Continuing from the previous post . . . .
Chris Keith continues with the same authoritative dogmatic lessons for the new student readers when he speaks of
- Mara Bar Serapion (“Mara does not refer to Jesus by name. Nevertheless, Jesus is certainly the person to whom he is referring”);
- Pliny the Younger (One of “several Greco-Roman writers [to] refer to Jesus as the founder of Christianity” and who in a letter to Trajan “describes Jesus”);
- Suetonius (Another one of the “several Greco-Roman writers [to] refer to Jesus as the founder of Christianity” and who also “refers to Jesus”);
- Tacitus (One more of the “several Greco-Roman writers [to] refer to Jesus as the founder of Christianity” and whose work contains an “account of Jesus”).
Keith informs his readers that though none of the above actually used the name Jesus, Jesus was definitely the one they were writing about. Nowhere is the student informed that “Chrestus” (the name mentioned by Suetonius) was a very common slave name at the time; nor is the reader informed of the existence of any scholarly doubts or debates surrounding any of the passages. One wonders if Chris Keith himself has simply taken the traditional Christian view for granted from the beginning of his student days, too. Continue reading “Introducing new students to HJ studies – 2”
Anthony Le Donne drew our attention on The Jesus Blog to a book he highly recommended as an introduction to Jesus studies for his seminary students, Jesus among Friends and Enemies. Because Le Donne was fired back in 2012 by Lincoln Christian University over his book The Historiographical Jesus in which he argued for a way of studying the gospels that would lead us to conclude that not everything they say about Jesus was necessarily so, and because Le Donne continues to be associated with what many see as groundbreaking critical historical research into the historical Jesus, I could not resist learning more about a book he highly recommends for beginning students.
Le Donne writes:
The introduction by Chris Keith should be required reading for every seminary student.
The introduction indeed turned out to be an eye-opener.
Here is how the authors of the Preface (presumably Chris Keith and Larry Hurtado) preceding that introduction introduce Jesus studies to new students.
First, I need to point out that the book attempts to do two things and it is the first of these that most interested me:
[T]he first half of each chapter presents what scholars can know about [Jesus and other characters in the gospels] from the broad historical record and the contexts of Jesus and the early church.
The second half of each chapter then turns to consider the portrayals of that character or group of characters in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The Preface further bluntly points out that the book “is not a historical Jesus book”, however,
we are nevertheless convinced that its primary focus is relevant to certain discussions in historical Jesus research. . . . [T]he approach of this book can be the first step on a path that leads to studying the historical Jesus and the nature of the Gospels as historical narratives. (My own bolding and formatting in all quotations)
Continue reading “Introducing new students to Historical Jesus studies – 1”