Daily Archives: 2010-04-09 17:00:23 GMT+0000

And after that little flurry of bloggaloguing I’m off on holiday

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Songkran Festival 2009 in Chiang Mai, Thailand

I’ll be rushed when I get back so to save time I post the Chiang Mai (Songkran time) pics before I leave

Girl @ Doi Suthep Chiang Mai Thailand

Chiang Mai Elephants

The Bible says it, biblical historians believe it

Well, they don’t believe all of it, of course, but they do believe enough of it (they would deny faith is involved) to use as a skeletal framework in their various reconstructions of Christian origins.

Mainstream biblical scholarship (both Christian and secular) for most part bases its reconstructions of Christian origins on methods that would find no place in any other historical disciplines.

This argument is not about mythicism versus historicism. It is about methodology pure and simple. It is not about being predisposed to reject the historicity of the Gospels. It is about not bringing any presumptions about either historicity or mythicism to the texts, and seeing where standard justifiable approaches to any evidence lead us.

Nor is it about literary criticism versus historical criticism. Everyone reading a text inevitably brings to their understanding of it some “literary critical” views. If I believe a text is valuable as a source of historical information, then I am making a literary-critical judgment about that text. This is unavoidable.

I am sure this is not only my view — I was first made aware of it after reading the works of the likes of Philip R. Davies, Niels Peter Lemche, Keith Whitelam, Mario Liverani, Thomas L. Thompson and others in relation to the ‘Old Testament’ literature. Not that any of these, as far as I know, discuss the historical Jesus. So I have no idea if they themselves would extend some of their discussions on methodology to New Testament studies. (Even Thompson in his book The Messiah Myth does not attempt any historical reconstruction or address “the historical Jesus”. His book “is about the influence of the ancient Near Eastern figure of the king in biblical literature”, and how this “has much to do with how figures such as Jesus are created.” p.16. Thompson does nonetheless make some pointed comments about methodology of historical Jesus scholars, and I do quote him in these instances.)

Two books I have within reach at the moment are Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews by Paula Fredriksen, and The Date of Mark’s Gospel by James Crossley, so I use snippets from each of these to illustrate the flawed method on which so much Christian origin/historical Jesus studies are based. I will conclude by showing that my views are not nihilistic, but open the way to a constructive and justifiable historical enquiry.

Comparisons from nonbiblical studies

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