Baker Academic

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Dagmar Winter

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Dagmar Winter in person. She and I have corresponded for a couple years now but had never met in person. Tomorrow (well, later today) she will present on the topic of the Criterion of Double Dissimilarity. Her book The Quest for the Plausible Jesus (co-written with one of my heroes, Gerd Theissen) systematically destroyed a wildly successful (but misleading) notion within Jesus research.

The idea behind this criterion for authenticity was as follows. If we can locate an element of Jesus' preaching that (1) has no parallel with Second Temple Judaism and (2) has no parallel with Early Christianity, we can be assured that this saying was not invented. To be fair to Bultmann and company, the idea here was not to argue that Jesus could have only preached completely original sermons. Nor were they arguing that Jesus had nothing in common with his social context. Bultmann was very interested in locating Jesus within his time and place. What the Form Critics were arguing is that our safest and most solid ground for discussing what Jesus sounded like (before he became a mouth-piece for Christian doctrine anachronistically) is to locate Jesus' most innovative sayings. Sayings that don't borrow from Judaism or Christianity. This criterion became a guidepost for three (perhaps four) generations of Jesus scholarship.

Then along come Dagmar Winter and Gerd Theissen. They completely reinvented this notion from the ground up. In his book on the Death of Jesus, Scot McKnight says this: “The recent monograph of Theissen and Winter has laid to rest, permanently, any idea that the criterion is either disinterested, objective historiography or that it can achieve anything like a consensus.”

can't wait for tomorrow's offerings here in Dayton,


p.s. see this link to watch our conference via live stream on your computer:

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