The Jesus Project

I was recently nominated and invited to become a fellow of The Jesus Project, and I’ve accepted. Most readers of this blog will know that I’ve actively participated in conversations and interactions with a number of other fellows on matters related to the historical figure of Jesus. So I figured I might as well make it “official”. To get a sense of what the project is about, there are a number of helpful articles by various participants.

I’ll leave you with a couple of thoughts about a quote from the project’s co-chair R. Joseph Hoffmann: “The Jesus of the Westar Project is a talking doll with a questionable repertoire of thirty-one sayings. Pull a string and he blesses the poor.” If the Jesus of the Jesus Seminar seems suspect to some of us, I’m sure that the feeling is mutual. Yet even though I know that talk of aiming for “objectivity” is frowned upon these days, simply accepting that everyone will make a Jesus that suits them seems worthy of at least as harsh a frown. Although I would scarcely claim to be objective, I do not think that the failure to achieve an ideal makes striving for it any less worthwhile, and I think that the closest we can come is when we open our views and conclusions to criticism from those who disagree with us. And as I know that I disagree sharply on some issues with some other fellows of the Jesus Project, this should be a wonderful opportunity!

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  • John Shuck

    Great! I am glad to see that and I agree with what you said about objectivity. I look forward to your insights. BTW, were you ever with the Jesus Seminar? If not, it seems you would be a super addition to that group, too!

  • James F. McGrath

    No, I was never with the Jesus Seminar. It might have been fun – I got my students in my historical Jesus class to try their methodology. We'd discuss a passage or saying, and then I had them drop M&Ms; (the colors of which took the place of red, pink, grey and black marbles) in a box to vote.We called ourselves the Jesus SeM&Minar..;.

  • Steven Carr

    Congratulations!Does this make you part of the mainstream?Or does it make the Jesus Project part of the mainstream?How frequent are JP meetings?

  • Reformed Baptist

    Since I have always been biased toward stoicism, I thought that I could come up with my own method. Any sayings in Paul and Jesus that agree with the stoics are authentic, and any sayings that conflict with stoic philosophy would be ruled an addition by the later Christian Church. I am sure someone has beat me to this idea. I think Crossan is close (Cynic hippy Jesus), but I of course would disagree with some of his conclusions.

  • James F. McGrath

    Steven, was I ever outside the mainstream? :) The Jesus Project is trying to be broad, but if there is one thing I would like to see happen, it is participation by a few more individuals who have clearly been among the major contributors to the academic study of the historical Jesus.

  • Ben

    Coolness. Glad to see you aboard. I hope things move along and make worthwhile progress.Ben

  • AIGBusted

    Wow James! I’m proud of you! I think you’ll make a great addition to the Jesus Project.