Shuck and Jive

Friday, September 22, 2006

The History of the Historical Jesus

"After the rise of biblical criticism, pietists tended to harmonize the differences and discrepancies by inventing explanations to account for them. Recently, a televangelist explained to his listeners that the bible does not contradict itself. As an example, he chose the death of Judas Iscariot. According to Matthew (27:3), Judas rejected the thirty pieces of silver and hanged himself. In Acts (1:18–19), Judas bought a field with his silver coins and later swelled up and burst open so that his bowels gushed out. The televangelist took the view that hanging and evisceration are two accounts of the same event: Judas hanged himself, then swelled up as he dangled in the air; since Jews were forbidden to touch a dead body, someone had to cut the rope, at which point he dropped to the ground and burst open, his bowels pouring out on the ground. The evangelist did not explain the contradiction involved in Judas both returning the coins and buying a field with them. In television land, the defense of the bible as an infallible source of history goes on unabated, as though historical criticism were the invention of the devil."
--Robert Funk

I get many questions about the historical Jesus. What is this all about? Is not the Jesus of the Gospels historical? Rather than answer that question directly, I refer you to an article by the late Robert W. Funk, entitled "Milestones in the Quest for the Historical Jesus" in the Fourth R.

(Shameless advertisement: If you get a membership to Westar you will receive the Fourth R plus get a discount on events and books and tapes!)

Getting a grasp on the history of scholarship of the Bible is key to helping us understand and make use of it today.


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