re: Criteria

On Thu, 31 Mar 1994 08:40:37 -0500 you said:
>This seems to me to bring up a more fundamental question, that being the
>relevance of the historicity of Jesus' sayings to one's theology (not to
>mention faith). I.e. does it make a difference whether or not Jesus actually
>said something? If it does, then the two questions are inextricably

Earlier this morning I said that I do think that the authenticity of the text
and the authenticity of Jesus' sayings are really both problems for the
approprite kind of text-critical/historical scholarship to deal with rather
than for theology to deal with. Theology should deal with the fruits of that.

On the other hand, I also said at that time that I thought this List more
properly concerned itself with historical and text-critical issues than with
faith issues. Nevertheless, I do have a stance toward the question that you
raise--a faith-stance, and I am not ashamed to express it.

The question of which gospel sayings attributed to Jesus derive from the
historical Jesus seems to me to be different from the question, which gospel
sayings attributed to Jesus are authoritative for the believing Christian.
I believe that there are several sayings attributed to Jesus in the NT gospels
that derive from prophecy in the early Church, sayings which therefore became
part of the oral tradition precisely because believers made no distinction
between sayings derived from the historical Jesus and sayings derived from
what they believed was the risen Christ. It is faith that makes that identifi-
cation of historical Jesus and risen Christ. The historian, however, wants to
make a clear distinction between the two, even if he/she believes in the risen
Christ, and therefore poses the legitimate question regarding the gospels,
which of the saying attributed to Jesus derive from the historical Jesus?

I am not a member of the Jesus Seminar. I know that there are subscribers to
this list who are. I am not a professional NT scholar but rather a professional
Classicist. I do have, however, great respect for the Jesus Seminar and think
that the work they are doing is valuable. I even suspect that ultimately the
church will benefit from their work, although I don't imagine at all that they
go about their shared task with any shared commitment to benefitting the

And now, although I rather doubt that this will bring to a close the discussion
of faith questions on a list which I had thought more properly concerned itself
with textual and historical matters, I intend to say no more about faith
questions here.

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