Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Jesus of History and the Jesus of Faith

"...could there be faith in the risen Jesus without research on the historical Jesus?...With those canonical gospels as inaugural models and primordial examples, each Christian generation must write its gospels anew, must first reconstruct its historical Jesus with the fullest integrity, and then say and live what that reconstruction means for the present life in this world. History and faith are always dialectic for incarnational Christianity..."

--John Dominic Crossan, "Historical Jesus as Risen Lord," in The Jesus Controversy: Perpectives in Conflict

As I understand him, Crossan wants to make a clear differentiation between the Jesus of history and the Jesus of faith. This paradoxical duality is meant to serve historical method in a way that almost splits the humanity of Jesus. Understood in an orthodox way, the humanity of Jesus is just as important as the divinity of Jesus. But Crossan wants to take the argument elsewhere. While I admire his historical integrity (I'm married to a historian, so I have to), I do question whether this split is appropriate 1) to the text and 2) to the body of believers. While one need not "believe" if Jesus lived or not (we have plenty of Roman records that state that a Jesus of Nazareth was put to death around 30 CE), the real question is of Jesus' position in 'religious' matters. If we split the historical Jesus and the Jesus of faith, do we depreciate both? While I think there is plenty to be learned by drawing this distinction, I'm not sure that in the final analysis this is entirely helpful to either history or faith.

What do you think?


At 12:22 AM, Blogger Looney said...

Perhaps this is the same as trying to disjoin the "son of man" from the "son of God" because it is awkward otherwise?

The teachers of the law had the same difficulty in Mark 2:1-12.

At 4:01 AM, Anonymous John said...

In this day and age "jesus" is essentially a cartoon character similar to the nieve childishness of the tooth fairy, santa claus and the easter bunny.

See for instance:

1. www.dabase.net/proofch6.htm#idol


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