William Wrede’s The Messianic Secret
Part 3: Introduction
Gospels are stories
In the previous installment, we read through the front matter of Wrede’s The Messianic Secret. This time, we’re going to look at the Introduction, which while technically part of the front matter, is a meaty chapter unto itself.
Quite recently, Neil remarked on this blog:
The most striking thing that hit me in Richard Carrier’s online discussions or articles on Bayes’ theorem was the point that one needs to stop and distinguish between whether we know X happened (e.g. someone saw an empty tomb) or whether what we know is that we have A STORY THAT SAYS X happened.
Apparently, we’re still re-learning the things that Wrede said over a century ago. Indicting the current “defective critical method,” he wrote:
First of all, it is indeed an axiom of historical criticism in general that what we have before us is actually just a later narrator’s conception of Jesus’ life and that this conception is not identical with the thing itself. But the axiom exercises much too little influence. (p. 5, emphasis original)
The story is not the event. The map is not the territory. He then drives the point home even harder, declaring: read more