Monday, February 28, 2011

John Dominic Crossan

Back in the 1970s, when Linda and I lived in the Chicago area, I became familiar with the Christological historical-Jesus studies of John Dominic Crossan. He was teaching at DePaul University. I read his book on Jesus' parables, which Crossan considered as "subversive literary gems." (In Parables: The Challenge of the Historical Jesus - first publioshed in 1973, republished in 1992) has a nice article on Crossan ("John Dominic Crossan's 'blasphemous' portrait of Jesus"). Because a major portion of my doctoral work was in Christology, and I was studying at Northwestern U. in the Chicago area, Crossan and the notorious "Jesus Seminar" was always on the radar screen.

Famously, Crossan does not think Jesus rose from the dead. But he does affirm that Jesus was a "major healer." In this way Crossan is like NT scholar Marcus Borg who believes in the miraculous but not in the resurrection of Jesus. How is this possible? It's possible, for Crossan and Borg, for textual reasons. For them, one can't read the biblical texts and arrive at a historical resurrection.

NT scholar Ben Witherington is quoted in the cnn piece. Witherington says: "Crossan's work allows people to sidestep questions like: Did he come to save the world? Is he the son of God? "It's a user-friendly Jesus that doesn't make demands on someone," he says. Witherington says Crossan is trying to find a nonsupernatural way to explain Jesus and Scripture, and "the shoe doesn't fit." "The stories are inherently theological," he says. "They all suggest that God intervenes in history. If you have a problem with the supernatural, you have a problem with the Bible. It's on every page.""

A good book to read to see Crossan's position as compared with a more Witherington-type position is: The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan And N.T. Wright in Dialogue. And: Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?: A Debate between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan.