Wednesday, February 03, 2010

On the congeniality of an apocalyptic Jesus

HELEN BOND finds an apocalyptic Jesus all too congenial to today's world and therefore no safeguard against distortion when we try to reconstruct the historical Jesus (Bible and Interpretation again). In the 1980s the Jesus Seminar found a Jesus that always looked to me suspiciously like a contemporary American humanities professor, so the problem is not new. The best rule of thumb is to try to follow the evidence on a detailed level where it leads, without assuming that any reconstruction is likely to be more objective in principle than any other. And it's also important to face the fact that our historical evidence for Jesus was not written with our interests in mind and may well not suffice for the type of historical reconstruction of his ministry and his teaching which we want.