Does no one love Jesus anymore?

There have been a couple of observations, including this one (bypassing the theological and philosophical objections to HJ studies), that less people are interested in historical Jesus studies than in previous years. The halcyon days of Sanders, Wright, Crossan et al seem to be over.  So why might this be? Are people not that taken by memory and HJ studies? Has the use of memory, nuances aside, been replaying old form critical arguments in modern guise? Has the developing awareness that the construction of different quests as being largely fake, and that scholars are actually repeating and repeating old arguments, led to greater reluctance to reconstruct the HJ? We could say the same about Pauline studies but people still believe in what Paul says whereas, ultimately, HJ isn’t canonical and his word can’t carry the same weight, unlike the ‘final form’ of the Gospel. And is there a probelm with the (probably implicit) impact of various recent ideological critiques of contemporary quests which suggest that HJ scholarship might not be quite as morally upright as we once thought? Are there other cultural factors at play not mentioned here?

And are we waiting for that messianic book which will boost HJ studies?

Well?

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15 responses to “Does no one love Jesus anymore?

  1. Do we really want to know who the real Jesus was or are we too frightened? Scholarship has been too busy gazing at its own reflection, conforming to the group, making Jesus palatable, simplifying complex problems and avoiding inevitable truths. It has also failed to produce a viable historical methodology. Vermes and Sanders made slight steps in the right direction but these have largely been ignored, dismissed or missed. But lo and behold, waiting in the wings is a paradigm shift. And I dare say no more… except bring on the REVOLUTION!

  2. And are we waiting for that messianic book which will boost HJ studies?

    Sorry. Still working on it. But in my (admittedly deluded) imagination it’s a blockbuster. 🙂

  3. the answer is simple. there’s been no forward movement in so long and the same old issues have been rehashed and rehashed so many times that it’s all just boring now.

  4. what’s with the anonymous posting? who wrote this?
    otherwise well said!

  5. Pingback: Giving up on Jesus?

  6. Jim says he’s left a comment which is not visible yet. Naturally I agree with him although he sounds a little grumpy about it. 😉

    Apart from past scholarship failing to develop an adequate methodology and allow Occam a beard and accept that the problem is a jigsaw puzzle, there is a tendency sometimes to dismiss the entire gospel tradition as a set of hopeless historical sources when so much is recognised within them as implausible and untrue. For example, the virgin birth and the healing of ten lepers, two traditions which no genuine critical scholar accepts as historical (compare the likes of Stanley Porter on the latter tradition etc however – imo not critical scholars). This happens when the gospel authors are assumed to be writing as ‘historians’ in the genre of Josephus, Arrian, Thucydides etc. Richard Burridge has demonstrated they are written in the style of ancient bios and as such, the authors were at liberty to embellish and create when they considered it appropriate. Comparative ancient biographers would be Suetonius and Plutarch etc.

    For any further historical Jesus research to be successful it must not repeat the past (scholarship!) – it must point out and reject the flaws in the “Jesus Seminar”, identify and refute flawed methods of the conservatives and develop an entirely new methodology based on historical plausibility. This will demand a phenomenal knowledge of the broad context in which the traditions evolved, including multiple ancient languages, understanding of literature and the whole writing of and reconstructing ‘history’…. and it’s late…

    So contrary to Jim, it’s all quite surprising and I feel quite cheerful… (or is that the gin?)

  7. at least I think I agree with Jim depending on whether he said only what he said on his blog. I just don’t agree it’s the end. Scholarship just has not had enough ‘clever’ in it.

  8. I am looking forward to Maurice Casey’s new book too.

  9. STEPH
    Scholarship has been too busy gazing at its own reflection, conforming to the group, making Jesus palatable, simplifying complex problems and avoiding inevitable truths. It has also failed to produce a viable historical methodology.

    CARR
    Well, yes, that is what some of us have been saying.

    STEPH
    it must point out and reject the flaws in the “Jesus Seminar”, identify and refute flawed methods of the conservatives and develop an entirely new methodology based on historical plausibility.

    CARR
    Failing that, you could always look for primary sources, physical evidence, and writings by people who lived at the time.

    Lots of things are plausible. But what is there evidence for?

  10. Interestingly, this has been the top post on the blog. More hits than Q. Even more hits than Jim West on miminalism.

  11. you’re climbing on alexa too. so, you’re welcome.
    😉

  12. haha irony. Just sorted the details and made a couple of alterations on the dust jacket today, for the book I think marks a paradigm shift, and sent back to Dominic. I’m still hoping he’ll have it released by Atlanta but it probably won’t be til December. I think the interest is there – it’s just waiting for something like this. Just like that damnable synoptic problem as someone keeps telling me.

  13. reaction elsewhere to this post has been interesting and useful, as always, for the follow-up so to speak 😉

  14. Pingback: Part IV: Wrapping up the Series on Form Criticism « Euangelion Kata Markon

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