We will be participating in an upcoming conference that focuses on the traditional methods and criteria employed by Jesus historians.
From the conveners: The thesis that drives this conference is that business as usual in Jesus studies is over. This conference will be hosted by Lincoln Christian University (central Illinois) on October 4-5, 2012. It will feature Dale Allison, Chris Keith, Mark Goodacre, Jens Schröter, Loren Stuckenbruck, Rafael Rodríguez, Dagmar Winter, Scot, Anthony Le Donne and others.
For specific details about the conference and to register, you can check out this website: http://www.lincolnchristian.edu/JesusConference/
The following is by Anthony Le Donne: Before I had taken my present post at LCU, Chris Keith (who already taught there) was kind enough to look through my (then unpublished): Historical Jesus: What Can We Know and How Can We Know It? (Eerdmans, 2011). Chris and I met for coffee in San Diego and he brought a marked copy of my manuscript. He offered me several helpful suggestions for improvement, most of which I accepted happily. This occasion was the first time he challenged me on my use of the traditional authenticity criteria. I argued that, with a redefined notion of ‘authenticity’, criteria like ‘Multiple Attestation’ and ‘Embarrassment’ might still have a place in the Jesus historian’s toolbox. Chris was adamant that these traditional criteria are in utter disrepair, to a degree that no amount of ‘redefinition’ could help. We both agreed that the criteria of ‘Dissimilarity’ and ‘Semitic Influence’ were broken.
This began a three year debate (often heated but always good-natured) between Chris and myself on this topic, especially after I joined him as a colleague at LCU. Chris’s side of the argument calcified into this essay: “Memory and Authenticity: Jesus Tradition and What Really Happened.” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, 102.2 (2011): 155-77.
As our conversations about historiography in Jesus research intensified and was carried out at various conferences and other academic gatherings, we realized many, many folks within the field of New Testament studies were eager to chime in. It occurred to us then that we had hit a nerve within NT studies. Jesus historians are divided on how to use these criteria; some have discontinued their use altogether. Others (following Morna Hooker) have always viewed them with suspicion. Moreover, a host of literary, Pauline, and Second Temple specialists have held strong misgivings toward historical Jesus research part and parcel with their misgivings about these criteria. About a year ago it became clear that this swelling discontent needed a pressure valve.
The result is this T&T Clark publication of Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity. The link to the book is here (Amazon is here). The book will be available for the first time at our conference (at a discounted rate). And, as all of the book’s authors will be presenting, the conference will function as a live book review.
We expect a very lively conversation and are inviting in several respected respondents such as Tom Thatcher, Clare Rothschild, and James McGrath, inter alia. While all involved with this project acknowledge that business as usual in Jesus studies has failed, most of us have a fairly optimistic outlook for the future of the discipline. We heartily welcome you to come and participate as we clear away a few of the crumbling foundations of previous generations.