New Testament & History

On Tue, 19 Apr 1994 23:35:00 -0600 you said:

>This was then discussed by many.  I would like to make a point in reference

>to Christianity's being a historical religion.  The central focus of

>Christianity is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  The truth or

>falsity of this focus lies in the historical.  The theology of Christianity

>is built around this central ideology.  If one tampers with the history,

>one tampers with the theology as well.  And so it is with all the other

>statements concerning Jesus.  If they are placed under historical

>suspicion, then the theology becomes suspicious as well.  Historical

>questions concerning the authenticity of Jesus' statements will necessarily

>affect theology.  Thus, I do not think that history and theology can be

>separated so, given the historical nature of the Christian religion.

>Kevin Cauley


As a believer I would agree with the first part of this--that the death and

resurrection of Jesus are at the very core of Christian faith in its tradition.

I do not think, however, that this seriously affects the issue that was under

discussion in the earlier thread, namely, the authenticity of sayings ascribed

in the gospels to the historical Jesus. Unless one insists on the difficult

proposition--one that is NOT a necessary correlate of faith in the crucifixion

and resurrection--that the gospels are fundamentally accurate historical texts,

then the gospels are subject to examination by historical methodology and the

endeavor to discern which sayings attributed to the historical Jesus are

authentic and which are not--yes, and the shades in between--is a legitimate

enterprise, even, I think, for believing Christian scholars. Of course the

question is more complex than this would seem to indicate, but this proposition

does seem to me fundamentally sound. I'm sorry if I've opened up a new can of

worms, but Mr. Cauley's statement seems to me overly simplistic.

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