As this blog should indicate, Anthony and I both have vested interests in historical Jesus studies and their lively future. We also share the fact that those interests—to the best of our knowledge and intentions—are not apologetic in nature. We, like many others, are quite happy to come to conclusions that more conservative (whatever that means) people might shy from if we believe the evidence leads us in that direction, quite happy to publish those findings, and, in Anthony’s case, to be fired for doing so (doubt he was that happy about that one though). Nevertheless, and highlighting the tragic nature of what happened at our previous employer, Anthony and I are also both confessional Christians, preach and teach in church, and I even hold ordination. We also, then, have vested interests in the Church and its relationship to scholarship. And we will find room for such discussions on this blog, as the relationship between historical Jesus research and the Church is indeed an aspect of historical Jesus research and always has been.
In that vein, one of the events that I’m most looking forward to at the 2012 Jesus Conference in Dayton here in a couple weeks is a roundtable discussion where we will discuss the contribution of Scot McKnight to the book. Unfortunately, Scot was not able to come to the conference. But his essay is important in its suggestion that the “authentic Jesus,” or even more broadly any Jesus that historical Jesus research produces, is irrelevant for the Church and its Jesus. This is, of course, not new, as Martin Kähler argued along these lines famously. But Scot offers some new reasons for taking this position.
There are, however, among our panelists, several scholars who would argue the opposite—that the Jesus produced by historical Jesus research is drastically important to the Church and how it functions in society. Scot won’t be there to respond unfortunately, but nevertheless the opportunity to hear Dale Allison, Dagmar Winter, Mark Goodacre, Rafael Rodríguez, Jens Schröter, and others weigh in on this topic should be fantastic! Of course, this will be one of several topics discussed, but I’m looking forward to this one.