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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

BNTC Jesus Seminar (Exeter, 2007)

I'll get back to responding to some of that resurrection stuff soon and something on EABS/ISBL soon. As a treat here is an exclusive preview of the British New Testament Conference Jesus seminar (as ever, not to be confused with the American Jesus Seminar):

Cameron Freeman (Flinders University of South Australia), 'The Faith of Jesus and the History of Christ'
This paper offers a new perspective on the quest for the historical Jesus that can forge a "third way" between two diametrically opposed positions within mainstream New Testament scholarship, i.e. between those who attempt to re-construct a new vision of the Jesus of history and who who want to preserve the Christ of the traditional faith. In undertaking this task, it will be shown that the same paradoxical structure constitutes the centerpiece of all of the most well-known parables of Jesus that were remembered, re-told and handed down to us by the early Christian communities. In other words, there is a stable pattern of bi-polar reversals that underpins all of Jesus' core teachings on the kingdom of God, whereby what is holy in one context suddenly becomes blasphemous, while what is blasphemous in the same context suddenly becomes holy. I will then show that this paradoxical structure, or the "co-existence of opposites with the tension between them" also sits at the heart of orthodox Christianity as given by the 'truly human, truly divine' Christology of the Chalcedon confession. And as a result, I will argue that a language of paradox can offer a new and fruitful criterion for a) establishing what is authentic about the words attributed to Jesus in the New Testament gospels while b) showing how this historical reconstruction of Jesus can serve, at the same time, as a reliable foundation for the preservation of the Christian faith tradition.

Karen Wenell (University of Edinburgh), 'Methods and Message: Land Matters for Jesus'
This paper explores the methods used to construct the historical content of Jesus' overall message (rather than individual sayings), using Jesus' relationship to the biblical land promise as an exemplar. The Œkingdom is normally understood to be historical, that is, a central concept in the thought and mission of the historical figure of Jesus, even if individual sayings and parables of the kingdom are not accepted as authentic. Gerd Theissen and Dagmar Winter (The Quest for the Plausible Jesus, 2002) emphasise that we always begin our study of the historical Jesus with and idea of what he was like, and this understanding is tested and revised through the evaluation of sayings and actions. In relationship to the kingdom, land can be shown to be a relevant and lively aspect of Jesus' activity and message, even though sayings with direct reference to Œthe land are a scarce commodity. I will argue this case in relationship to first-century purity issues and the calling of the twelve disciples, placing Jesus and land issues in the context of Second Temple Judaism and also recognizing the varied strands of early Christian interpretation. The paper will then draw out and discuss some methodological questions raised by the inclusion of Œthe land as part of Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom. Might we be more precise about the relationship between textual pericopae and the content of an overall message or mission? Can we speak of an Œhistorical message at all? Where might we draw the boundaries of such a message?

Simon Gathercole (University of Cambridge) and Andrew Gregory (University of Oxford), 'The Non-Canonical Gospels and the Historical Jesus - Issues and Methods'


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