Friday, December 08, 2006

Fabricating Jesus

“I went to seminary for the purpose of training in Christian ministry…Greek and Hebrew came easily; exegesis was fun; historical and background studies were stimulating. While other students were attempting to avoid these subjects, I engaged them enthusiastically,” C. Evans, Fabricating Jesus (IVP 2006), 9.

“I had the good fortune of entering Claremont Graduate University at a time when its biblical studies faculty was at its greatest…It was from Brownlee that I learned much about the Dead Sea Scrolls, and it was with him that I studied Aramaic and Syriac,” ibid. 9-10.

“Sanders introduced me to the versions of Scripture, such as the Old Greek (or Septuagint) and the Aramaic (or Targum). He led me through the rabbinic literature, taught me to appreciate rabbinic Midrash and transformed textual criticism—the study of ancient manuscripts and their diverse readings and variants—into a joy,” ibid. 11.

“As I taught New Testament at Trinity, I of course began to shift my research and publishing away from Isaiah and the Old Testament to the New Testament. I focused on Jesus and the Gospels, which had been the focus of my interest back in seminary. An interesting thing happened. I realized that my work in Isaiah, the Greek and Aramaic versions of the Old Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls and early rabbinic literature was an enormous asset in the study of Jesus and the Gospels. As I became acquainted with more and more New Testament scholars (at regional and national Society of Biblical Literature meetings), I became aware that many of them lacked training in the Semitic background of the New Testament. I was bumping into New Testament scholars who had studied Greek and knew something of the Greco-Roman world, but had only the feeblest ability with Hebrew and Aramaic (if at all). Most knew little of early rabbinic literature and the Aramaic paraphrases of Scripture,” ibid. 12.

“This deficiency on the part of so many New Testament scholars helps explain the oddness of much of the work of the Jesus Seminar, founded by Robert Funk in 1985. Whereas many of the Seminar’s members have been exposed to Greek literature and Greco-Roman culture and conventions, not many of them appear to have competence in the Semitic (Jewish) world of Jesus. Few seem acquainted with the land of Israel itself. Few have done any archaeological work. Few know rabbinic literature and the Aramaic paraphrases of Scripture,” ibid. 12.

“Long ago in a doctoral seminar on the historical Jesus I questioned the historical validity of ‘double dissimilarity’ as a criterion of authenticity. James Robinson, who was leading the seminar, responded that the criterion was necessary to rule out sayings that may have originated in either Jewish or Christian circles. I found this puzzling. This thinking was greatly at odds with my studies in history (in which I had majored). Eventually I learned that many scholars engaged in the study of the historical Jesus have studied Bible and theology, but not history. These Jesus scholars are not historians at all. This lack of training is apparent in the odd presuppositions, methods and conclusions that are reached,” ibid. 252n16.

6 comments:

  1. Steve Jackson12/09/2006 11:05 AM

    I wasn't sure if I was going to get this book, but (from the quotes you give)it looks like it takes a different approach from similar books.

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  2. When I read these kind of thoughts and "arguments" from any angle, whether is "proving" Christ or "disproving" it always takes me back to Paul:

    1 And when I came to you, brethren, I adid not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you bthe 1testimony of God.
    2 For I determined to know nothing among you except aJesus Christ, and Him crucified.
    3 I was with you in aweakness and in bfear and in much trembling,
    4 and my 1message and my preaching were anot in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of bthe Spirit and of power,
    5 so that your faith would not 1rest on the wisdom of men, but on athe power of God.

    1 Corinthians 2:1-5

    May we always remember where the power of the gospel truly is.

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  3. Whereas many of the Seminar’s members have been exposed to Greek literature and Greco-Roman culture and conventions, not many of them appear to have competence in the Semitic (Jewish) world of Jesus. Few seem acquainted with the land of Israel itself. Few have done any archaeological work. Few know rabbinic literature and the Aramaic paraphrases of Scripture,” ibid. 12.

    “Long ago in a doctoral seminar on the historical Jesus I questioned the historical validity of ‘double dissimilarity’ as a criterion of authenticity. James Robinson, who was leading the seminar, responded that the criterion was necessary to rule out sayings that may have originated in either Jewish or Christian circles. I found this puzzling. This thinking was greatly at odds with my studies in history (in which I had majored). Eventually I learned that many scholars engaged in the study of the historical Jesus have studied Bible and theology, but not history. These Jesus scholars are not historians at all. This lack of training is apparent in the odd presuppositions, methods and conclusions that are reached,” ibid. 252n16.



    This would not be the case with the former Catholic monk John Dominic Crossan. I think even if you disagree with Crossan after reading his books, you will be left with respect for this biblical scholar.

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  4. Anonymous said:
    This would not be the case with the former Catholic monk John Dominic Crossan. I think even if you disagree with Crossan after reading his books, you will be left with respect for this biblical scholar.

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    You may have a lot less respect for him after you read Evans dismantle his case for Jesus as a Cynic.

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  5. WOW, I might actually consider getting this book, but after christmas, i'm low on budget...sigh.

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  6. Steve Jackson12/10/2006 9:42 AM

    Does Evans deal with Robert Eisenman?

    ReplyDelete