2007-01-18

R.I.P. [anonymous academic] on F.F.Bruce

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by Neil Godfrey

Bruce writes of his purpose in “Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament” (referring to himself as “he”):

He is certainly not concerned to establish the historicity of Jesus of the trustworthiness of the received account of Christian origins on such data as these: such an exercise would be based on the study of the primary sources, the New Testament writings themselves. (p.203)

It is interesting then that Bruce has been recommended as “sturdy” and “true” by academics who appear to find intolerable the thought that some really do doubt the historicity of Jesus.

As for those who discount that most contentious of all bits of data, the TF, Bruce also writes:

“[M]any students have come to the conclusion that the paragraph was interpolated by some Christian copyist or editor into the record of Josephus between the time of Origen and the time of Eusebius. It is a reasonable conclusion, held by many Christian scholars; and we must not accuse a man of undermining the case for historic Christianity because he cannot accept the authenticity of this paragraph. For, after all, it is not on the authority of Josephus that Christians believe in Christ!” (p.38)

Again, it is interesting that some academics appear to recall far too much back into Bruce when they recommend his work as an antidote to doubting a Josephan core in the TF.

The tone of these two passages by Bruce himself leads me to think there was once a more tolerant time when diametrically opposing views of the basic paradigm could be discussed more openly by representatives of both ends.

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