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The Historical Jesus Versus Faith?
Someone called Pontius Pilate lived. An inscription from Caesarea
No direct evidence that Jesus lived exists. All the evidence is secon-
Wilhemine Braun takes Bob Schacht to task for stepping out of his
anthropologist's shoes. I agree with Willi.
Lew Reich and Mike Phillips debate what Torah observant sect Jesus was
closest to. I begin in my book the chapter "In Search of the Historical
Jesus" with, "Jesus was a Jewish Messiah."
Yet none of us are right. Nor are we likely to be as long as we bring
our preconceptions to the analysis.
We might begin with our sources, since all are secondary, even Paul's
letters are copies.
Provenance is important. How near to the sources are our documents?
Right now, even the DSS's times of creation are in dispute, ranging from
late Maccabean times to the sixth decade of the Current Era. This
really means their last date of origins range from 60 years before to 60
years after the Turn of the Era as Denny the Dwarf calculated it. These
documents are still only partly analyzed. Yet they contain a great deal
of information about the religious ferment of that time and its mix.
I have rarely noted R. H. Eisenman's name in the discussions lately. I
suspect, because he found favor with the "pop" writers like myself, he
fell into disfavor among the "experts" (I we know what John F. Kennedy
said about them).
The date of find is firm for the Nag Hammadi codices. The dates of
creation of that corpus is another question yet answered.
Do we have any surviving texts of LXX before 1st c. CE? The Massora
goes only back to the 900's CE. Jerome's Vulgate is much earlier and
from the LXX. I must say that the DSS texts confirm both, first one
then the other.
The existence of the NT canon is well attested by fragments and refer-
ences in other texts. A subindustry of scholarship mines that field.
The Rabbinic texts are perhaps more cleanly datable. However, there is
a growing controversy over the nature of their biases, similar to that
faced among NT scholars. And, they are late. I'd like to see a rundown
of their appearances, even jots and tittles could help.
Sifting all this data requires us to pay attention to Willi's admonition
to Bob. You must stay in the shoes of your discipline. Let faith come
from your labors.
I think you have all seen my brief note on the fever of Paul's conver-
sion. IMO, this was a personal encounter with Jesus. It fed on Paul's
Fourth Philosophy biases, and, again, IMO, fed on the Greek thought that
his journeys through the Grecian world offered and which had nurtured him. He
was a Graecized Jew. The Jesus of today's conventional faiths is Paul's
But although I don't agree with Bob's unsaid bias toward supernatural
sources, I do agree with him that there was more to Jesus than another
Hillel. Whatever that was, it went to the heart of Paul's being. As
with Willi, I think HJ is recoverable.
The rest is history - for us to dig out.
This may be my last post for a while. I'll be watching.