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C O U R S E 
Jesus in Scripture and Tradition
Gary Anderson, University of Notre Dame
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Historical Jesus and the Importance of Criteria
Notes taken on November 29, 2016 by Edward Tanguay
what is meant by scholars when they say the historical Jesus?
what are the criteria that we use when we talk decide what is historical and what is not?
what do we mean when we talk about the real Nero or the real Caligula, or Reagan or Clinton
what we usually mean by the real person is a body of knowledge that approaches an extremely accurate record of every day of their life
obviously, ancient history is a different caliber for determining what is real in this sense
few sources
the idea of objectivity certainly wasn't there for ancient biographers
even the very significant figures are not well known in the sense of accuracy
we sense that Caligula was an evil kind of person since people who witness his murders communicated this, but he never communicated anything directly
but we don't know for certain to what degree Caligula was mad, sad, or bad
once you get past what Suetonius and Tacitus tell us in the way of gossip, what do we really know?
and this was one of the emperors
for Jesus
once you get down to the totally obscure Jew from Palestine who was born probably somewhere around 8-4 BC and lived to roughly around 30 AD, you get the sense that we're not going to have a vast amount of information here
but this is a problem we face with any ancient, historical figure
what we know with certitude about Alexander the Great could probably be fit onto a single page of print
and so we have problems here with the historical Jesus
this historical Jesus is the person who can be recovered, reconstituted, and reconstructed by applying modern tools of historical research to ancient sources
even the Gospels mention that what they report of Jesus is a selection of what they knew, and that it was written not for a historical purpose of explaining who the name behind the Jesus name was, but that you may believe in Jesus as a religious figure, which is something entirely different
as with anything written in Ancient times, these texts were written from a very specific point of view
in the case of Jesus, most written accounts must be seen through the faith carried on by the early church
which leads tot he second question: if the four Gospels are both our major sources and our major road blocks of constructing a historical Jesus, how do you approach them, how do you sift them, so that on the one hand you're not being terribly naive, whereas on the other hand you're not being unduly skeptical
was written around 70 AD
drew upon earlier collections
Matthew and Luke
build on Mark
but have a separate stream of sayings of Jesus which we label Q
have their own special traditions
is very useful contrary to what many people claim
it represents a different tradition than the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke)
was the last one to be written
there is much to much of a tendency to dismiss John
some say John's account of the Last Supper was correct and the Synoptics were not
what criteria do we use to discover the historical Jesus
stage one
the actual life of Jesus himself
stage two
the early oral tradition and the teaching of the Church after Jesus' death
applying Jesus' teaching to unwashed pagans being introduced to it
stage three
the evangelists: Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John
how do we move back from stage three, to stage two, and then to stage one
redaction criticism
regards the author of the text as editor of his or her source materials
considers the tendencies of the final writer
Greek [κριτήριον] for a test, a means of judging
some reject criteria
what criteria are reasons, rules, standards on which to make a judgement
so what use are your conclusions without these reasons, rules, and standards
so criteria is very important, i.e. to know what criteria you use, when do they apply, in what ways do they apply, etc.
multiple attestation of independent sources
thinking of it as a court room, you need more than one person on the witness stand who did not collude with the witness beforehand
the prohibition of divorce is in
Mark's gospel
Q tradition
Paul is very strong on urging this
was very confident of his apostolic authority
it was typical of him call who speaks in the "I" form
e.g. I Corinthians, chapter 7
but with the prohibition of divorce, Paul suggests that Jesus said it
when he needs to talk about a mixed marriage between a Christian and a pagan, then he returns to his own authority
discontinuity criteria
in mainstream Judaism had rules and regulations govern it
that one would prohibit it completely is not likely
the early church struggled with the prohibition of divorce that they were apparently handed down by Jesus
criteria of embarrassment
John the Baptist baptizing Jesus
with stark and laconic Mark
everything is done quickly and you are left wondering what he meant by it
he says that everyone that comes out to John the Baptist to confess their sins
then Jesus came to be baptized, interestingly without the further participle referring to confessing of sins
in the later Gospels
feel Mark has not done enough
you have an argument before Jesus' baptism where John says that he should rather be baptized by Jesus
Jesus speaking his first words, says, let it be so for now
mathematical Matthew, teaching by way of patterns
Luke goes more radical
has John the Baptist in the infancy narrative
as well as Elizabeth, Mary, Zachary
Herod then puts John in prison
after that, Jesus gets baptized, we are not told who baptized Jesus, and we are told that John is in prison
in the sermons of Peter and Paul where you get summaries of the Gospel stories, but never is ever said about the Baptism of Jesus by John in those summaries
the radical maverick Gospel
a different tradition and a world view, almost into Platonism
his radical solution is that it never happened
never says John the Baptist
John is baptizing, but his major function is to witness to Jesus
Jesus is never baptized in the fourth gospel
in fact we find out that Jesus is baptizing other people in an imitation of John
criterion of Jesus' passionate death
how do we explain that this teacher and healer from Galilee winds up getting crucified by the Roman Prefect in Jerusalem
he must have said things and did things that threatened people and threatened very powerful people
so a bland Jesus, or Jesus as cynic philosopher, or a Jesus who is interested in mysticism is not very believable