Baker Academic

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's time to jettison the criterion of Semitic Influence

While I think that some of the traditional authenticity criteria might have a place in future Jesus research, I have been convinced that the two-sided criterion of Semitic Influence / Semitisms is beyond repair. The basic idea was that evidence of Aramaic or Hebrew influence in the Greek Gospel traditions betrays the words of Jesus. Otherwise, we might just be reading words attributed to Jesus by a Greek-speaking christian a generation later. While I adapt this criterion in my Historiographical Jesus and use it in conjunction with a broader method, I have now abandoned hope that this criterion can be rehabilitated. I was turned around by the monograph of Sang-il Lee. I was fortunate enough to read an early version of his dissertation written under the supervision of Loren Stuckenbruck. Stuckenbruck's chapter in Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity touches on Lee's topic, but also expands the argument. Stuckenbruck systematically deconstructs the premises upon which this criterion is based. I write a synopsis of Stuckenbruck's chapter in the introduction:

Chris and I knew that Loren's chapter would be a home run. But even with high expectations, we were positively giddy when we read his essay for the first time. It was kind of like watching an expert demolition crew implode Yankee Stadium in a matter of moments. We will be excited to have Prof. Stuckenbruck all the way from Munich for our conference in Dayton.



  1. I'd love to hear Maurice Casey's response to this, or that of one of his disciples! Any chance of inviting such a dialogue?

  2. Okay, you've convinced me. I'm going to buy the book. My only question is whether or not I should wait for special conference pricing or buy it now?