Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How Important Was My Dissertation Topic? Rabbi Jochanan Speaks

As some of you may know, I wrote my dissertation on Jesus and the ancient Jewish hope for the return of the lost tribes of Israel. It focused on Jesus' expectation of the eschatological ingathering of the exiled Israelites and the Gentiles to a new Jerusalem, under the headship of the Messiah. In this book, I argued that this was one of--if not the--central hopes of ancient Jewish eschatology.

Obviously, I chose this topic because I thought it was important; but I had no idea how important the Rabbis themselves thought it was. While studying this morning, I found this reference in the Babylonian Talmud:

Rabbi Jochanan said: The reunion of the Exiles is as important as the day when heaven and earth were created, for it is said, "And the children of Judah [2 tribes] and the children of Israel [10 tribes] shall be gathered together, and they shall apoint for themselves one head [the Messiah], and shall go up out of the land; for great shall be the day of Jezreel" [Hos 2:2]; and it is written, "And there was evening and there was morning, one day" [Gen 1:4]. (Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 88a; ed. Epstein).

Wow! How many doctoral students can say their dissertation topic was as important as the creation of the world!?

I wonder if Rabbi Jochanan would be willing to write a blurb for my next book.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Michael and the Magnum Sacramentum

For those of you who didn't know, Michael's getting married tomorrow!!!

This is of course one of the reasons he hasn't been able to post as much in the last two weeks. So, in honor of my good friend and his beautiful bride-to-be, I've just decided to post here a few reflections for him on the nature of what he's about to enter into. (Michael, I know full well you know this stuff already, but maybe when you get back you can help me live it, too!)

The first thing to remember is that marriage is at its very deepest mystery about imaging the life-giving love of the Trinity . This love is supernatural, totally selfless, and fruitfull. No biggie, just remember what the Catechism teaches:

God who created man out of love also calls him to love--the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love. Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator's eyes. (CCC 1604)

Second, always remember that you can't do this on your own power. It takes the grace of God and the power of Christ. That is of course why marriage was elevated to the status of a sacrament. Again, the Catechism teaches:

[Jesus'] unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy--heavier than the law of Moses. By coming to restore the original order of creation destroyed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renoucing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to "receive" the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of the cross, the source of all Christian life" (CCC 1615)

The third and final piece of advice flows directly from that last line: always pray for the grace to be willing to climb up on the Cross for your bride. The great error of the world is that it wants the joy of the marriage bed without the cross of the marriage covenant. But there is no marriage without the Cross; it was the Cross that was Christ's marriage bed. "The day will come when the Bridegroom is taken from them, and they will fast on that day" (Mark 2:20). It was there that he sealed the covenant with his Bride: "When Jesus had received the wine, he said, 'It is finished' (Lat consummatum est); and he bowed his head, and he gave up his spirit" (John 19:30). The great mystery of marriage is that at its heart lies a cross, and that only by dying to yourself will the life that is the fruit of marriage spring forth.

Saint Paul, of course, knew all this. This is why he called marriage "the great sacrament":

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies... "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and two shall become one." This is a great mystery (Lat magnum sacramentum) and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church (Eph 5:25-32)

As one of my favorite theologians likes to say, all this is not difficult, it's just humanly impossible! But with God's grace "all things are possible." And I know that His grace will be with you and Kimberly. Many blessings to you both. We will be praying for you this weekend.

Congratulations, Buddy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Best Definition of Biblical Theology I've Found


Over the past several decades, there has been a great deal of debate about the definition (or even possibility) of doing biblical theology (as distinct from, say, historical-critical exegesis). I'm currently working up a class on the biblical theology of St. Paul, and was reading through the French Jesuit Ferdinand Prat's 1000 page, 2 volume Theology of St. Paul (London: Burnes, Oates, and Washburne, 1926).

This work--yet another Catholic magnum opus that has fallen into undeserved oblivion (although James Dunn mentions Prat favorably, he never intereacts with him even once)--opens with an interesting definition of biblical theology that distinguishes it both from exegesis , positive theology (by which he means what we would call "historical theology") and scholastic theology (by which he means what we would refer to as "dogmatic theology" or "systematic theology").

I'm curious as to what you think biblical theology is (or should be). Here's Prat's take on the matter, in what I consider to be one of the best definitions of biblical theology I've found:

"In the most general meaning of the term, theology is the science of revealed religion. It is called positive theology when it undertakes to make an inventory of dogma, the historical development of which it does not hesitate to trace.

If, after setting forth in order the elements of revelation, it enriches this material with rational conclusions, in order to make of it a vast, harmonious structure, all of whose parts unit and support one another, it is scholastic theology.

Biblical theology is only a section of positive theology. Of the two sources of revealed truth--Scripture and Tradition--it draws from the first only. Its duty is to collect the results of exegesis, to bring them together for comparison, to assign them their place in the history of revelation, the upward progress of which it endeavors to follow, and finally to furnish thus to scholastic theology a sure foundation and thoroughly prepared materials. In a word, biblical theology is the fruit of exegesis and the germ of scholastic theology.

But it is not itself either scholastic theology or exegesis. Exegesis stuies particular texts, but does not trouble itself overmuch about their mutual relations. Its method is that of analysis. Biblical theology adds to analysis synthesis, for it must verify the results of the exegesis which has preceded it, before employing them to reconstruct a system, or, rather, a line of thought. Its characteristic is synthesis. Scholastic theology, on the other hand, is only the putting into form, by the reason, of the facts acquired by positive theology. Without the foundation thus laid, it would have nothing to stand on. Biblical theology must precede it and enlighten it, but must also take good care not to encroach upon its aim or to borrow its method., which is usually that of deduction.

We may say, therefore, that biblical theology ends where scholastic theology begins, and begins where exegesis finishes." (Prat, Theology of Saint Paul, 1.1 [emphasis altered]).

What do you think? Is this the right picture? Or is something missing here?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Did Jesus Come to Establish a New Temple?

I know a new post in my long series on Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom is long overdue. Unfortunately, with the dissertation work and the wedding (only 10 more days!), blogging has had to take a backseat. Here I want to rip something out from a future post and start a discussion of it here as it will relate to some issues Brant and I want to discuss more in detail here on the blog in the near future.

Ultimately, the contents of this post will be part of a larger project, and I wish I had more time to set this up and give it a bit more polish (I have many more bibliographical references to include!), but here's a sneak peak for now... As G. K. Chesterton once said, "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."
____________________________________

The Charge Concerning the Temple Made At Jesus’ Trial (Matt 26:61)
As in Mark, Jesus’ claim to have authority over the temple is one of the major issues at his trial in Matthew's Gospel. Matthew tells us that two witnesses came forward, testifying that Jesus had made the claim, “I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days” (Matt 26:61). Again, as in Mark, those scoffing at the foot of the cross repeat the charge (Matt 27:40). Of course, he is also mocked for claiming to be a king (Matt 27:37-43). The reader catches the irony--Jesus is both the true King and the true temple builder.
However, unlike Mark, Matthew’s account of the trial carefully distinguishes the witnesses who make the temple charge from those who gave false testimony. Unlike Mark, who adds that they “bore false witness” (cf. Mark 14:57), Matthew makes no such comment. In addition, the Matthean account lacks Mark’s comment about their testimony, “Yet, not even so did their testimony agree” (Mark 14:59). Allison and Davies write, “We guess that Mark’s ‘false witness’ has been omitted not out of a desire to avoid redundancy because Matthew does indeed think the testimony is true: Jesus did say what they claim.”[1]
In fact, there are subtle differences between Jesus' words regarding the temple in Matthew and Mark that should be mentioned. First of all, Matthew omits Mark’s description of the temple “made by hands” (cf. Mark 14:58). Secondly, the reference to building “another” temple is absent from Matthew’s account. Finally, while Jesus is charged in Mark as saying ἐγὼ καταλύσω (“I will destroy,” cf. Mark 14:58), in Matthew he is simply accused of saying δύναμαι καταλῦσαι (“I am able to destroy,” cf. Matt 26:61).
Despite the differences, Matthew (like, I would argue elsewhere, Mark) may very well intend his readers to see Jesus as the true temple. As in Mark, the only other references to three-day predictions refer to Jesus' resurrection (Matt 16:21; 17:23; 20:19) and his claim to rebuild the temple (Matt 26:61; 27:38). Furthermore, Matthew’s version of the charge, δύναμαι καταλῦσαι (“I am able to destroy,” cf. Matt 26:61) may evoke Matthew 22, where Jesus speaks of the resurrection of the dead, denouncing the Sadducees for not knowing the δύναμιν τοῦ θεοῦ ("power of God") (22:29). Finally, it is important to note Matthew’s account of Jesus’ statement in reference to himself in chapter twelve: “something greater than the temple is here” (Matt 12:6). In Matthew, therefore, Jesus doesn’t speak of building another temple (cf. Mark 14:58) because it is the same temple that it destroyed and “rebuilt”--his body![2]
The Church as the New Temple
The charge made at the trial is not the only passage that seems to describe Jesus as a temple-builder in Matthew. Matthew seems to identify the community of faith, the Church, with the new Zion/temple. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus applies imagery evocative of Jerusalem to his disciples. Jesus explains, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid." Of course, Jerusalem was the city set on a hill--Zion. The language of being a "light" to the "world" evokes Isaiah's restoration prophecy concerning Zion:
“I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand
and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the
nations
" (Isa 42:6).
Also, in Matthew 18:20, Jesus describes His presence as being among his disciples: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Since Jesus has already been identified as "God with us" (Matt 1:23), it would seem that here the community of believers, the Church, therefore, functions as the new temple. A similar theology may be found in the writings of Qumran community, which identified itself as a spiritual temple (cf. 1QS 5:-7; 4QFlor 1:2-7).
We have already considered the traditional link between the Davidic messiah and the rebuilding of the temple (see here and here). Matthew thus appears to link Jesus, the Messiah, with the original builder of the temple, Solomon. Thus, Jesus’ promise to build the Church on a rock (cf. Matt 16:17) seems to evoke the image of Solomon’s building of the temple: as the son of David, Solomon, built the temple, so too Christ, the true son of David, builds the Church. In fact, Jesus describes himself as “something greater than Solomon” (Matt 12:42).[3]
Moreover, the image of Jesus building the Church on a rock seems to call to mind a rabbinic tradition that the temple was built on a sacred rock.[1] In fact, shrines were often associated with sacred stones in literature from the ancient near East.[2] A famous example of this would be Jacob’s dream of a heavenly ladder in Genesis 28:10-22, in which Jacob builds holy shrine around a sacred stone, described as “…the house of God…the gate of heaven” (Gen 28:17). In Psalm 118, the “cornerstone” is also most likely associated with the building of the temple (Ps 118:3; see discussion above).
In connection with the sacred rock motif, the sanctuary was believed to be the center or “navel” of the world, in which both heaven and the watery place of the dead somehow converged:
“The sanctuary is not only the centre of the earth, it posses also an other characteristic of the navel, viz. that of being the place of communication with the upper and with the nether world, or on the one hand with heaven in general and with Paradise and the divine throne in particular—on the other hand with Tehom in general and with the realm of the dead and Hell in particular; in other words: in the sanctuary the three parts of the universe, earth, upper and nether world, meet.”[3]
Thus, for example, the fifteen steps of the temple were associated with the tehom.[4] Likewise, Psalm 29:10 and Psalm 93:2-4 link the Lord’s enthronement (over the ark in the temple?) with the flood waters.[5] Similarly, the passage in Isaiah cited above regarding the foundation stone is followed by the mention of flooding waters (cf. Isa 28:17). Many scholars have thus seen Matthew 16:17-19 in terms of this tradition.

In connection with this, we might also mention Matthew 7:24, where Jesus compares the righteous disciple to “a wise man who built his house upon a rock…” It is quite possible that the image of a man of wisdom building a house upon a rock would evoke the memory of the figure of Solomon, known both for his wisdom and for building the temple on a rock.[6] Understood against this backdrop, in promising to build the Church on a rock, Jesus may be indicating that he is like Solomon—a wise buider.[7] Thus, as the foundation stone was associated with the waters of the underworld, Jesus tells Peter, “…the gates of Hades shall not prevail against [the Church]” (Matt 16:28).
Conclusion
Given the presence of New Temple expectations within first-century Jewish expectations it is utterly stunning that in all of Jesus’ teachings in Matthew there is never a hint that a restored temple will be located within the city of Jerusalem. This is especially surprising since Matthew sprinkles his narrative with more traditional terms of Jewish piety such as describing Jerusalem as the “holy city” (Matt 4:5; 27:53) and the sanctuary of the temple as a “holy place” (24:15). Jesus himself describes the city as the “city of the Great King,” God’s “footstool” (Matt 5:35), thus recognizing its holiness. Even Matthew’s account of Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the temple is prefaced with a sympathetic picture of Jesus expressing his heartache over the city (cf. Matt 23:37).[8]

More to the point, Matthew re-orients eschatological expectations away from the earthly city and temple and onto the resurrected Jesus. This theological shift away from the earthly city is painted literarily by the evangelist who concludes his Gospel with Jesus appearing to the disciples on another mountain—not Zion, but a nondescript location in Galilee (cf. Matt 28:16).[9] The exact geographical region is irrelevant; the significance is not on the place but on the person of Jesus. The ingathering of “all nations” will indeed take place—not through an earthly restoration in earthly Zion but through the apostles’ ministry of baptism, through which the disciples will experience in the presence of Jesus, so that in being regathered to/in him, the restoration at the new temple is realized (Matt 28:19-20; 18:20).[10]
FOOTNOTES
[1] See b. Yoma 54a; Lev. R. 20.4; Bet ha-Midr. 5.63; Nu. R. 12.4; B. Suk. 49a; 53ab; B. Mak. 11a; P. Sanh. 29a. For a full treatment see R. J. McKelvey, The New Temple: The Church in the New Testament (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), 188-92; Ben F. Meyer, The Aims of Jesus (London: SCM, 1979), 179-222; N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Christian Origins and the Study of God 2; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 406-407, 499-500; Bernard P. Robinson, “Peter and His Successors: Tradition and Redaction in Matthew 16:17-19,” in JSNT 21 (1984): 101 n 26. Also see, Colin Brown, “The Gates of Hell: An Alternative Approach,” in Society of Biblical Literature Papers 1987 Papers, 357-67. Brown argues that locating this tradition in Matthew 16 is problematic due to the fact that virtually no clear references to this tradition are found until the rabbinic period. Respectfully disagreeing with Joachim Jeremias, who takes this view, Brown states that discerning such allusions appear to be the result of “… reading into the text a whole complex of ideas, some of which are drawn from later sources” (359). Brown’s hesitancy is understandable—certainly without the references in the later rabbinic sources, it would be practically impossible to claim such a tradition existed. Nonetheless, with sincere respect for Brown’s learning, it should be pointed out that while caution is certainly necessary when it comes to using such writings, one should not simply assume that distinctive beliefs found in them were simply invented out of thin air—something Brown would surely agree with. Here we hope to avoid the charge of reading too much into the text. First, we have demonstrated the clear reference to Jesus as one “greater than Solomon.” Secondly, it is hard to imagine that Matthew’s Jewish readers would not have found Solomonic echoes in Jesus’ description of the “wise” builder. Thirdly, we have demonstrated the presence of Davidic imagery in Matthew 16:16-19 (i.e., “son of God,” “messiah,” and “keys of the kingdom”). Fourthly, as we have already shown from our discussion of Matthew 18:20 [absent from this post, but i.e., the language of "binding and loosing" in Rabbinic literature], Matthew does in fact make use of traditions that are only explicitly developed in the rabbinic literature. It hardly seems a stretch, given the clear presence of a tradition linking the foundation of the temple with a rock in the rabbinic period, to imagine that yet one more image in Matthew 16, namely the “rock” the Church itself is built on, was not also part of the complex of images employed there. In fact, asserting that Jesus was combining a totally separate image, such as the foundation of a pagan temple, seems to require an even greater stretch— i.e., would Jesus really compare the Church to a temple dedicated to a pagan god? See Wright who combines Brown’s views with Meyer’s cosmic stone interpretation. N. T. Wright, “Jerusalem in the New Testament,” in Jerusalem, Past and Present in the Purposes of God (P.W.L. Walker, ed.; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 57.
[2] See A. J. Wensinck, The Ideas of the Western Semites Concerning the Navel of the Earth (Amsterdam: Johannes Muller, 1916); Luis I. J. Stadelmann, The Hebrew Conception of the World (Rome: Biblical Institute, 1970), 147-54.
[3] Wensinck, The Ideas of Western Semites, 23; also see, Thomas Fawcett, Hebrew Myth and Christian Gospel (London: SCM Press, 1973), 195-6. Also see, John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus (vol. 3 of The Roots of the Problem and Person; ABRL; New York: Doubleday, 2001) 3:230; Joachim Gnilka, ‘Tu es, Petrus.’ Die Pterus-Verheissung in Mt 16, 17-19,” in MTZ 38 (1987): 3-17; Philip Alexander, “Jerusalem as the Omphalos of the World: On the History of a Geographical Concept” in Judaism 46 (1997):147-58. In association with this it is important to point out that temples themselves were seen as points of intersection between heaven, the underwold and earth.
[4] B. Suk. 53a; B. Mak. 11a; P. Sanh. 29a; P. Yoma 42c; Wensink, The Ideas of Western Semites, 22-3; McKelvey, The New Temple, 190;
[5] Thomas Fawcett, Hebrew Myth, 195.
[6] For a further discussion see W. D. Davies, The Gospel and the Land: Early Christianity and Jewish Territorial Doctrine (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), 8-14. The bibliographical data in Davies’ footnotes here are especially helpful.
[7] Very early we find that Matt 7:24 and Matt 16:17 were linked together with Jesus’ promise to rebuild a temple “not made with hands” (Mark 14:58). Ignatius of Antioch writes in the introduction to his letter to the Philadelphians that Jesus, “… has firmly established His Church upon a rock, by a spiritual building, not made with hands, against which the winds and the floods have beaten, yet have not been able to overthrow.” Moreover, Matthew 16:17-18 is laced with a number of Davidic images. Peter’s description of Jesus as “the Son of God” clearly evokes Davidic imagery (cf. 2 Sam 7:17; 1 Chr 17:13, 1 Chr 28:6; Ps 2:7; 89:26). See John J. Collins, The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature (ABRL; New York, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1995), 163; Geza Vermes, Jesus the Jew (London: William Collins Sons & Co., 1973), 194-5. Jesus’ role as the “anointed one,” the “Christ,” is also a reference to Davidic themes, since the term was a commonly used as a title for Davidic kings, cf. 2 Sam 19:21, 22:51; 23:1; 2 Chr 6:42; Pss 2:2; 18:50; 20:6; 28:8; 84:9; 89:38, 51; 132:10, 17. Also see Fredricksen, Jesus of Nazareth, 124. Jesus’ promise to Peter includes language taken from the oracle concerning the Davidic Prime Minister in Isaiah 22:22: the keys; the language of binding and loosing is reminiscent of the promise made, “he shall open and none shall shut, he shall shut and none shall open”; the weight of the house is placed upon the Minister as the Church is built upon Peter.
[8] Luke separates this logion from Jesus’ condemnation of the temple (cf. Luke 13:34). The only possible hint of such a future restoration is found in Matthew 23:39 (“I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”). That this verse refers to a future earthly restoration is, to put it mildly, highly unlikely. Instead it probably refers to Jesus future coming in judgment. In Luke it is clearly a reference to Jesus’ triumphal entry. John P. Meier, The Vision of Matthew (New York: Paulist Press, 1979), 166; Ben Meyer, Five Speeches that Changed the World (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1994), 102; Davies and Allison, Matthew 19-28, 323; De Young writes, “There is in this passage no expression of the thought that this judgment on the Temple, and hence on Jerusalem as the religious centre of God’s people, will ever be reversed; that God will ever return to this Temple in Jerusalem and once again make it the place where he exercises his redemptive revelational relation with his people.” De Young, Jerusalem in the New Testament, 89.
[9] Indeed, the theme of mountains is prevalent throughout Matthew’s gospel. The background for this imagery is no doubt due in part to Sinai traditions. A number of have scholars have noted that this motif seems to relativize Zion’s status. See Terence L. Donaldson, Jesus on the Mountain: A Study in Matthean Theology (JSNTSS 8; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1985), 187-188101-2; 180-8.
[10] N. T. Wright, “Jerusalem in the New Testament,” in Jerusalem in the New Testament, 56-64.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Radio Interview with Dr. Pitre Today

Brant and I will make our third appearance together on the hugely popular radio show Catholic Answers Live, which is syndicated worldwide.

The interview begins at 3pm Pacific Time (or 6pm Eastern).

Today's topic: Jesus and the Priesthood.

Here's a synopsis:
The book of Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus is the true Priest, but did Jesus himself give any indication during his ministry that was carrying out a priestly role? Moreover, is there any evidence that he believed he would establish a new ministerial priesthood?

Tune in to find out...

You can listen live by going here and clicking the link "Listen Live via EWTN" (look for the moving yellow bars above the calendar).

We always have so much fun doing this. In fact, this morning over the phone Brant shared some fascinating observations with me which I have never heard anyone else ever make. I'm so honored to know this guy!

***Update***
The podcast of the show is now available at Catholic Answers' website. Click on the calendar and follow the link. By the way, if you're interested in the topic keep your eyes glued to this site. We've got a lot more to say on this topic.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Some Interesting Facts about Historical Jesus Research

Hello Everyone!

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.