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I received this video yesterday and watched it in one sitting. By some coincidence I had been reading Stephen Neil’s Interpretation of the NT and by extension Schweitzer’s Quest for the Historical Jesus.
I must say that the production left me with an odd sense that Jesus is hobbled and gagged by modern criticism – even from those more sympathetic to him. It is not quite the same as Thomas Jefferson’s bible or the Jesus Seminar – but similar.
Every time I heard the phrase: “Expert” (including you Ben) I was told that there is a new priesthood in town that will edit the NT text for you. You will be in danger of the wrong interpretation if you try to read/study the NT inductively.
The production winds its way toward the passion narratives and makes the point that these were probably written first, followed by other sayings and the nativity stories. While not all the sayings/parables are suspect – it is hard to remember, without a program, which fail the dissimilarity rule and which don’t. No doubt it depends upon who the expert is.
I am pretty clear how this form of scholarship came to be and I appreciate the effort that has accrued. But putting it all together leaves a strange impression. If one can mainly trust the passion narratives we are left with a “gospel” message heavily weighted toward soteriology – an issue that was discussed here recently and experienced by many of us in our evangelical parishes. It is hard enough for us to get a sense of the overall thought of Jesus – to catch the rhythm of the thrust of his message – what with chapter headings, verse numbering and interspersed notes in our study bibles. But we must also contend with historicity that applies and doesn’t apply as we read a passage. Is the chasm between the Jesus of history and the Jesus of faith yawning open again?
Hi Dave: In a word no. The Jesus Seminar is waning. And there is nothing in that film that suggests 45% of Jesus’ sayings he didn’t say. Indeed the whole thrust of the first two disks is that the material from the birth narratives and ministry is historically substantive, including Jesus’ words. So, I’m afraid you got the wrong impression. But you are certainly right on the point that mere inductive Bible study of an English translation is insufficient if you really want to understand God’s Word. BW3
Are we able to buy this dvd yet, I haven’t found it on my PBS schedule? Phil Niemi
Its available on Amazon.
It is indeed, and also at Olive Branch Creative, a bit cheaper.
Yes, there are a handful of very religious people, who have failed to regurgitate the poison they were fed at mothers knee, and who’ve managed to get a degree in history or archaeology, and who feel a desperate need to twist reality to suit what they wish were true. However, there is a huge army of honest historians, archaeologists and linguists who remain unbiased by religious dogma, and this massive army of genuine scholars tells us that there is simply NOT a single shred of evidence, outside of the bible, that Jesus ever existed. Even many otherwise very religious scholars admit this. And there is a lot of money to be made by telling Christians what they so desperately want to hear. YOU CAN HAVE YOUR OWN “TRUTH”, BUT YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR OWN FACTS.
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