Monday, November 30, 2009

The Historical Jesus: Five Views - A Review 8 - Responses to Dunn

One of Dunn's major points is that scholarship needs to take the oral tradition more seriously than it does. In light of that many of the responses responded to this very issue. Both Price and Crossan complain that the oral tradition (how ever long or short it may be) was sufficient time to allow for embellishments to develop. Price cites von Harnack's "famous" measurement of the "distance between the parable of the prodigal son and the Pauline preaching of the atonement." (229) He then asks, "If Jesus had known the conditions of salvation would have altered so drastically in a matter of a few weeks, would he have wasted his breath on a parable teaching people that simple repentance was sufficient for salvation? Hardly." Crossan says that his research shows that "the Jesus of history who proclaimed love of enemies based on the character of God (now in the Q Gospel at Matthew 4:43-45 // Luke 6:27-36) to be already perverted by the Christ of faith who will return as a transcendental killer in the book of Revelation." (234, emphasis his) He further chides Dunn for not taking into consideration "either eschatalogical Judaism or Roman imperialism in the Jewish homeland or Jesus' nonviolent resistance from the former against the latter" as "equally inadequate." (237, emphasis his) Crossan also quickly responds to Dunn's claim that we don't know how Jesus impacted others with this: "We have very clear evidence of his impact on Pilate. It is called crucifixion." (237)

Luke Timothy Johnson says that Dunn's "complaint that such oral tradition has been ignored by scholars is off base." (241) Dunn is too quick to dismiss the fruit of form criticism since it does not provide the results he's looking for: namely, the "traces of pre-Easter oral tradition deriving from Jesus' first followers." (241) Johnson says the basic criticism of all those who are after the "oral tradition" is the same: "whatever oral processes may have preceded the composition of the Gospels, only the written texts are now available to us." (242) Furthermore, all the variations of similarity or dissimilarity in the Gospels can be better explained "by the process of literary transmission and redaction than through variations in oral performance." (242) Finally, Johnson says "searching for a Jewish Jesus is not a historiographical principle or criterion but a predetermined goal" and fails to tackle the "truly difficult question" of "what constitutes 'Jewish' in first century Palestine." (243) Bock found much to agree with with minor caveats and nuances to Dunn's overall essay.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What constitutes Judaic in the 1st century is solidly documented (e.g., inter alia, Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT). It's just inconvenient for the prevailing agendas.

Deal with

(especially their History Museum pages)