Today I have spent a few hours thinking about historical Jesus methodology. How do we go about constructing a portrait of Jesus, what sources do we use, how do go about developing a hypothesis. Will be reading Sanders, Crossan, Wright and others in the next few weeks. I am hoping to develop N.T Wrights worldview approach tot eh historical Jesus whilst critiquing a methodlogy based on the ‘criteria of authenticity’. If anyone is interested in this kind of thing then please drop me a mail/message.
When we look at the historical Jesus, how do we look. We look from within our worldview. This is not a negative comment as if some people can look with purely neutral eyes. It is simply a fact. Yet Historical Jesus researches need to be aware that their worldview, whether being informed by atheism, materialism, or church dogma and tradition, is not necessarily the worldview shared by Jesus. We can come with our own categories, using Jesus to justify our own worldview, we can put him in a box. Jesus just doesn’t fit our 21st century boxes and categories. I have just read the following quote.
‘The historical Jesus resists attempts to modernize him. He was not a modern capitalist intoning the values of individualism and free enterprise, nor was he a modern socialist calling for a bureaucratic state. He was not a militarist who believed the sword can make the world safe for his values, nor was he a pacifist who thought conflict must be avoided at all costs. He was not a freedom fighter who believed that justice can come only through violence, nor did he turn aside from the struggle for human dignity because politics is a dirty business. He was not a champion of modern women’s rights, nor did he promote male power and prerogative as the bastion of civilized values. He was not a racist, hating Gentiles as foreigners, nor was he a world citizen who knew all people to be the same underneath a veneer of cultural difference. He was not a secularist who tried to establish separation of politics and religion, nor was he a fundamentalist who wished to impose a narrow, doctrinaire tradition upon all members of society. He did not intend to be the savior of the world; he intended to be a good Jew, faithfully following the path of conscience inspired by tradition and by the fresh presence of God. Above all else, he was a prophet in word and deed. He did not curry favor with the wealthy and powerful in order to garner their support for his reform movement. Neither did he pander condescendingly to the poor in order to use them in his enterprise. Like true prophets of the past, he fearlessly proclaimed God’s will as he saw it, letting offense or approval be the result of his message, not the shaper of it.1
1 R. David Kaylor, Jesus the Prophet: His Vision of the Kingdom on Earth (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox, 1994), p. 211.