Baker Academic

Friday, January 29, 2016

McGrath's Memes

James McGrath has a great post illustrating historical plausibility.

Here is my favorite:


  1. Focusing on the two major points in McGrath's remarks, I wonder if scholars can walk in the shoes of both those who want a closer look at the gist of Jesus' sayings and deeds as well as at the limitations of the criteria of authenticity. Or will the brilliant individualist battles have no end.

    When Allison debated with Borg, Crossan, and Patterson (Apocalyptic Jesus, ed. Robert Miller, 2002) the problem was getting agreement on the gist of Jesus: Allison wanted an apocalyptic prophet and the other three wanted a wisdom teacher. As usual there was little consideration that both views might have truth in them.

    On the matter of authenticity criteria, if one reads the earlier articles and publications by the Jesus Seminar members, there is little doubt that their enthusiasm saw a more literal HJ than what has subsequently emerged. Now the red/pink sayings are seen as pointing to the gist of Jesus' teachings, but of course, for the Seminar the gist is slanted toward wisdom and away from apocalyptic.

    I would offer that neither extreme here needs to be rejected and that both point to the gist of Jesus. Its true that Jesus had plenty of kingdom wisdom for here and now relationships, but his teachings also included a larger context: e.g., hidden to visible (Leaven, Luke 13:20-31), tiny to huge (Mustard Seed, Thomas 20:2-4), ripening to Harvesting (Seed and Harvest, Mark 4:26-29), a coming phenomenon (Impose your rule, Luke 11:2), but also present everywhere hidden from view across the earth (Coming of God's kingdom; Thomas 113:1-4, Luke 17:20-21).

    One wonders what Jesus expected traveling to Jerusalem for the last time.

    Gene Stecher
    Chambersburg, Pa.

  2. McGrath wrote, referring to Allison,"...if they got the gist right, then even inauthentic and imprecise sayings are likely to be pointing in the right general direction."

    First, who would argue that any of the sayings are not imprecise? Secondly, what are the guidelines for determining gist. Which of the following is the gist of Jesus: wisdom teacher (walk the 2nd mile), apocalyptic prophet (the son of man is coming), giver of new law (you have heard, but I say), divine mediator (I and the Father are one), miracle worker (and his sight was restored), anti-purity advocate (what comes out of a man defiles), kingdom preacher (the kingdom of God is like), forgiver of sin (stand up and walk), challenger to paying taxes (give Caesar and God what belongs to each), teacher of prayer (Father hallowed by thy name), advocate for social upheaval (1st shall be last),

    So what are the best criteria for defining gist?

    Gene Stecher
    Chambersburg, Pa.