Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Grieving Over a Lost Jesus

I have been somewhat quiet in the blogosphere recently, in part because I have been preoccupied with my wife's job loss and then transfer, fortunately, to a new position in her company. I have also been busy with church stuff.

But I have also been digesting a number of the blogging posts recently on the state of the Jesus Seminar and what is being called the new Jesus Project. The Jesus Seminar is familiar to everyone in my congregation as I have been talking about it and reading books by its authors with groups for 15 years. You can read some about the Jesus Project here, and by following some of the links there.

I have been particularly struck in recent days by a series of posts by April DeConick entitled The Jesus Seminar Jesus is Bankrupt. What DeConick does in these posts is take on the method used by the scholars of the Jesus Seminar to paint its picture(s) of Jesus and suggest that while the method has value, it doesn't necessarily lead us to the historical Jesus.

I enourage you to read DeConick's posts for a good short summary of the scholarly method employed by most biblical scholars and her critique of it's assumptions. If you read through some of the other links mentioned above you can see some of the other critique of the work of the Jesus Seminar.

I have to say that I find myself entering a state of grief over the Jesus Seminar and its apparent demise. I have always been aware of the criticisms that the Jesus Seminar set out to find the historical Jesus and instead found a cool California Jesus. I began to read some of Dale Allison's writings a few years ago and found his arguments for an apocalyptic Jesus strong and at least worth considering. It has also been obvious for a number of years that the scholars of the Jesus Seminar themselves essentially changed the subject of their inquiry and moved onto early Christian origins, either because they had run into a dead end or knew that there were problems with their Jesus.

But for at least 20 years my thinking, preaching, teaching, and faith have been informed and inspired by the work of Jesus Seminar. There was a time when I looked forward to every book that came out by Crossan and Funk and Borg and others. The Jesus Seminar Jesus was very much alive for me. And now I feel like he is dying again.

It's probably a healthy thing, but I am not too happy about it right now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are serious and significant defects in the project's methodology. For well-documented and significant historical information avoided, evaded and glossed over by traditionalists, see