The Jesus Seminar

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by Dave the Web, Apr 18, 2003.

  1. Dave the Web

    Dave the Web Well-Known Member

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    **Culture Watch**
    The Mystery of the Resurrected Rabbi
    Jesus provides the way of faith.
    by David A. Wade

    As an evangelical, I challenge any pseudo-gnostic ideas of Jesus. The Jesus Seminar often appears arrogant in its treatment of the foundations of Christian belief. Yet after an hour of listening to John Dominic Crossan speak, my opinion of him as a person had gently relaxed. While I don't agree with many of his conclusions, the discussion was refreshing. I too want to make Jesus live again, so he is historically relevant and available to a cynical, overstimulated, 21st-century audience. The discussion rekindles our connection to the early, passionate, all-too-human communities who wrestled with the mystery of a resurrected rabbi.

    CROSSAN'S writings have been a media lightening rod in these discussions. His works include The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (Harper SanFrancisco, 1993), a book unfolding the academic foundations of his arguments; Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (Harper SanFrancisco, 1993), a retelling of his conclusions told in a narrative form to allow for popular reading; and The Essential Jesus (Harper SanFrancisco, 1994), a small book containing what Crossan believes to be the original words of Jesus.

    This last book provides a good introduction to the entire topic. Crossan's Jesus is radical in his call to social transformation and spiritual renewal. The Jesus Crossan describes declares a "brokerless kingdom"-a place for the powerless and dispossessed, with no institutions, no power structures built in the name of God. The Jesus Crossan illumines would not have prescribed the church of today.

    THE CURRENT REVIVAL of interest in the historical Jesus has created a mini-publishing boom. One of the most interesting is John Meier's A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Two volumes of a projected three-volume project are currently available. It is part of the Anchor Bible Reference Series, with the first volume covering the basic arguments and assessments that Meier proposes, then continuing with a discussion of Jesus' early life and roots. The second volume discusses the years of public ministry.

    Meier differs from Crossan in several important areas. First, Meier is much more orthodox in his portrayal of Jesus. For him, the miracles of Jesus were not deceptions or metaphorical explanations of an internal kingdom. Rather, as herald of God's kingdom, Jesus performed miracles to elucidate his message. In addition, it appears that Meier is seeking a consensus opinion regarding Jesus-one that seeks to bring the best modern thinking together. Writing from within the academic heart of American Catholicism, Meier brings enormous scholarship to his work as well as a great passion for the person of Jesus.

    Another author with great passion, but a perspective similar to Crossan's, is fellow seminar member Marcus Borg. His latest work, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, is the story of his personal rediscovery of Christ. After moving away from his naive childhood idea of Jesus, as well as the disillusionment he experienced in seminary, Borg tells of his re-encounter with the God of his youth, but this time through the eyes of an adult not easily given to belief.

    While including many of the same theological constructs as Crossan, Borg's writing is more intimate. Many will be able to relate to his sense of loss of faith as an adult, and rejoice with him upon its rediscovery.

    Orbis Books has published a collection of essays that broaden, dispute, apply, and dissect the theories and work of Crossan and the seminar, titled Jesus and Faith. While taking the seminar's work seriously, the various essayists move at the image of the historical Jesus from different perspectives, including seeking its application for feminist theologians and liberation theology.
     
  2. Dave the Web

    Dave the Web Well-Known Member

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    Sorry I was in a rush the other day but I thought I would post this up quickly. I have heard of the Jesus Seminar but have not heard much of their actual discussions in situ. Would anyone wish to dicuss the matter?
     
  3. Skeptic44

    Skeptic44 Well-Known Member

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    _______________________

    I had a chance to meet Dom Crossan, too, at a conference held at Chapman University.

    The scholars in this group take votes on whether they think certain sayings attributed to Jesus in the NT are authentic or manufactured.

    An interesting place to start might be with a saying that is not attributed to Jesus.

    Dom thinks the Gospel of Mark originally ended with the acclamation of the centurion

    Mark 15:39 Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he cried out like this and breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was (son-huis)(theos)."

    Dom makes the case for this being the Big Finish of Peter's original sermon to the church in Rome, which a generic Roman citizen announcing an opinion that.... and this is where the controversy comes in.

    At this point in time, Roman coins would have a likeness of an Emperor and an inscription. Many of them said "divii filius" - (son)(God) - a title used by the Emperor cult in Rome. When an Emperor died, the Senate issued a proclamation making him "divii" - noble, godlike, however you want to translate it - and some of the Emperors would claim the title of "Son of divii" if they were related to a dead emperor.

    So, the Roman centurion could have been saying "Truly this mortal human being was just as noble as the Roman Emperor."

    Mark was written in Greek, not Latin. We don't know if the centurion spoke in Greek - possible, since some Aramaic in the same section was translated - or Latin.

    If it was Greek, he said "huis""Theos." And we would have to guess whether the Greek (son) "theos" is the accepted translation for the title of Augustus (son)(divii).

    By that time, however, (son)(theos) had been used by Paul in his letters, so it could have had acquired a secondary meaning within the church.

    I think this issue is mentioned in Crossan's "Historical Jesus." Did the gospel originally end here? You might post what Crossan thinks on this issue, as a way of starting a discussion of the Jesus Seminar.
     
  4. Polycarp

    Polycarp Established Member

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    What annoys Christians generally about the Jesus Seminar is its methodology, which is I think an acceptable one but not well publicized: to see what we can learn about the "real" Jesus using strictly historiographical, textual-analysis techniques.

    Obviously, if He was in fact the avatar of YHWH on earth, all bets are off. Bjut within the limits of the chosen methodology, some interesting data results.

    A review of their work keeping this in mind proves most interesting.
     
  5. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Certainly the methodology is not well explained - I remember visiting their site a while back, but found I was required to purchase a book to even begin to learn how they were reaching their conclusions. Until then, I'll happily tackle anyone who wishes to declare any particular words attributed to Jesus in fact have a clear absolute percentile value of being true, to actually substantiate with explanation.
     
  6. Lorin

    Lorin Member

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    What Jesus actually said is not an issue of theology, or even of history, but of epistemology and "knowability" theory. It is not likely that given the questions of changes in Gospel over time, the problems of philology in 3 languages, we will ever have a methodology that is sure. Perhaps Gospel of Thomas is as good a guide as any. Synoptic gospels do not ageee exactly even about what Jesus said on the Cross.

    I have read and admire both Meir and Crossan, and would like to also recomend Vermes "Jesus The Jew" to a list of interesting investigations. This book contains an interestinjg speculation that at the time the Greek word "Tektron" was used informally to mean scholar, and disagrees with Crossan on the literarcy of Jesus.
     
  7. Lorin

    Lorin Member

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    A theological issue between Catholics and the Reformed churches is the true meaning of Communion. Eucharistos is modern and ancient Greek for "thank you" a ceremony of thanksgiving after the meal in Greek tradition. There is no trace of this in contemporary Passover Seders-


    Did Palestinian Jews use this form in Passover meals?

    Are there Esseme or other Hebrew Messianic Traditons that are sources for Jesus words? It is surely not part of the tradition of the Davidic Messiah. Is it part of the tradition of the Teacher of Rigthiousness? Or the Suffering Servant?

    ! have been unable to answer these questions despite reasonably serious search.
     
  8. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    I just knew you had a thing for Rugby...;)

    v/r

    Q
     

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