I continue my interview with James G. Crossley below. The first part of this interview can be found here.
AL: Assuming that none of us are immune to bias – that we have ideologies that guide our research and script our conclusions (to some extent), should we run from these scripts? embrace them? are there other options?
JGC: Yes and no. In historical Jesus studies (and history more broadly) ideological clashes are always at work at some level but also there are perspectives, whether we like them or not, that produce different questions and maybe even helpful answers. I don’t see much point in trying to run from perspectives as such. I still think Thomas Haskell’s claim that “objectivity is not neutrality” (partly generated, incidentally, in his review of Novick’s reading of American historians) is helpful. From this perspective, an ideological position (not neutral) can be guided by some degree of detachment and distancing which does not put the interpreter’s own perspective at the centre of the universe. I mean, many arguments still stand or fall by the evidence and that’s how we all try to work (even if some scholars still imply they are sufficiently detached from ideology).
Having said that, there are a million and one contradictory Jesuses so maybe there is no future. But maybe there are ways around that too…more to follow this week...