Shuck and Jive

Friday, June 15, 2007

Tabor and Crossan Together!

I wrote about James Tabor last night regarding how I liked Crossan's view of Jesus more than his (at least as it related to the idea of whether or not Jesus expected God to act in a violent way and overthrow Rome, etc.) This morning I was pleased to see a post about time he spent with Crossan just recently! It is a great post regarding the various methods of Historical Jesus inquiry. Here is a portion:

To those outside the field of critical biblical studies who read the Bible “literally,” it means what it says and it says what it means. But the historian must properly ask, given Mark’s core narrative of Jesus last week in Jerusalem, which sections most likely reflect actual history and which were created by Mark or his community for theological purposes. Did Jesus ride down the Mt. of Olives on a donkey, was he examined by Pontius Pilate, did Joseph of Arimathea take him corpse and bury it in a nearby tomb, and did women visit that tomb Sunday morning and find it empty? And when Jesus speaks or teaches to what degree do we have what he actually said and to what degree are we hearing the theological memory of his followers four or five decades after his death who are passing on traditions from Jesus relevant to their own concerns and times? In other words, to what extent is Mark, our core story, reflecting the situation related to the devastation of 70 CE and the first Jewish Revolt (see Mark 13 sandwiched within the narrative), and interpreting Jesus as the Christ he came to be, and to what extent is Mark’s story related to the historical Jesus and his own situation 40 years earlier–and how would one know? Further, since Matthew and Luke basically follow Mark’s passion narrative, what about John? Is John an independent source from Mark, or is his heavily theologized narrative of the last days of Jesus essentially Mark written over with his own vision of things?

I found this post very interesting as James Tabor introduces the similarities and differences between his method (and subsequent Jesus) from John Dominic Crossan's method (and Jesus) as well as the role of critical scholarship and archaeology in understanding early Christian origins.


  1. I suspect Crossan and Tabor will have plenty of time to chat things over together. Hey...maybe I'll be scholarly enough to join them, then!

  2. Yup,

    Hell is where those bastards belong. That'll teach 'em for thinkin'.

  3. Heck...I figure if anthropogenic catastrophic global warming is true, we'll all be someplace remarkably hotter right soon!

    And that's ridiculous to assert that "thinkin'" puts folks in hell. I think - but only what I'm told...right?

    Seriously, why is it always this false dichotomy: "If he's a true believer, he must not be a thinker!"

    "If he's a true thinker, he can't be a believer!"

    I've met unthinking believers and thinking believers. Same thing is true of unbelievers.

  4. I think the exploration that the two scholars are doing is highly beneficial. In reading the New Testament, the purpose behind the radical grace is often freedom. The legalistic viewpoint too often kept things in a box, only permitting certain ways of belief. Jesus often comes across as showing people that they make it too difficult, and the whole point was a one-on-one relationship with God.

    And yet, the church established seemed to go right back to (trying to) lock God in a box.

  5. Chris,

    I think John took his comment about "thinking" from your own remark about going to hell because you'd be "scholarly enough by then". What did you mean to imply if not that Crossan and Tabor's scholarship was likely to get them damned?

  6. Aric,

    All I was trying to do was uphold John's point that fantasy-based religions (like ones that pretend you can be Christian and deny the physical resurrection of Jesus' crucified body) are humorless and can't take a joke.

  7. Thanks Heather and Aric!

    Good points!