Baker Academic

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Criterion of Coherence (Two Applications, both Problematic) - Le Donne

I have recently added my second chapter from this book to my page. Here is the abstract that I wrote for the book's introduction:

My own chapter in this book traces the development of the criterion of coherence from Johannes Weiss’ portrait of Jesus and Paul Schmiedel’s bifurcation of the Gospel tradition. I argue that coherence was applied in Jesus studies before the prominent years of form criticism, but became a sub-criterion of double dissimilarity within the programs of Bultmann, Käsemann, and Perrin. I then argue that Perrin’s application of coherence as a sub-criterion to dissimilarity is beyond repair and that both criteria should be abandoned. However, I suggest that recent adaptations of social memory theory might provide new life for the more general principle of coherence as employed from Weiss to John P. Meier. The chief problem with its present use is that New Testament studies works from a premise of binary (or ternary) opposites as they conceive of the divide between Jesus’ context and Christianity’s context. As long as Jesus historians  think  along  the lines  of  binary  opposites,  the  criterion  of coherence  will  continue  to  be  misleading.  Thus  Perrin’s  use of  the criterion  is  beyond  repair  and  Meier’s  use  must  be  rebuilt  from  the ground up.

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