Baker Academic

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Quarterly Quote of the Month about Jesus for This Week

The basic fact is that Christianity as it was born in the mind of this Jewish thinker and teacher appears as a technique of survival for the oppressed. That it became, through the intervening years, a religion of the powerful and the dominant, used sometimes as an instrument of oppression, must not tempt us into believing that it was thus in the mind and life of Jesus. 'In him was life; and the life was the light of men.' Wherever his spirit appears, the oppressed gather fresh courage; for he announced the good news that fear, hypocrisy, and hatred, the three hounds of hell that track the trail of the disinherited, need have no dominion over them.

                         ~Howard Thurman

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Congratulations, Mike Holmes!—Chris Keith

Juan Hernandez shared on Facebook that Mike Holmes is retiring at Bethel University and also shared this video.

I'd like to take a moment and offer my sincere gratitude to Mike Holmes for his 35 1/2 years of service not only to Bethel but to the field of New Testament scholarship, especially text criticism.  Mike is a great scholar, but he's also an absolutely wonderful person.  He has encouraged me personally from the very beginning of my career and I've always been appreciative of that.  We've continued to be friends, and I was even honored to pose with him in 2015 at the SNTS in Amsterdam.  (Everyone was posing with their spouses.  Since our spouses weren't there, we posed together.)  Congratulations, Mike!!  Tell us where the SBL party will be, and we'll be there!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Render to Caesar....

Today friend of the program, Loren Rosen III posted this on Facebook. Not only is it an interesting conversation starter, I thought that his survey question summarized the various views quite nicely. He writes:

Happy Tax Day. I “rendered to Caesar” this morning.

But here’s something to ponder: Jesus command to “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”, was... what?

(A) A clear distinction between religion and politics, implying that Caesar’s taxes were lawful and should be paid. Jesus was trying to transform the individual heart above all. While he opposed exploitation of the poor, he identified the problem not in sociopolitical structures but in individuals. (Martin Hengel, Victory over Violence.)

(B) An enigma which deliberately left the issue unresolved. Jesus wanted to make people think for themselves and decide on their own if Caesar and God were compatible. On top of this, he “probably slipped the coin into his purse while they were haggling over what he told them.” (Robert Funk, The Five Gospels.)

(C) A paradoxical command to revolt and pay taxes at the same time. Jesus was protesting both against Caesar as a false lord and against tax-evading revolutionaries. His punchline meant: “Pay back Caesar as he deserves, and give God the divine honor claimed by Caesar.” In so doing he was implying that tax-evading revolutionaries were the true compromisers with Rome. (N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God.)

(D) A cryptic way of saying that Caesar’s taxes were unlawful but should be paid “with contempt” in order to rid the land of idolatry. Jesus’ punchline meant: “Give Caesar back his filthy coins, and give your total allegiance to God, so that Caesar and his coins may be removed from God’s land.” People should pay their taxes in contempt or as an act of non-violent resistance, meaning that Caesar had no valid claim on people, even if he was entitled to his filthy currency. (William Herzog, Jesus, Justice, and the Reign of God.)

(E) A cryptic way of saying that Caesar’s taxes were unlawful and should not be paid at all. Jesus’ punchline meant: “Give Caesar nothing, God everything.” Jesus believed no one could serve two masters at the same time (Mt. 6:24/Lk. 16:13) and followed the early Israelite tradition that since God was king, no one else could be (Judg. 8:22-23; I Sam 8:4-7; Hos. 8:4). (Richard Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence.)

Thanks for your permission to repost this, Loren!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Holy Thursday Post: Was the Last Supper a Passover Meal?

One of the primary reasons it took me almost ten years to write Jesus and the Last Supper (Eerdmans, 2015), is because it took time to work through the complex debate over the date of the Last Supper.

Was the Last Supper a Jewish Passover meal? Or was it celebrated 24 hours in advance? Do John and the Synoptic Gospels contain different chronologies of the death of Jesus?

Here's an interview that I did for this year's celebration of Passover that gives an overview of some of my findings.

And to all those who celebrate, best wishes for a sacred Triduum.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Quarterly Quote of the Month about Jesus for this Week

Study of the historical Jesus belongs to the diversity and pluralism of modernity, or, if you prefer, postmodernity, and there can be no easy appeal to the consensus on much of anything. The biblical guild is not a group-mind thinking the same thoughts. Nor are the experts a single company producing a single product, "history." As Chesterton says somewhere: "There is no history; there are only historians." The unification of academic opinion would be almost as miraculous as the union of the churches. If you are holding your breath waiting for the consensus of the specialists, you will pass out.

   ~Dale C. Allison Jr.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Issue 14.3 of JSHJ

Check out the latest issue of Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus.