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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Some light on the Jesus Project

James Tabor has posted some further information regarding the launching of the Jesus Project at the forthcoming Scripture and Skepticism project. Here is an extract of a letter from R. Joseph Hoffmann further clarifying the situation (more details on Jesus Dynasty):

At the conclusion of the three-day conference, Dr R. Joseph Hoffmann, the current head of CSER (Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, the sponsoring organization) will announce plans for a new venture called the “Jesus Project.” The emphasis of the new project is to examine the shreds of tradition which bear on the historicity—the historical existence–of Jesus of Nazareth. The Jesus Project is not “a successor” to the Jesus Seminar. The ambitious work of the Westar Institute winds on. The Jesus Project does however acknowledge a certain incompleteness in the work of the JS, since, inevitably, when the sayings of Jesus have been pared down to just under twenty, or some 18%, of those attributed to him in the canonical gospels, questions inevitably arise not just about the fate of the others, but the historicity of the man himself. The Jesus Project is funded entirely by the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, its affiliates, and private donors.

It should be stressed that the JP, contrary to some advance media speculation, is not an attempt to disprove the historical Jesus. By he same token, its goal is not to create a historically plausible figure from the bits of evidence available, but rather to assess the nature and weight of the evidence itself. Attempts in the 19th and twentieth century to discredit all elements of the gospel record were pronounced a failure, though largely by a theologically driven method of inquiry. The JP will solicit the skills of New Testament scholars, historians, and social scientists in its deliberations. It acknowledges the bias and partiality of previous efforts to address this question, but regards the question as significant and deserving of greater attention than has been given it in previous decades. The proliferation of new theories of the non-historicity of Jesus, whatever their merits, and defenses of the historical Jesus whatever their weaknesses, make this an important area of investigation in the new millennium.

CSER wishes to stress that the members of the seminar will be selected by a vetting process, to be published in the form of announcements to universities, colleges and seminaries in March 2007. The davis conference does not constitute a session of the Project and speakers at this CSER conference have no formal connection to the Project.

The Seminar will meet twice a year—once in Amherst New York, and in Los Angeles California. Other venues may be announced as its work progresses and its conclusions are documented.


Anonymous Luiz Felipe Ribeiro said...

One of Ben Witherington's critique to the Jesus Seminar (and to which I agree completly)was that it was not truly representative of the Christian Origins' Scholarship. He points out in his "The Jesus Quest" that the initiative lacked participation from Scholars outside North America (Europe, Latin America) and from womem scholars. We could easily explain the absence of Latin American Scholars in an initiative like that, but what about Europe? And why not count with the expertise of scholars such as Paula Fredriksen or Elaine Pagels who have proven to be important to Early Christian Studies and to the Third Quest?
I wonder If we will encounter the same pattern of behaviour in the Jesus Project...

January 21, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the Jesus Seminar lacked women at one time, but they make up a rather large portion of the organization now: http://www.westarinstitute.org/Fellows/fellows.html

January 22, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Jesus Seminar contains many scholars from outside America and there are many female fellows. Likewise, there is a good number of women associates in the forum. Unfortunately Ben Wetherington dismissed the Seminar because it didn't come up with the same findings about Jesus as his own.A case of what I don't like I can damn.

February 01, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a rebuttal of Ben Witherington's critique of the seminar read Robert J Miller The Jesus Seminar and its critics (polebridge Press, 1999). By the way Elaine Pagels is assocaited with the Jesus Seminar and has spoken at its conferences.

February 01, 2007


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