Thursday, April 15, 2010

Can We Get At the Historical Jesus?

For all interested in Historical Jesus (HJ) studies there's a good dialogue going on at, with Scot McKnight leading off, followed by N.T. Wright, Craig Keener, and Darrell Bock. McKnight thinks we should drop HJ studies because everyone ends up making Jesus into their own image. Wright, Keener, and Bock all disagree with McKnight on this. As do I. While acknowledging that self-projection always happens to some degree in any kind of scholarship (except for, arguably, logic and pure mathematics), one need not go over the skeptical abyss and proclaim that nothing can be said about the HJ. That particular methodological position is itself a projection that fits within a certain theological framework. In other words, if McKnight is correct, then his own projection-theory is itself, perhaps, a Feuerbachian kind of projection.

Surely we can dimiss the ultra-right-wing theologian who makes Jesus into an "American Jesus." Jesus was a Jew. So to come to grips with, e.g., Second Temple Judaism, as Wright does, helps us get at the historical Jesus.