Sorry I've been away for so long, but, as Michael has pointed out, my wife and I just had our fourth baby and then--one week later--we took all four kids on a cross-country trip to South Bend, Indiana, where I taught a three week graduate intensive course on Jesus and the Gospels. It was great! But I'm still somewhat zapped, and have had no time to blog.
I'm back now, however, and am currently reading (for a review) David Gowler's new book, What Are They Saying About the Historical Jesus? (Paulist, 2007). So far, the book's pretty good, although Gowler is far more sympathetic toward the Jesus Seminar's scholarship than I think it deserves. In any case, the book is filled with all kinds of interesting facts about Historical Jesus research, which often don't make it into the standard surveys. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits I found:
* Herman Samuel Reimarus, usually considered the founder of the Quest for the "Historical Jesus" (as opposed to the "Christ of Faith"), was heavily influenced by English and Irish Deists. (One would never have guessed this, with the way the miracles have been treated.)
*David Friedrich Strauss was only 27 years old when he wrote his magnum opus, The Life of Jesus. It's amazing that the work of someone so young had such an enormous impact on his time.
*Albert Schweitzer omitted the most famous paragraph he ever penned--the one about Jesus "throwing himself upon the wheel of history"--from the 1913 revision of his Quest for the Historical Jesus. (Maybe he got tired of seeing it quoted over and over again?)
*Ruldolf Bultmann and Ernst Kaesemann got into a teacher-student scrap after Kasemann launched the New Quest in 1953. Mean words were used, such as accusations of "logical inconsistency" and "logical contradiction."
*Kaesemann wasn't very nice to Joachim Jeremias either; he played the nasty trick of consigning Jeremias' work to the "Old Quest," and was even more insulting when he referred to it as--dare I say it?--"dogmatic theology." What an insult! What could be worse than to be called out of date AND theological?
*Robert Funk, the founder of the Jesus Seminar, refers to members of the Third Quest as "pretend questers" who are engaged in an "apologetic ploy" for "creedal Christianity." (This one is spot on: We all know how E. P. Sanders loves to punctuate his writing by referring to Jesus as "God from God, light from light, true God from true God...)
*Funk also has referred to himself as "a new Martin Luther" calling for a a "powerful new reformation." (Any Lutherans out there ready to object?)
*The Jesus Seminar originally included some Southern Baptist (!) New Testament scholars who eventually dropped out.
The story of Historical Jesus research: often frustruating, sometimes funny, but always fascinating.