BNTC 2006 Abstracts
There are several abstracts available for the BNTC seminars. We now have Jesus Seminar (NOT to be confused with the American Jesus Seminar - though it would be entertaining if Bird had joined behind our backs) titles and abstracts. Note the potential for an early Crossley/Bird clash. If you are coming to BNTC you will of course want to come to the Jesus Seminar. The abstracts for the BNTC short papers are also available.
Dr James Crossley (University of Sheffield)
'Writing about the Historical Jesus: Historical Explanation and "the Big Why Questions" or Antiquarian Empiricism?'
Eric Hobsbawm once referred to 'neo-conservative' history of the 'antiquarian empiricists'. This type of history took the form of the detailed political narrative which had little if any concern for deeper causal issues in history and focussed mainly on issues such as personality. Hobsbawm, like many historians, stressed the importance of explaining historical change with reference to a range of factors: the big why questions. Debates around the nature of historical change have long rumbled on but there is little doubt that broader historical trends have played and continue to play a massive role for historians when explaining why things turned out as they did.
Notable exceptions aside, it seems that these ideas have barely penetrated 'mainstream' historical approaches to Christian origins which have tended to look at event level history, history of ideas and theology. The quest for the historical Jesus, for example, has been dominated by finding out who Jesus was, what he meant by this or that saying, and how he was different from or similar to his contemporaries. However, the developments in social-scientific approaches to Christian origins and a growing and often uneasy awareness of the importance of secularism in the humanities make it now possible for a re-focusing of the questions of why the Jesus movement emerged when and where it did and whether the individual historical figure of Jesus had any causal importance in the emergence of what was to become Christianity. This paper will outline some benefits of shifting historical Jesus questions from antiquarian exegesis to the bigger picture of why the Jesus movement and subsequent Christian movement emerged. More specifically this paper will suggest that while the impact of the historical Jesus should not be wholly ignored, his apparent impact was only possible due to broader historical trends. In fact it is most likely that specific social and economic change in early first century Galilee best account for the emergence of the Jesus movement which in turn tie in with long term social, economic and communicative trends throughout the Roman Empire thereby allowing for the emergence of another monotheistic movement after his death.
Dr Michael Bird (Highland Theological College)
'Who comes from the East and West?: The Historical Jesus and Q 13:28-29'
Since Joachim Jeremias' Jesu Verheissung für die Völker (1956) it has often been assumed that in Matt 8.11-12 Jesus looked forward to the inclusion of gentiles into the kingdom at the eschaton. However, several recent studies, most notably by Dale C. Allison, have called this view into question and have instead advocated that the logion refers to the regathering of the Diaspora. The purpose of this study is to evaluate Allison's arguments and to propose that a gentile reference is implicit in the logion based on: (1) the broader context of the inter-textual echoes of passages concerning the regathering of Jewish exiles; and (2) a wider ethnic membership for those who participate in the patriarchal banquet based on the reference to 'Abraham'. Furthermore, the logion is interpreted in the historical Jesus' ministry through the lens of a partially realized eschatology. As such the saying represents Jesus' contention that Israel's restoration was already becoming a reality and that gentiles were already entering the kingdom as an embryonic foretaste of their inclusion at the eschaton.
Dr Steve Moyise (University of Chichester)
'Jesus and Scripture'