Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Seminar’

Deeper Waters Podcast 2/1/2014: Mark Goodacre

January 30, 2014

What’s coming up on 2/1/14 on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters!

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The Gospel of Thomas is a work that most date to the second century in NT studies, but there are some exceptions. If you picked up a book made by the Jesus Seminar called “The Five Gospels” you’d find that that fifth Gospel is Thomas. John Dominic Crossan, for instance, dates the work to the first century.

What is the Gospel of Thomas and does it really date that far back? Should it really have been in the canon or is the Jesus Seminar getting something wrong here? For this, I decided to talk to someone who has recently written a book to show that in fact, Thomas depends on the synoptics Gospels.

That’s Dr. Mark Goodacre. Goodacre studied at the Exeter College at the University of Oxford in the U.K. earning a B.A. in theology followed by a Master’s and PH.D. in NT Research. He currently is professor of NT and Christian origins at Duke University in North Carolina and is the host of the NT Pod and runs the NTWeblog that can be found here. More on Goodacre can be found here.

Dr. Goodacre will be telling us about his reasons for thinking that the Gospel of Thomas depends on the Synoptics which would both lead to an early dating possibly for the Synoptics as well as a late dating for the Gospel of Thomas.

While he’s here, I also plan on having us discuss Goodacre’s theory of Q. Much of NT scholarship places great emphasis on a source for the NT called Q. Q is short for Quelle, the German word for source, and is supposed to be a source that was used by the writers of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

There is a problem however.

We have never once found a document that is Q.

Despite this, numerous theories have been built on Q and what it looked like. Some scholars like Burton Mack have even made layers that are supposed to be within Q and have made claims about different communities that have different levels of those layers and what they believed about the historical Jesus.

Goodacre’s position is definitely in the minority, but it is one that I think we should all be listening to. After all, if the majority in this case is wrong, we want to know it. If Goodacre’s case is not right (And I’m quite skeptical of Q myself so I’m open to it), then those who hold to the Q theory can get to see some of the best objections to their theory getting us closer to what the truth is in any case.

So please be sure to be joining me this Saturday for a fascinating conversation with Dr. Mark Goodacre. The show will be airing from 3-5 PM EST on Saturday, 2/1/2014. As always, if you want to call in and ask a question, you can use the number 714-242-5180 to do so.

The link to the show can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Jesus Quest

June 28, 2013

Where does Ben Witherington see the quest going? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

In The Jesus Quest, Ben Witherington surveys many of the latest writings (at the time) on the historical Jesus by scholars and critiques them. Rarely does he make a statement about his own view. He interacts with all sides, but he does seem to have more non-Christian scholars being critiqued rather than Christian ones.

The book starts with a quite brief explanation of the first two quests that could be read in about ten minutes or so. This gets us then into the third quest, which is of course the meat of the work. The start before looking at the various views of Jesus is looking at the views of Galilee.

As Witherington says, the quest for the historical Jesus is also becoming the quest for the historical Galilee. We cannot separate Jesus from the time and the culture that He lived in and understanding this has been an essential step in looking at who the man was and the way He saw Himself and the way His contemporaries saw Him.

At this point, Witherington does his readers a great service by familiarizing them with many aspects of the culture of Jesus that would not be known by most. For instance, he gives a brief explanation of an honor/shame culture and what it means to say a society believes in limited good.

The next chapter goes into looking at the Jesus Seminar and their methodology. Witherington points out that a minority of fellows on the voting panel could think Jesus did not say something and yet it will still show up in the results that Jesus did not say it despite it was the opinion of a minority. Also of course, there’s the troubling aspect that the group had a bias against miracles and did not represent members from leading educational institutions or even other countries.

So now we get into more specific looks. Witherington’s first group is the cynic sage group which consists of Crossan, Mack, and Downing. Next are the ones who see Jesus as a man of the Spirit, which includes Borg, Vermes, and Twelftree. (Twelftree being the first Christian being reviewed) For Jesus as an eschatological prophet, the views critiqued are that of Sanders and Casey. Next is the prophet of social change where Witherington interacts with Theissen, Horsley, and Kaylor. In the seventh chapter, there’s a look at the Jesus as the Wisdom of God, though from a different perspective, the feminist scholarship of Fiorenza. It is in this chapter Witherington goes into the most detail of his own view of Jesus as God’s Wisdom. Finally, he reviews the idea of Jesus as a marginal Jew and as a Jewish Messiah. Knowledgeable readers should recognize John Meier for the first view. For the second, Witherington critiques Stuhlmacher, Dunn, De Jonge, Bockmuehl, and finally, N.T. Wright.

Witherington’s book provides an excellent read. Witherington is known to have a fascinating memory and is a fair critiquer. He points out benefits made from the views of others and is dismayed that some people will not read their books due to their wild ideas. He treats the Christian authors just as critically.

I was dismayed at Witherington’s arguments when it came to eschatological passages like Mark 13. For instance, Witherington says that passages like Mark 14:62 and 13:26 are not about vindication as Wright says since Casey says that the events of God’s judgment take place on Earth but not in Heaven. I do not think Wright would disagree with this! It is the point that earthly events are a sign of what is going on in the Heavens. I am under the impression that Witherington sees 1 Thess. 4 and the Olivet Discourse as referring to the same event, when I do not see that at all. After all, if the Olivet Discourse is the same as 1 Thess. 4, it strikes me as odd that the resurrection would be left out of that.

In spite of all of this, a reader wanting to learn about the quest for the historical Jesus and about interacting with the scholarship on the quest will be benefited by reading Witherington. My concerns after all are about a secondary matter and do not drive away from the value on primary issues that this book addresses. For those who want to know about leading scholarship in this field, I recommend it without hesitation.

In Christ,
Nick Peters