conference in Dayton, both Chris and I are reviewing Dale Allison's chapter in our recently published book. Dale Allison is quite dear to both of us for several reasons and (just a guess) I think that both of our comments will take a very appreciative tone.
I imagine, however, that my review will push back a bit harder than Chris' will. This has nothing to do with our personalities - Chris can push back with the best of them (just ask J.K. Elliott). My bones are with the theme of "disillusionment" (to steal a word from Allison's chapter title) that undermines his confidence in making historical claims about Jesus.
If you'd like a window into the last 25 years of Jesus research and the shifting tendencies that mark this period, Allison's chapter is a must read. His autobiographical reflections in this chapter run deep and cannot be summarized here. But here is an excerpt. He argues
If you've read some of my work on Jesus and memory, you'll know that I concur with Allison's assessment of the frailty of human memory and the necessarily creative elements of memory. But where this becomes a problem for Allison, I do not find myself disillusioned - not in the least. I will not say much more here, but I do not think that "uncertainty" is a cause for concern for the historian. Therefore I am quite optimistic with Allison's suggestion that general impressions of Jesus might yield a great deal of fruit when the Jesus tradition is observed in toto. Dale suggests that episodes in the Jesus tradition that have been judged to be "inauthentic" can contribute to this overall impressionistic portrait of Jesus. For Allison this is a decided step away from nailing down historical facts. I understand historical facts and the ways that they are handled by historians differently.
I look forward to having this conversation in person on Friday.