLD AND THE REAL WORLD OF HUMAN
    EXPERIENCE WITH RESPECT TO JESUS (The Five
    Gospels (5G), 2)

8
JESUS SEMINAR AND THE REAL JESUS ASSUMPTION
  • To know the truth about Jesus, the real Jesus,
    one had to find the Jesus of history. The refuge
    offered by the cloistered precincts of faith
    gradually became a battered and beleaguered
    position. In the wake of the Enlightenment,
    biblical scholars rose to the challenge and
    launched a tumultuous search for the Jesus behind
    the Christian façade of the Christ 5G, 40
  • The real Jesus has been covered up by the church.
    Now these scholars are going to free him from the
    faith captivity.

9
JESUS SEMINAR FINDINGS
  • Eighty-two percent of the words ascribed to
    Jesus in the gospels were not actually spoken by
    him 5G, 5.
  • Results published in The Five Gospels The Search
    for the Authentic Words of Jesus
  • For an analysis of his authentic acts, see The
    Jesus Seminars The Acts of Jesus The Search for
    the Authentic Deeds of Jesus.

10
JESUS SEMINAR PROCEDURE
  • Scholars apply their methodology and then vote
    with colored beads on the authenticity of each
    word attributed to Jesus by the gospel writers
  • The gospels evaluated include
  • The 4 Canonical Gospels and
  • The Gospel of Thomas
  • Hence the title of the book The Five Gospels

11
COLORED BEAD VOTING PROCEDURE AND OPTION 1
  • Red Jesus undoubtedly said this or something
    very like it
  • Pink Jesus probably said something like this.
  • Gray Jesus did not say this, but the ideas
    contained in it are close to his own
  • Black Jesus did not day this it represents the
    perspective or content of a later or different
    tradition

12
VOTING OPTION 2
  • Red I would include this item unequivocally in
    the database for determining who Jesus was
  • Pink I would include this item with reservations
    (or modifications) in the database
  • Gray I would not include this item in the
    database, but I might make use of some of the
    content in determining who Jesus was
  • Black I would not include this item in the
    primary database.

13
VOTING OPTION 3
  • Red Thats Jesus!
  • Pink Sure sounds like Jesus
  • Gray Well, maybe
  • Black Theres been some mistake.

14
CALCULATING THE VOTES WEIGHTED AVERAGE
  • Red gets 3 points
  • Pink gets 2 points
  • Gray gets 1 point
  • Black gets 0 points
  • Points were added up and then divided by the
    number of votes and converted to a percentage
    vote based on a one point scale

15
THE BREAKDOWN OF THE ONE POINT SCALE
  • Red .7501 and up
  • Pink .5001-.7500
  • Gray .2501-.5000
  • Black .0000-.2500

16
AN EXAMPLE THE LORDS PRAYER Luke 112-4
  • When you pray, you should say
  • Father, your name be revered.
  • Impose your imperial rule.
  • Provide us with the bread we need day by day
  • Forgive our sins, since we too forgive everyone
    in debt to us
  • And please dont subject us to test after test.
  • (5G, 325, cf. Mt. version, 148)

17
THE HISTORY OF THE QUESTS FOR THE HISTORICAL JESUS
  • The First Quest 1778-1906
  • Began with Hermann Samuel Reimarus Fragments by
    an Anonymous Writer (1778). Pub. by Lessing.
  • D. F. Strauss, The Life of Jesus Critically
    Examined (1835). Introduced the concept of myth
    is anything legendary or supernatural (5G, 3).
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) The Life and Morals
    of Jesus of Nazareth (first published, 1904). He
    took scissors and paste to the Gospels, cutting
    out the supernatural elements.
  • Separation of the Christ of Faith from the
    Historical Jesus was thus was under way. Who is
    the real historical Jesus? What should be cut out
    of the gospels to find him?

18
THE FIRST QUEST CONTINUED
  • Many Jesuses are proposed as the true historical
    Jesus from Reimarus to Wrede and Schweitzer.
  • William Wrede, The Messianic Secret in Mark
    (1901). Thorough-going skeptic who claimed we
    could know very little about the Historical
    Jesus. Jesus was only a Galilean teacher or
    prophet who did some striking things and was
    eventually executed (N. T Wright, Jesus and the
    victory of God, 20)

19
FIRST QUEST CONCLUDED
  • Albert Schweitzers Quest for the Historical
    Jesus A Critical Study of its Progress from
    Reimarus to Wrede German ed. 1906 marked the end
    of the first quest. He discusses the various
    Jesuses found during the first quest.
  • He saw a thoroughly eschatological Jesus in the
    gospels depicting a Jesus who proclaimed the
    kingdom of God but died disappointedly when that
    eschatological kingdom did not come. Hence Jesus,
    for him, was merely a Jewish apocalyptic
    prophet.

20
THE NO QUEST PERIOD
  • 1906-1953
  • Historical Jesus not considered important
  • Focus is on the Christ of Faith
  • Barth and Bultmann and Neo-orthodoxy are key
    figures. Faith is not based in history.
  • Bultmann felt very little could be known about
    the historical Jesus and that finding him was not
    important
  • History has nothing to do with faith.

21
THE NEW OR SECOND QUEST 1953-1980
  • 1953 Second Quest began when Bultmanns student
    Ernst Kasemann proposed a New Quest for the
    historical Jesus.
  • Felt that history did have something to do with
    faith so sought again to find the historical
    Jesus
  • Added very little to what the first quest found
    as it used similar principles and
    presuppositions.
  • It remained in the shackles of Form Criticism
    which was designed to discover the early church,
    not Jesus himself (N. T. Wright, Jesus and the
    Victory of God, 24)

22
THE THIRD QUEST 1980-PRESENT
  • Many Scholars advance plausible arguments for
    accepting the historical reliability of Mt., Mk,
    and Lk
  • Attempt to do history seriously, no home-made
    criteria, Form Criticism is being bypassed. Using
    method of hypothesis and verification.
    Narratives not small units of material are
    investigated. Not as concerned about
    reconstruction of traditions which dissects the
    gospels
  • Places Jesus within first century Judaism, allows
    him to be Jewish
  • Has a positive approach to the historicity of the
    gospels
  • But still falls short of the position of orthodox
    theologians and Evangelicals as it does not
    affirm Jesus as wholly man and wholly God on
    the basis of historical research. (Craig
    Blomberg, Jesus Under Fire, 27-28)

23
THE JESUS SEMINAR 1985 TO PRESENT
  • Jesus Seminar seems to best fit into the Second
    Quest, I.e., it is a Revived New or Second
    Quest.
  • It is different from the Third Quest in that it
    has a very negative view of historicity of the
    gospels presentation of Jesus
  • It drinks heavily from the post-Bultmannian
    tradition taking on that traditions critical
    and Form Critical assumptions

24
THREE DOMINANT VIEWS OF THE HISTORICAL JESUS
FOUND IN THE SECOND QUEST
  • Jesus the Social Revolutionary, a countercultural
    social prophet who resocialized people, a social
    critic, a culture-denying Jewish Cynic peasant.
    He sought ways to better society.
  • Jesus the Religious Genius, one who prayed,
    fasted, had visions, a holy man, sacred person, a
    spirit person with an imminent eschatological
    enthusiast with a belief in the coming of the
    Kingdom of God. One who warned of judgment,
    ethics, belief in God. But one who is not
    relevant for us today.
  • Jesus the Sage
  • This last one is the stance of the Jesus Seminar
  • (These three views come from Scot McKnight in
    Jesus Under Fire, 56-57)

25
JESUS SEMINAR WORLDVIEW ROOTS
  • Enlightenment, Age of Reason, Everything can be
    explained through natural scientific means. All
    so-called miracles have a natural cause or were
    made up by people as they cannot happen naturally
  • Deism Dominant religion of the day. A religion
    of the clockwork universe
  • God initially created the world as a First Cause
  • Then left it to run on its own under natural law
  • No supernatural transcendent intervention is
    possible I.e., no supernatural working in
    history. No incarnation possible.
  • Jesus Seminar operates from an naturalistic WV

26
JESUS SEMINAR STATEMENT
  • The Christ of creed and dogma, who had been
    firmly in place in the Middle Ages, can no longer
    command the assent of those who have seen the
    heavens through Galileos telescope. The old
    deities and demons were swept from the skies by
    that remarkable glass. Copernicus, Kepler, and
    Galileo have dismantled the mythological abodes
    of the gods and Satan and bequeathed us secular
    heavens 5G, 2.

27
JESUS SEMINAR WV CONTINUED
  • To be historical, to be authentic, everything
    must pass through this presuppositional
    scientific naturalistic sieve
  • No walking on water
  • No miraculous catch of fish
  • No transfiguration
  • No resurrection
  • No resurrection appearances

28
JESUS SEMINAR WV CONT.
  • No postmortem statements or predictions of events
    are real
  • Funk and Hoover and the Jesus Seminar state
  • Whenever scholars detect detailed knowledge of
    postmortem events in sayings and parables
    attribute to Jesus, they are inclined to the view
    that the formulation of such sayings took place
    after the fact. 5G, 25.
  • E.g., Mk. 135-13 and Jesus detailed prediction
    of the destruction of Jerusalem is colored
    black.(5G, 109-110)

29
JESUS SEMINAR ASSUMPTIONS 1 A NATURALISTIC
WORLD VIEW
  • Gods working in history supernaturally is locked
    out
  • The terms real and historical have been
    loaded with meaning that excludes the
    supernatural as part of reality or true
    history
  • Hence, if the real historical Jesus is
    supernatural and incarnational, the Jesus Seminar
    would be a priori unable to find him.
  • Problem There are well documented contemporary
    works on the validity of being open to the
    supernatural. Hence this narrow worldview should
    be questioned from the start (see p. 8 note 56 of
    my paper).

30
ASSUMPTION 2 THE CHRIST OF FAITH IS NOT THE
JESUS OF HISTORY
  • Seminar Statements
  • The authors of traditional Christian faith are
    Peter and Paul The Acts of Jesus, 534.
  • The church appears to smother the historical
    Jesus by superimposing this heavenly figure on
    him in the creed Jesus is displaced by the
    Christ, as the so-called Apostles Creed makes
    evident 5G, 7

31
Sage
32
Jesus as God
Jesus as the Son of God
Jesus Resurrection
Jesus Predictions of the Future
Virgin Birth
Supernatural Healing of Blind and Lame
Calming of the Storm
Miraculous Catching of Fish
Transfiguration
Walks On Water
Sage
33
Jesus as God
Jesus as the Son of God
Jesus Resurrection
Jesus Predictions of the Future
Virgin Birth
Supernatural Healing of Blind and Lame
Calming of the Storm
Miraculous Catching of Fish
Transfiguration
Walks On Water
Sage
34
J S Rules for Finding Jesus Words Find the
creations of the Gospel writers and early
Christians and delete them
  • Evangelists (the gospel writers) group sayings
    and parables in clusters and complexes that did
    not originate with Jesus.
  • E.g., the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 are said not to
    have been originally grouped by Jesus as they are
    now. Rather Matthew grouped them and created a
    setting for them (e.g., the Sermon on the Mount).

35
J S RULES FINDING GOSPEL WRITERS CREATIONS
  • Evangelists relocate sayings and parables or
    invent new narrative contexts for them
  • E.g., Mark 223-28 Son of Man is Lord of the
    Sabbath. Here the disciples are criticized about
    harvesting grain in the Sabbath. The Seminar
    believes that the criticism was originally
    directed toward Jesus and that only after Jesus
    death would his disciples be criticized. Hence
    the Mark puts this in a new context.
  • In addition, Mark has Jesus quote Scripture as a
    proof text to legitimate the belief that
    Jesus had authority over the Sabbath. J S says,
    Jesus followers were inclined to adopt and
    adapt his words to their own needs. (5G, 21)

36
J S RULES FINDING GOSPEL WRITERS CREATIONS
  • Evang. expand sayings or parables or provide them
    with an interpretative overlay
  • Evang. revise or edit sayings to make them
    conform to their own individual language, style,
    or viewpoint
  • E.g., Mark 219-20 and the issue of fasting.
  • The grooms friends cant fast while the groom is
    present, can they? . . . But the days will come
    when the groom is taken away from them, and then
    they will fast
  • This black addition justifies the Christian
    renewal of the Jewish practice of fasting even
    though Jesus and his disciples did not fast (5G,
    22)

37
J S Rules Finding Gospel Writers Creations
  • Evangelists attribute their own statements to
    Jesus
  • E.g., Mark 115. Mark summarizes here what he
    takes to be Jesus proclaimation (5G, 23) The
    following is in Marks words, not Jesus The
    time is up Gods imperial rule is closing in.
    Change your ways, and put your trust in the good
    news. For J S, Jesus was not an apocalyptic
    prophet
  • Hard sayings are softened and adapted to daily
    living situations
  • E.g., Matt. 2016, The last will be first and
    the first last
  • is softened in Mark 1031 to Many of the first
    will be last, and of the last many will be first.

38
J S Rules Finding Gospel Writers Creations
  • Words borrowed from common lore or Greek
    Scriptures are put on the lips of Jesus. He did
    not quote from the OT as that was put on his lips
    later by the Christians. So all quotes by Jesus
    of the OT are suspect.
  • E.g., Matt. 913 and Jesus quote of Hosea, Go
    and learn what this means, Its mercy I desire
    instead of sacrifice.
  • Sayings and parables expressed in Christian
    language are the creation of the evang. or
    Christian predecessors
  • E.g., Mark 931 The son of Adam is being turned
    over to his enemies, and they will end up killing
    him. And three days afterhe is killed he will
    rise! reflects Pauls oral Christian tradition
    stated in I Cor. 153-5, Christ died for our
    sins according to the scriptures, and was buried,
    and rose up on the third day according to the
    scriptures. The Mark saying thus originated with
    early Christians or Paul and not Jesus.

39
J S Rules Finding Gospel Writers Creations
  • The Christian community develops apologetic
    statements to defend its claims and sometimes
    attributes such statements to Jesus. The
    Christians made Jesus affirm what they
    themselves had come to believe (5G, 24)
  • E.g., Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ and
    Jesus says,
  • You are to be congratulated, Simon son of
    Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal
    this to you but my Father who is in heaven
  • Sayings and narratives that reflect knowledge of
    events that took place after Jesus death are the
    creation of the evang. or oral tradition.
  • E.g., the little apocalypse of Mark 135-37 which
    reflects knowledge of the later Roman siege of
    Jerusalem in 66-70 AD.

40
Results of the Assumption that the Christ of
Faith is not the Historical Jesus
  • Jesus could not have foretold things that
    happened after his death, so those words are axed
  • Anything that looks like the Christ of Faith and
    creed of the early church is removed
  • Anything on the lips of Jesus that would defend
    the early Christian belief is cut out
  • Anything that looks like an apologetic or view of
    the particular evang. is not authentic.
  • Anything supernatural about Jesus is removed
  • Jesus did not resurrect from the dead.

41
The Implausibility of this Assumption
  • Without a resurrection showing Jesus power over
    death there is not a necessary and sufficient
    cause for the birth of Christianity
  • Pauls early oral tradition testimony about Jesus
    resurrection contradicts this (I Cor. 153-5).
    Jesus is said to have resurrected and thus the
    Jesus of History is the Christ of Faith.
  • There is insufficient time for the embellishment
    of a Christ of Faith in only 25-30 years from his
    death to the writing of the gospels. Note the
    following statement by Craig

42
Implausibility Continued
  • . . . the temporal and geographical distance
    between the events and the accounts is
    insufficient to allow for such extensive
    development . . . even two generations are too
    short a span to allow the mythical tendency to
    prevail over the hard historic core of oral
    tradition (Craig, Jesus Under Fire, 154, based
    on a study in classical historiography on the
    writings of Herodotus by A. N. Sherwin-White
    which tested the tempo of myth-making)
  • My personal experience with this view point in
    Julian Hills class, Marquette Univ. I could not
    divorce history from faith and be real. My faith
    would then indeed be an imaginative construct.

43
Implausibility Continued
  • Living eye-witnesses would have functioned as a
    strong control against the development of a
    Christ of Faith in contrast to a mere human Jesus
    of Nazareth.
  • A proclamation of Jesus resurrection would have
    fallen on deaf ears had it not happened because
    (1) the Jews believed in a resurrection at the
    end of history not the middle and (2) their
    belief in the resurrection was a general one
    involving all people not an isolated
    individual.
  • No evidence that the Apostles or the other
    followers of Jesus would have made the
    resurrection up. They were amazed and dumbfounded
    at it!
  • No evidence in early Christian lit. that the
    early church created the Christ of Faith. Rather
    they depended on eyewitnesses. (Richard Bauckman,
    Jesus and the EyewitnessesThe Gospels as
    Eyewitness Testimony, (Grand Rapids Eerdmans,
    2006), 293-297).

44
Assumption 3 Jesus is a Laconic Sage, a Wise
Ancient Near-East Teacher
  • The Jesus of the gospels is an imaginative
    theological construct, into which has been woven
    traces of that enigmatic sage from
    Nazarethtraces that cry out for recognition and
    liberation from the firm grip of those whose
    faith overpowered their memories. The search for
    the authentic words of Jesus is a search for the
    forgotten Jesus (5G, 4)
  • Thus, the search for the authentic words of Jesus
    is a search for the elements of Jesus the sage,
    which is presupposed to be the real Jesus.

45
So to find Jesus, one searches for the Sage. He
is
  • Slow to speech
  • A person who does not provoke encounters
  • Self-effacing, modest, unostentatious, not vain
    glorious
  • Rules of the Jesus Seminar
  • 1. Jesus does not as a rule initiate dialogue
    or debate, nor does he offer to cure people
    (e.g., Mk. 1235-36 How can the scholars claim
    that the Anointed is the son of David?)
  • 2. Jesus rarely makes pronouncements or speaks
    about himself in the first person (i.e., the I
    am statements in John are black, e.g.,I am the
    way, the truth, and . . .)
  • 3. Jesus makes no claim to be the Anointed
    Messiah (Mk. 1462 is black, Are you the
    Anointed . . ., Jesus replied, I am! And you
    shall see the Son of Adam sitting at the right
    hand of Power and coming with the clouds of the
    sky!) (Scholars version, 5G, 122)

46
Problems limiting Jesus to a Sage
  • Many scholars dispute this claim. Even Jesus
    Seminar members disagree among themselves
    (Crossan says he is a Cynic)
  • Jesus as a sage would not have been threatening
    to the Jews or the Romans. Thus no reason for him
    to be flogged or crucified (two events that the
    Jesus Seminar says are historical).
  • . . . such a Jesus would never have been
    crucified, would never have drawn the fire that
    he did, would never have commanded the following
    that he did, and would never have created a
    movement that still shakes the world (Scot
    McKnight, Jesus under Fire, 61)
  • One must ignore all the other claims in the
    Gospels (and outside the gospels) about Jesus and
    who he was.

47
4 FORM CRITICAL RULES OF ORAL TRANSMISSION
  • Rule 1 Oral memory best retains sayings and
    anecdotes that are short, provocative,
    memorableand oft-repeated
  • Rule 2 The most frequently recorded words of
    Jesus in the surviving gospels take the form of
    aphorisms (terse, concise, and elegantly
    formulations of truths or sentiments) and
    parables
  • Rule 3 The earliest layer of the gospel
    tradition is made up of single aphorisms

48
RESULTS OF THESE RULES
  • The Seminar rejected the following words as
    authentic because there is nothing aphoristic,
    or memorable, about the words (5G, 121)
  • Have you come out to take me with swords and
    clubs as though you were apprehending a rebel? I
    was with you in the temple area day after day
    teaching and you didnt lift a hand against me.
    But the scriptures must come true! Mk. 1448-49
    (Scholars Version, 5G, 121)

49
FURTHER ORAL TRANSMISSION ASSUMPTION
  • The Seminar sees early oral transmission of
    Jesus words as informal, uncontrolled,
    anonymous, non-individual but community derived,
    and without historical consciousness that would
    require them to care about the distinction
    between the pre- and post-Easter Jesus (i.e.,
    there seems to be NO importance attached to the
    possibility of eyewitness control of the words of
    Jesus). (Bauckham, 245).This is in line with most
    radical form critics and their view of the
    fluidity and community of tradition (Bauckham,
    241-252)

50
STORY TELLER LISCENSE ASSUMPTION OF ORAL TRANS.
  • We know that the evangelists not infrequently
    ascribed Christian words to Jesusthey made him
    talk like a Christian, when, in fact he was only
    the precursor of the movement that was to take
    him as its cultic hero . . . Story tellers in
    every age freely invent words for characters in
    their stories. This is the storytellers license
    . . . The evangelists functioned no differently
    than other storytellers . . . (Emphasis mine,
    5G, 29-30)
  • Really? Can you be so sure?

51
ORAL TRANSMISSION CRITIQUE
  • In first-century Jewish society, memorization was
    very important. Oral teaching was controlled
    and there was a desire for it to be accurate.
    (See Birger Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscript,
    Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, and Craig,
    Blomberg, Historical Reliability of the Gospels).
  • It was a culture of memory (Bock, Jesus Under
    Fire, 80)
  • NT shows indeed there is a concern for history.
    E.g., Stephens speech in Acts 7 and Lukes
    statement in Lk. 11-4
  • Living eyewitnesses, including the Apostles,
    would have functioned to preserve the accuracy of
    Jesus words.
  • The time was too short between Jesus death and
    the writing of the gospels for the extensive
    development assumed

52
THE JESUS OF HISTORY SO FAR
  • Non-supernatural, no predictive words, no
    miracles
  • Non-Christ of Faith, not Lord, not Son of God
  • Only a Sage
  • Speaks only in parables and short, pithy,
    provocative, memorable, single aphorisms
  • Slow to speech, person of few words
  • Does not provoke encounters, does not initiate
    dialogue or debate
  • Makes no claim to be the Messiah
  • Does not speak about himself in the first person

53
5 CRITERIA OF DISSIMILARITY HOW TO TELL JESUS
DISTINCTIVE VOICE
  • Different from common lore
  • His sayings cut against the social and religious
    grain
  • His sayings surprise and shock, they call for a
    reversal of roles or frustrate ordinary,
    everyday expectations
  • His sayings are characterized by exaggeration,
    humor, and paradox
  • His images are concrete and vivid, his sayings
    are . . . metaphorical and without explicit
    application(5G, 30-32)

54
PROBLEM WITH THIS CRITERIA
  • It only can determine Jesus unique words and
    actions
  • Thus the real Jesus becomes defined only by his
    uniqueness. Many, if not much, of his real words
    and actions would then be excluded.
  • Combined with the Christ of Faith exclusion, it
    forces one to make Jesus dissimilar with both the
    early church and his Jewish culture!

55
WITH THIS CRITERIA, JESUS BECOMES
  • a decidedly odd figure, totally detached from
    his cultural heritage and ideologically estranged
    from the movement he is responsible for founding
    . . . He becomes an eccentric if only that which
    makes him different is regarded as authentic. The
    criterion may help us understand where Jesus
    teaching is exceptional, but it can never give us
    the essential Jesus (Bock, Jesus Under Fire, 91)

56
6 BURDEN OF PROOF REVERSAL GOSPELS ARE ASSUMED
TO BE GUILTY
  • The Seminar requires that the words of Jesus
    reported in the gospels be shown to be
    authentic through the Seminars criteria instead
    of assuming them to be true until shown otherwise
  • This is a reversal of the normal approach to
    history
  • The gospels are assumed guilty from the start

57
THE SEMINAR AND NORMAL HISTORY
  • The current assumption is more nearly the
    opposite and indicates how far scholarship has
    come since Strauss the gospels are now assumed
    to be narratives in which the memory of Jesus is
    embellished by mythic elements that express the
    churchs faith in him, and by plausible fictions
    that enhance the telling of the gospel story for
    first-century listeners who knew about divine men
    and miracles first hand. Supposedly historical
    elements in these narratives therefore must be
    demonstrated to be so. The Jesus Seminar has
    accordingly assumed the burden of proof . . .
    (5G, 4-5)

58
CRITIQUE OF REVERSAL
  • It is not the normal way to do history
  • If we were to apply such standards to other
    documents, whole shelves of ancient history would
    have to be excluded (Bock, 90)
  • Guilty before innocent stance is against the
    grain of contemporary historical and Biblical
    scholarship. (Robert Kurka, unpublished paper, A
    Jesus We Have Never Known, 10)
  • It is based on the dubious assumption that the
    early church created the Christ of Faith

59
THE DUBIOUS PROCEEDURE
  • The Seminar sets up highly debatable rules,
    assumptions, and criteria that find their already
    predetermined vision of Jesus. With all these
    criteria, how could they find any other Jesus?
  • The Seminar in the end violates its own final
    general rule which states, Beware of finding a
    Jesus entirely congenial to you (5G, 5) They
    indeed find a predetermined Jesus sage congenial
    to them.

60
7 THE GNOSTIC GOSPEL OF THOMAS ASSUMPTION
  • Canonical boundaries rule
  • The Seminar states, Canonical boundaries are
    irrelevant in critical assessments of the various
    sources of information about Jesus (5G, 35)
  • The Seminar thus says that all surviving gospels
    should be included as sources cutting off at 325
    when the orthodox party solidified its hold on
    the Christian tradition and other wings of the
    Christian movement were choked off (5G, 35.)
  • The Seminar sets up the Gospel of Thomas as a
    valid source by constructing a hypothetical early
    edition of Thomas dated 50-60 AD
  • The Seminar Gospel Sources are understood as
    follows

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62
SEMINAR INCONSISTENCY
  • It only considers for evaluation the Gospel of
    Thomas
  • It does mention the Egerton Gospel and the Secret
    Gospel of Mark but does not evaluate them much
  • It does not pay attention to the Gospel of Peter,
    the Gospel of Mary, or the other non-canonical
    gospels

63
SEMINAR ASSUMPTION
  • Excludes these other gospels seemingly because it
    assumes that present knowledge of what Jesus
    said rests mostly on the evidence provided by
    hypothetical Q, hypothetical L, hypothetical M,
    Mark and Thomas(5G, 16)
  • The extant Gospel of Thomas (dating in the late
    2nd century AD) has an earlier edition to be
    dated with Q around 50-60 AD
  • This would give the Seminar a second witness
    (with hypothetical Q) of a sayings only gospel in
    the first century, a gospel void of the passion
    narrative, thus bolstering its position that the
    earliest remembered sayings were without
    narrative setting and thus created by the
    canonical gospel authors and the Christian
    community

64
PROBLEMS WITH THOMAS
  • While almost all scholars concede that Thomas
    could have been composed as early as the middle
    of the second century, the evidence strongly
    suggests that Thomas was not composed before A.D.
    175-180. (Evans, Fabricating Jesus,67)
  • Thomas quotes or alludes to Mk., Lk., John, Paul,
    Revelation and so could not have been written
    before them (Evans, Fabricating Jesus, 67-77)

65
THOMAS PROBLEMS CONT.
  • Thomas reflects what more liberal scholars call
    late gospel material and later gospel editing
    which would make Thomas influenced by the New
    Testament Gospels not the other way around
  • Thomas shows familiarity with late traditions
    distinctive to Eastern Syrian Christianity which
    would argue for a late 2nd century date. (for
    both of these, see Evans, Fabricating Jesus,
    67-77)
  • Hence, there is no real support for an early
    Thomas and thus no good justification with making
    this gospel a source for the authentic words of
    Jesus.
  • Interestingly, only 3 sections in the Gospel of
    Thomas are colored red (36 are pink) by the
    Seminar. Can this sayings gospel written down
    within 20 years of Jesus death have changed that
    much? Arent these supposed to be more stable?

66
THE POSTMODERN GARB OF THE JESUS SEMINAR
  • Postmodern characteristics and themes
  • Western cultures way of understanding history is
    now to be questioned and rewritten
  • Western metanarratives (e.g., the Bible) are now
    to be questioned. No one value system is to be
    allowed. No universal truth is to be tolerated as
    it is bias and bigoted
  • Knowledge, authority, and values are up for
    grabs, all authorities are to be placed on the
    same authority level as everyone else.

67
POSTMODERN GARB CONTINUED
  • Intentional deconstruction of traditional
    standards, and standards of authority, as well as
    standard texts (e.g., the Bible) is the call of
    the hour. When deconstructed, every text has many
    meanings determined by ones own sociocultural
    situation. There is no one true meaning.
  • Reality is in the mind of the beholder which is
    conditioned by his own environment

68
POSTMODERNISM GARB CONT.
  • Truth does not come from any God in heaven but is
    constructed by the persons own life situation.
    Each person along with its own society creates
    truth. There is no objective authoritative
    foundation of Scripture, creeds and confessions,
    and ecclesiastical tradition.
  • No one should be marginalized. The marginalized
    must be freed from oppression and exploitation
  • A strong anti-Enlightenment stance. Rejection of
    the Wests universal intellectual terrorism
  • (From Daniel Adams, Toward a Theological
    Understanding of Postmodernism, at
    www.crosscurrents.org/adams.htm)

69
THE SEMINARS POSTMODERN GARB
  • The Seminars own life situation or Sitz Im
    Leben, (i.e., its own radical higher critical
    environment and presuppositions) creates its own
    truth about Jesus
  • The Seminar feels a need to justify its own
    belief system and refuses to be marginalized or
    suppressed. The Seminar is crying out for the
    acceptance of their position (see 5G, 1ff) which
    has been suppressed by the fundamentalists and
    orthodox theologians too long. It is time for
    their freedom!

70
POSTMODERN GARB
  • The Seminar uses postmodern terms when it says it
    sees the Christ of the Gospels as an imaginative
    theological construct (5G, 4) The Seminar
    believes the early church created the Christ of
    Faith out of its desire (need) to justify Jesus
    divinity and deal with his death. So the early
    church rewrote history to fit their theological
    construct. Hence the early church engaged in
    postmodernism. The Seminar is blind to seeing
    that they are doing the same thing that they are
    accusing the early church of doing rewriting
    history according to their own theological
    construct!

71
POSTMODERN GARB
  • The gospel texts are deconstructed by the
    Seminar. This allows them to create the Jesus
    they want to find.
  • The Seminar undermines the authoritative
    canonical status of the Four Gospels to include
    the Gospel of Thomas which seems to be given a
    higher status (with Q) than the canonical
    gospels. The exclusive authority of the four NT
    gospels is dethroned.

72
POSTMODERN GARB
  • The fairness or non-marginalizing principle
    is followed in the voting and scoring system so
    each Fellows vote would count.
  • Hence fairness is used to determine truth.
  • There is to be no one marginalized.
  • The Seminar states

73
POSTMODERN GARB
  • This system seemed superior to a system that
    relied on majorities or pluralities of one type
    or another. In a system that made the dividing
    line between pink and gray a simple majority,
    nearly half of the Fellows would lose their vote.
    There would only be winners and losers. Under
    weighted averages, all votes would count in the
    averages. Black votes in particular could
    readily pull an average down . . . Yet this
    shortcoming seemed consonant with the
    methodological skepticism that was a working
    principle of the Seminar when in sufficient
    doubt, leave it out (5G, 37.)

74
GARB PROBLEMS
  • The fairness principle worked to marginalize
    the majority at times. E.g., for Mt. 66a When
    you pray, go into a room by your self and shut
    the door behind you, 58 of the scholars voted
    (red or pink) to attribute it to Jesus. But 27
    colored it black. It ended up gray and thus not
    true words of Jesus. Problem the majority was
    marginalized. (See 5G, 148).
  • Similarly Mt. 622-23 and 1116-19. (See 5G, 151,
    180).

75
GARB PROBLEMS
  • When thoroughly followed, each generations Jesus
    is to be and should be created in its own image
    according to its own particular needs, visions,
    and programs. So the Jesus Seminar would be
    justified in their conclusions too. But is this
    really what they want or teach?
  • The Seminar states that it embraces Enlightenment
    principles at its foundation, but it dresses it
    and modifies it in postmodern garb seemingly in
    hope of gaining public acceptance of its view of
    the historical Jesus. Which will it be?
    Enlightenment principles or Postmodern
    principles? If Postmodern, then their view of
    Jesus is no more true than anyone elses. So
    why the polemic against conservative and other
    views? If Enlightenment, why the post-modern
    garb?

76
SUMMARY OF CRITIQUE
  • JS conclusions are preconditioned by their own
    dubious presuppostional posture
  • Dubious assumptions
  • The real Jesus is non-supernatural
  • The Christ of Faith is a creation of the church
  • Jesus is only a sage
  • This harmless, quiet, non-confrontational,
    non-controversial, non-threatening sage spawned
    the powerful Christian movement
  • This harmless sage was flogged and crucified
  • The oral tradition (as seen in the four gospels)
    changed and modified the real Jesus in only about
    one generation after Jesus death and in spite of
    living eyewitnesses

77
SUMMARY CONTINUED
  • This Jesus was an odd figure, totally detached
    from his cultural heritage and ideologically
    estranged from the movement he is responsible to
    have founded
  • The four gospel accounts of Jesus a priori cannot
    be trusted
  • Gospel history should begin with skepticism and
    be done differently than all other ancient
    history.
  • The Gospel of Thomas (or an earlier version of
    it) can be dated as early as 50-60 AD and should
    be considered as a source for the real words of
    Jesus
  • Truth can be voted on
  • No one or their beliefs should be marginalized.
    It is alright however to marginalize those who
    believe in one universal truth

78
CONCLUSION
  • All the presuppositions of the Jesus Seminar
    ensure the discovery of an historical Jesus
    created in the predetermined image of the Jesus
    Seminar itself.
  • It has built dubious presuppositions upon dubious
    presuppositions and therefore its results are not
    worthy of serious consideration.
  • The Jesus Seminar project is not one of
    discovery, nor is it scientific. It amounts to
    the forcing of the Gospel material through a
    narrow preconceived sieve which only Jesus as a
    Sage can pass through and be recognized. Hence,
    the Seminar has failed to establish its sage
    Jesus as the real Jesus.
  • The Jesus seminar has therefore conducted its
    search on false pretenses (it is not a
    search) and no one should feel compelled to
    embrace its conclusions.

79
FROM APOLOGETICS TO ERISTICS FINDING THE REAL
JESUS
  • Apologetics Defense of the faith
  • Eristics The advance or offense of the faith
  • To find the real Jesus, we must
  • Reunite the Christ of Faith with the Jesus of
    History. We must allow Jesus to be supernatural
    as well as human. The justification of this comes
    from
  • 1. Eyewitness testimony of the Gospels which
    speak of this unity (e.g., Luke 11-4)
  • 2. Eyewitness testimony and oral tradition
  • corroboration of the NT letters (e.g., Pauls
    letters and statements, e.g., I Cor. 153-8)

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ERISTICS
  • 3. The eyewitness testimony in the book of
  • Acts (e.g., Acts 222-24, 36)
  • 4. The testimony of the Apostolic Fathers and
    their use of the unified term Jesus Christ,
    Jesus is the Christ, Christ is Lord. E.g.,
    I Clement 21 (96AD) which states, Let us
    reverence the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood
    was given for us (Roberts, Donaldson, Coxe, The
    Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 1, 11)
  • There is no compelling historical evidence that
    the church of the first century created the
    Christ of Faith.
  • Let us proclaim without reservation the Jesus of
    the NT Gospels!

81
HOW TO FIND JESUS
  • Not through Post-modern or Enlightenment
    deconstruction of the texts of the Bible or
    personal constructs made by us or the early
    church.
  • It is through establishing a personal,
    experiential relationship with him as a living
    being, as Jesus the Christ. He is alive now, not
    just in past history. History did not end with
    his death. It continues and he continues (Heb.
    724).
  • This relationship is not limited to the
    intellectual realm but must be experiential,
    involving both our and Gods heart, mind, soul,
    and strength.
  • It is two sided. We must experience God and He us
    (Gal 49 Matt. 723 Deut. 82 I Cor. 81b-3 I
    Jn. 53)

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ERISTICS
  • Let us eristically urge the members of the Jesus
    Seminar to find the real living Jesus by making
    him Lord in surrender to him for all he really
    is the living historical unified-in-personhood
    Jesus the Christ
  • This is the testimony of the Apostle John in I
    John. 42b-3 56a, 12). Let us and everyone
    embrace it and not fall for the false dichotomy
    of the Christ of Faith and the Jesus of History

83
THE EYEWITNESS PLEA OF JOHN THE APOSTLE
  • Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ
    has come in the flesh is from God, but every
    spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not
    from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist
    which you have heard is coming and even now is
    already in the world. . . This is the one who
    came by water and bloodJesus Christ . . . He who
    has the Son has life he who does not have the
    Son of God does not have life

84
SUGGESTED READINGS
  • Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses
    The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. Grand
    Rapids Eerdmans, 2006.
  • Evans, Craig A. Evans. Fabricating Jesus How
    Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels. Downers
    Grove, IVP, 2006.
  • Funk, Robert W. Hoover, Roy W. and The Jesus
    Seminar, The Five Gospels The Search for the
    Authentic Words of Jesus. New York Macmillan,
    1993
  • Funk, Robert W. and The Jesus Seminar, The Acts
    of Jesus The Search for the Authentic Deeds of
    Jesus. San Francisco Harper, 1998.

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READINGS CONTINUED
  • Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Real Jesus The
    Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the
    Truth of the Traditional Gospels. San Francisco
    Harper, 1997.
  • Wilkins, Michael J. and Moreland, J. P., eds,
    Jesus Under Fire Modern Scholarship Reinvents
    the Historical Jesus. Grand Rapids Zondervan,
    1995.
  • Wright, N. T. Jesus and the Victory of God.
    Minneapolis Fortress Press, 1996.
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