Free on-line is Vol 7,1 of the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus. The interesting article by Crossley, "Writing about the historical Jesus: Historical Explanation and the 'Big Why' questions or Antiquarian Empiricism and Victorian Tomes" has the following abstract:
This article points out that lives of Jesus have been dominated by individualism, fact-finding, exegesis and description. This stands in contrast to the ways in which historical reconstruction has been practised in other disciplines in the humanities and in contrast to the ways in which some biographers and historians see the role of the individual in historical change. Even when
there have been attempts to use the social sciences in historical Jesus studies, if the result is not merely descriptive and exegetical, then the reception of such approaches in scholarship still tends to focus on the individual reconstructed rather than on potential methodological developments relating to historical change. This article will suggest ways in which the individual and descriptive emphases can be complemented by wider ranging socio-historical reconstructions designed to explain historical change, or, more generally, how we get
from Jesus to Christian origins.
After examining examples of individualistic biographical studies of the historical Jesus (labeled Victorian), Crossley proposes the discipline of social sciences as an antidote to individualism. We have to account for the emergence of the early Christian movement from what can be said about Jesus.
Noting that "Jesus’ mission to Jewish sinners can therefore provide the crucial link to the inclusion of gentile sinners in earliest Christianity" and that "There were Jewish-gentile social connections at synagogues, the workplace, and a variety of associations, 55 not to mention a range of gentiles interested in Judaism. With these connections in place the scene was now set for the emergence of what would ultimately become a gentile religion," Crossley outlines possible future studies including the role of women in early Christianity.
The article is a useful overview of studies and issues involved in the topic of the historical Jesus.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
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