the historical Jesus 2: really listening
October 24, 2008
It always amazes me how quick we are to critique that which we know nothing about. I catch myself doing it. Did it again a few days ago when one of the young people at church was reading a book which I read almost 10 years ago, and couldn’t really remember. I went into an elaborate critique of the book, and that evening was greeted by a message of facebook from the girl, with a quote from the book showing me that I was completely wrong in my critique:-) We tend to learn the hard way…
I told Maryke the other day that I guess my biggest problem with fundamentalist Christians is the fact that they really don’t listen, and make assumptions about others on things they know nothing about. When it comes to the quest for the historical Jesus, you’ll find lots of opinions from people who haven’t ever read anything in this line! I remember visiting one of my lecturers in my second year, when experiencing some severe struggles with my own faith (a story for another day), and how he told me that in his research he works with historical criticism! I was shocked! I had the utmost respect for this person, both as lecturer, but also as fellow believer. I later learned what historical criticism was, and just smiled.
Now, in really listening to anything, in really attempting to understand something (including ourselves) I believe that we should make more of history and narrative. The two aint so far apart in my view. We should understand the story of how things came to be. How it developed. If you pick up almost any good book on the historical Jesus, you’ll find a long introduction explaining the different stages of the introduction and how this work slots into this history, and thus why certain methodological choices was made.
In the coming posts I will use terms like first quest, second quest, third quest, no quest, and several names of people. I do this not to sound smart or show of (actually, I would much rather have you take up a book like NT Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God, but knowing that many of my readers would never do that, and also to get myself to rethink these things, I’ll continue this series). But to understand why we continue this search, we need to see why it started, why it stopped at certain points, which mistakes was made, and also how many different opinions exist.
I will use two questions throughout the series. And again I need to credit me professor in historical Jesus research for teaching me this way of looking at the quest.
- Is it theologically relevant?
- Is it methodologically possible?
Think about them. What would you say? Why?
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