Baker Academic

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jesus Blog Interview with James G. Crossley - Part One

Over the next couple weeks I will be posting parts of my interview with Sheffield University's James G. Crossley. I'd like to thank him for answering most of my questions honestly.

AL: Dr. Crossley, the Jesus Blog has taken a survey monkey poll and determined that you are the sexiest Jesus scholar who ever lived. You beat out Ernst Renan by a narrow margin. So let me begin by asking, what is your secret? 

JGC: Just for Men Touch of Grey

AL: Of the two main characters in the film Harold and Maude, with whom do you most identify?

JGC: After googling “Harold and Maude” and watching it on Wikipedia, I would like to think Maude and that I’d have a chirpy outlook on life in the face of death, though I’ve no desire to finish any earlier than I really have to. But, given the descent in to middle age, I’ll probably be more like Harold earlier on the film. But really wanting to be him in the end. Now that is an answer considering I’ve still not seen the film.

AL: Judging from that sulfurous-agnostic smell that you emit, my guess is that you’re into assessing “ideological underpinnings” and that sort of nonsense. Why should scholars care about our own life situations? If we just keep our eyes on Jesus, we should be able to just be objective, right?
JGC: Yes, but only 50-60% of the time because I still like ancient history, especially (and for reasons I cannot explain) details of purity law and language in the Mark 7. Still, I do enjoy that sort of nonsense to which you allude. Why should scholars care? Well, as I see it in part, ideological critique of scholarship is another part of human history (more contemporary obviously) so anyone interested in contemporary history and culture might care (or: enjoy) it. Other than enjoyment, ideological critique of scholarship can help unravel how we got here in the history of ideas and how the kinds of assumptions we hold might not be eternal and might just be a product of contemporary history. Certainly this sort of critique can also show us where scholars have gone wrong but I’m not against one eye on Jesus. Negotiating past and present (including asking modern questions) can also produce creative ways of understanding historical development and the ways in which the figure of Jesus fits in to historical change. We can use ancient history as part of a larger historical and genealogical narrative, just as we can use contemporary history.  
And who doesn’t want to be horrible to other scholars with the “get out clause” that we’re also part of the problem so that’s ok then, isn’t it?

More will be posted tomorrow...

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