Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Criterion of Coherence in Historical Jesus Research

The last of the "major" criteria of authenticity used in historical Jesus research is the criterion of coherence. As always, I would greatly welcome any feedback here--especially from those who have already worked in this area.

The criterion of coherence, as it is traditionally understood, judges as authentic those elements which fit well with what has been established about Jesus by the other criteria.[1] Yet, such a task will inevitably involve subjective analysis: what exactly constitutes coherence? Morna Hooker writes:
“Subjectivity is still a danger when we turn to the principle of coherence or consistency… We may be able to sort out what seems coherent (or incoherent) to us―but we are living in a completely different world, and what seems incoherent to us may have seemed coherent in first-century Palestine―and vice versa. Moreover, some of Jesus’ sayings―if they are genuine―are paradoxical, and that alone should perhaps warn us against looking for what seems to be consistent.”[2]
In fact, many have pointed out that the criteria are not typically consistent in the use of these criteria.

For example, there appear to be inconsistencies within John Meier’s analysis. Despite his call for objectivity, at points Meier denies the authenticity of various traditions despite recognizing that they meet the standards of his criteria. For example, Meier states that Matthew has to “strain” to explain how Jesus came to be associated with Nazareth. According to Matthew, Joseph went there because Archelaus, the son of Herod, was ruling Judea. Meier thinks this is a poor explanation since by moving to Nazareth Joseph was relocating to the territory of another son of Herod, Herod Antipas, who killed John the Baptist. Yet, as Dennis Ingolfsland points out, what Meier fails to mention is that Herod Antipas had yet to behead John. Moreover, fear of Archelaus was probably justified since Josephus reports that he killed three thousand Jews in Jerusalem after Herod’s death (cf. Ant. 17:218). [3]

Moreover, since the criterion is largely deeependent on the findings of the other criteria it is very likely that it will perpetuate and even magnify the problems created by them. Thus Ben Meyer wrote: “Any errors in the results obtained by the ‘dissimilarity’ principle are liable to be magnified by the principle of ‘coherence.’”[4]

Furthermore, the criterion begs a fundamental question: why must we assume Jesus’ teaching never included elements that were on some level contradictory?[5]


(In an upcoming post, I will discuss how Brant Pitre has redefined this criterion).

NOTES
[1] Perrin’s definition is often-cited. See Perrin, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus, 43: “Material from the earliest strata of the tradition may be accepted as authentic if it can be shown to cohere with material established as authentic by means of the criterion of dissimilarity.” In particular, the criterion was developed by those doing parable research. See Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom, 1; Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, 11; Perrin, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus, 20-22.
[2] See Hooker, “On Using the Wrong Tool,” 577.
[3] Dennis Ingolfsland [“The Historical Jesus According to John Meier and N. T. Wright,” in Bibliotheca sacra 155 (20) 460-73] points out a couple of examples in the work of John P. Meier. [4] Meyer, Critical Realism, 137. See also Hooker, “On Using the Wrong Tool,” 577: “If the core material upon which we build our reconstruction of the teaching of Jesus is inaccurate, then the addition of material which seems to be consistent with that core is likely to reflect those same inaccuracies.” Similarly, see Stein, “The ‘Criteria’ for Authenticity,” 251.
[5] This point is emphasized by Jack T. Sanders, “The Criterion of Coherence and the Randomness of Charisma: Poring Through Some Aporias in the Jesus Tradition,” 1-25, who concludes that Jesus must have in some way have taught things that were at some level contradictory: “Understanding that Jesus was a charismatic leader of [a New Religious Movement] and seeing that, as such, he apparently employed randomness to increase his charisma, we must now give up the academic criterion of coherence… and recognize that Jesus said contradictory things” (24).

Defense of Marriage Ad

Our students at JP Catholic (John Paul the Great Catholic University) have worked on a new ad which supports Prop. 8 in California, which would ammend the state constitution and rein in the activist judicial branch here.

I love it that Catholic students are learning how to use the media like this. Just wait a few more years--I'm sure they will have really perfected their skills by then.

If you're looking for a college that is more than just a school but a place where you become part of a mission, check out www.jpcatholic.com.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

One Bad Pig - Bowl of Wrath

READ THIS BEFORE YOU PUSH PLAY!!!

I can't believe this is on-line! This song is hilarious. It draws from the imagery of "bowls" of judgment being poured out in Revelation 16.

It is performed by a Christian Punk Band that made huge waves in the 90's. And I mean, they were big--Johnny Cash loved them and even became closely associated with them. He even performed with them! What started out as a lark between some youth ministers became a phenomenon--a hilarious Christian punk band. I don't get the skateboard stuff in the video and the studio version is much better, but this is still worth it.

Here are the lyrics... they're hilarious.

BOWL OF WRATH by One Bad Pig
I´m sure you´ve heard the story Gomorrah and of Sodom
If hell is not an endless pit I´m sure they´re at the bottom
Of all of their abilities the greatest one was math
Their multiples of curses equaled a bowl of wrath

Chorus:
Bowl of wrath
Breakfast on the crooked path
Bowl of wrath
Bowl of wrath
Breakfast on the crooked path
If you choose to laugh
You can have a bowl of wrath

Moses came down from the mount a dark an gloomy morn´
His eyes and heart fell in distress when he saw the golden form
A ghastly frown fell to his face, "You like this golden calf?"
"Well, get your knifes and slay it and have a bowl of wrath"

Bowl of wrath
Breakfast on the crooked path
Bowl of wrath
Bowl of wrath
Breakfast on the crooked path
If you choose to laugh
You can have a bowl of wrath

You who were
You are just
You who are
You are just
We´ve spilled Your Blood, and killed You saints
And wrath´s what we deserve
You are just in these judgements
The Holy One

Seven bowls before me, served up with all God´s rage
I would´ve had to eat i´, ´til Jesus paid sin´s wage
I´ll take my cross up daily, in You I´ll take a bath
Please cloth me in Your righteousness, not in a bowl of wrath

Bowl of wrath
Breakfast on the crooked path
Bowl of wrath
Bowl of wrath
Breakfast on the crooked path
If you choose to laugh
You can have a bowl of wrath

Bowl of wrath
Bowl of wrath
If you need to laugh, have a bowl of wrath

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Criterion of Multiple Attestation in Historical Jesus Research

In addition to dissimilarity from Judaism and dissimilarity from Christianity, another criterion frequently appealed to is multiple attestation. John P. Meier defines it as a criterion which looks at sayings or actions of Jesus “that are attested in more than one independent literary source (e.g., Mark, Q, Paul, John) and/or in more than on literary form or genre (e.g., parable, dispute story, miracle story, prophecy, aphorism).”[1] In other words, the likelihood of the historical reliability of something increases if it is found in more than one source and even more so if it is found in more than one literary context.

Yet, this criterion is not without its limitations. For one thing, it cannot exclude the possibility that a Christian belief was created early on and gained wide acceptance. Craig Evans writes: “The criterion really only proves that a multiply attested tradition is early and widespread, and not necessarily authentic.”[2]

Furthermore, that some elements are found multiply attested and others not may be little more than historical accident.[3] N. T. Wright explains: “…the number of times a saying happens to turn up in the records is a very haphazard index of its likely historicity or otherwise.”[4] Thus, that something is multiply attested does not therefore make it historical.

Moreover, the criterion is largely dependent on the two-source theory (Mark and Q), [5] to which a growing number of scholars have offered serious challenges. After an exhaustive analysis of the various solutions to the Synoptic Problem, Sanders concludes with Davies.[6] Mark Goodacre, professor of New Testament at Duke Univesity and editor of one of the most presitigious monograph series has leveled one of the most devastating critiques against Q in his The Case Against Q.[7]

NOTES
[1] Meier, A Marginal Jew, 1:174. Meier here combines what are sometimes seen as two criteria, that of multiple attestation and multiple forms, first suggested by C. H. Dodd, History and the Gospel (New York: Scribner’s, 1937), 91-101; idem., The Parables of the Kingdom, 26-29; Holmén, “Authenticity Criteria,” 49; C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom (London: Nisbet, 1935), 20.
[2] See Evans, “Authenticity Criteria in Life of Jesus Research,” 9. The point is made by many others, e.g., Meier, A Marginal Jew, 1:175; Fredricksen, From Jesus to Christ, 6. Furthermore, see the discussion in Allison, Jesus of Nazareth, 2-10.
[3] On the difficulty of ruling out a priori singularly attested elements, see C.F. D. Moule, The Phenomenon of the New Testament (Naperville: Allenson, 1967), 71; Warren Kelber, “Jesus and Tradition: Words in Time, Words in Space,” Semeia 65 (1995): 147 [139-67].
[4] Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 51.
[5] Likewise, see Ensor, Jesus and His “Works”, 41: “…the usefulness of this criterion is limited by the fact that the Synoptic problem has not yet been finally resolved. No one theory commands universal consent, and it is not always clear from which source a saying may have come.” This weakness is recognized by others, e.g., see Craig A. Evans, The Historical Jesus: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies (New York: Routledge, 2004), 9; Stein, “The ‘Criteria’ for Authenticity,” 230-31; Achtemeier, Green and Thompson, Introducing the New Testament, 60. E. P. Sanders and Margaret Davies, Studying the Synoptic Gospels (London: SCM Press, 1989), 51-119.
[6] E. P. Sanders and Margaret Davies, Studying the Synoptic Gospels (London: SCM Press, 1989), 117 [51-119]. Elsewhere, in an analysis applicable to many contemporary scholars, Sanders has critiqued Bultmann’s method as essentially circular, since the two-source theory is established on “laws of development,” which are in turn derived from the two-source theory. See. E. P. Sanders, Tendencies of the Synoptic Tradition (New York:Cambridge University Press, 1969), 25-26.
[7] Mark Goodacre, The Case Against Q: Studies in Markan Priority and the Synoptic Problem (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press 2002). See also the various contributions in Mark Goodacre and Nicholas Perin, eds, Questioning Q: A Multidimensional Critique (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Appeals to Scholarly Consensus


"[S]cholarship can rarely appeal to a consensus for anything other than moral support.”
--Scot McKnight, “Jesus of Nazereth,” in The Face of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research (ed. S. McKnight and G. R. Osborne; Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 170.

[Note: I have been looking for this quote for the last two hours. I knew I read it somewhere, but I couldn't remember where. I thought I had read it in Bockmuehl's book, Seeing the Word and then thought maybe it came from Allison's, Jesus of Nazareth. I was just about to give up. Then, immediately after asking St. Anthony, patron of lost things, to join me in prayer, it came to me where I saw it. No kidding. It came to me immediately. I wish I had it on video. So to celebrate St. Anthony's help I'm posting it here so that at least all the time hunting it down can be chalked up to a good blog post! Just goes to show, it never hurts to ask someone in heaven pray for you!]

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Criterion of Dissimilarity to Christianity in Historical Jesus Research

The criterion of dissimilarity from Christianity (CDC)[1] is frought with similar difficulties as the criterion of dissimilarity from Judaism (CDJ).[2] The criterion seeks to distinguish the authentic Jesus material from that originating later from the early Church by highlighting material dissimilar to Christianity.[3] Closely related to this tool is the criterion of embarrassment.[4]

In the first place, these tools suffer from one of the problems the CDJ faces: we do not possess a complete knowledge of early Christianity thus making it impossible to really render a sure judgment that a particular idea or teaching is dissimilar to Christian belief.[5]

Moreover, the CDC seems undermined by one of the very form-critical presuppositions on which it operates, namely, the assumed creative capacity of the early Church. Specifically, form-critics had postulated that the early Christians accepted the words spoken by Christian prophets as coming from the Risen Lord. Yet, in addition to the fact that there is no real evidence to support this assertion,[6] there is also no reason to assume that such figures could not have spoken in ways dissimilar to Judaism and/or Christianity themselves.[7] Dissimilarity, therefore, offers little assurance of authenticity.

Another protest often raised is that the criteria highlighting Jesus’ discontinuity emphasizes what was distinctive about him at the expense of what was characteristic about his message. Morna Hooker uses the following analogy:

“As an example, we might consider three typical speeches by three political leaders at election time; if we were to eliminate what was common to all three, how much would be left of any one speech? Probably very little! The result might give us what was distinctive of a party in the sense of what its members believe and members of other parties do not, but it would certainly not be representative of the policy of the party.”
Hooker goes on to state:

“This [problem], of course, recovnized by those who use the method, and accepted as a drawback. It is, however, a very serious drawback indeed, for to take the remaining material as the basis of our reconstruction will inevitably lead to serious distortion… to exclude details from our picture of Jesus may lead to distortion as serious as (or worse than) that which comes if we include too much.” [8]
In other words, such an approach may well recognize what was idiosyncratic about Jesus but such elements may very well have only been peripheral to his message.[9] These criteria thus run the risk of producing a seriously flawed portrait of Jesus.[10]

Furthermore, one of the most problems associated with the CDC and the criterion of embarrassment is that they leave no way to account for how Jesus influenced the community that followed him. Steven Bryan writes:

“[I]f double dissimilarity remains useful for its ability to indicate the discontinuities between Jesus and both Judaism and Christianity, it is singularly unhelpful in explaining why Jesus, whatever his own intentions, came to be a transitional figure between Judaism and Christianity. It may be anachronistic to think of Jesus as the ‘founder of Christianity’, but Christianity must in some sense be seen as part of his effective history. The crucial question, then, is how to understand Jesus as one who operated within the ‘constraints’ of Judaism and yet generated a movement which soon could no longer be accommodated within Judaism.” [11]
Likewise, Marianne Meye Thompson writes: “…one should expect to find discernible lines of continuity from Jesus to the church. Indeed, it is strange to have gotten to a place in New Testament studies where such continuity is assumed to be the exception, rather than the norm.”[12]

Thus, such criteria necessarily eliminate elements of the Jesus tradition that would have been important to the early Church―the very elements which the early believers would have been most likely to preserve! Indeed, it is impossible to imagine that the Gospels only preserved material dissimilar or embarrassing to the early Church![13] Thus, such criteria may be less about historical rigor than about codifying a fundamental presupposition carried over from the work of the earlier rationalists, namely, that the Christian Church somehow distorted Jesus’ true message.[14] Moroever, since this criterion defines Jesus only by those aspects of his teachings which were not continued by Christianity, his significance and impact as a historical figure is greatly diminished.

NOTES
[1] The criterion has also been known as “double dissimilarity,” that is, dissimilarity from both Judaism and Christianity. Some, recognizing the importance of Jesus’ Jewishness have argued that the criterion of dissimiliarty should be used only in respect to Christianity. See Ben F. Meyer, Aims of the Jesus, 86: “It has often been observed that Judaism in general is a possible source for the Jesus tradition. What has not been observed, however, is that the requirement of simultaneous discontinuity with Judaism and the post-paschal church errs by excess. That the community should gratuitously adopt from Judaism elements in discontinuity with its own concerns, practices, and tendencies simply does not make sense. Discontinuity with the post-paschal church is sufficient by itself to establish historicity.” More recently the Meyer’s approach has been supported by Dale Allison [Jesus of Nazareth, 52] and Tom Holmén [“Doubts About Double Dissimilarity,” 47-80], who states, “Though masterly argued and substantial in meaning, Meyer’s observation has so far largely escaped the notice of biblical scholarship” (51). In addition, see Pitre, Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of Exile, 26-27.
[2] See, for example, Hooker, “Christology and Methodology,” 482: “[I]f our knowledge of Judaism is only partial, so, too, is our knowledge of early Christian belief, and here, too, we must tread with caution. The tradition-historian is the first to recognize that the material as we have it today in the New Testament represents only part of the picture; there may have been other beliefs about Jesus and Christological statements which are not now represented in our canonical material. It could be that if we knew the whole truth about Judaism and the early Church, our small quantity of ‘distinctive’ teaching would wither away altogether.” See also Meyer, Critical Realism, 136; E. Earle Ellis, “Gospels Criticism: A Perspective on the State of the Art,” in Das Evangelium und die Evangelien (WUNT 28; ed. P. Stuhlmacher; Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1983), 31.
[3] Of course, this ties into larger form-critical models discussed in previous posts.
[4] Indeed, some see embarrassment as another form of dissimilarity from Christianity. See Brian Han Gregg, The Historical Jesus and the Final Judgment Sayings in Q (WUNT 207; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006), 30; Polklow, “Method and Criteria,” 341; Holmén, “Doubts About Double Dissimilarity,” 76; Porter, Criteria for Authenticy in Historical-Jesus Research, 110; Craig A. Evans, “The New Quest for Jesus and the New Research on the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in Jesus, Mark and Q (ed. M. Labahn and A. Schmidt; London: T & T Clark, 2001), 165.
[5] See Calvert [“An Examination of the Criteria for Distinguishing the Authentic Words of Jesus,” 214] who thinks that this problem is greater in the case of dissimilarity from Christianity: “There is more difficulty attached to this criterion than to [dissimilarity from Judaism]. It is possible to establish the Jewish thought of the time of Jesus more easily than it is possible to build up a picture of the post-Easter thought of the Church.”
[6] See the previous posts on Christian Prophecy and the transmission of the Jesus tradition.
[7] See Hooker, “Using the Wrong Tool,” 576: “The method presupposes that much of the gospel material is due to the creative activity of the early Christian community; inspired prophets spoke to the community in the name of the Risen Lord. But did not those same inspired prohets sometimes utter sayings which have no known parallel in contemporary Judaism and the early Church? If individuals in the Christian community were as creative as is supposed, then presumably some of them at times spoke―as Jesus had done―in ‘distinctive’ ways. So perhaps in the small ‘hard core’ of sayings which this method attributes to Jesus, we may again have included too much!” In addition, see the comments by David Aune, Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediterranean World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983): 241.
[8] See Hooker, “Christology and Methodology,” 481: “Use of the principle of dissimilarity, it is claimed, gives us what is distinctive in the teaching of Jesus. But the Enlgih word ‘distinctive’ can have two sense―it can mean ‘unique’ (what makes it distinct from other things, the German verschieden), or it can mean ‘characteristic’ (the German bezeichnend). In what sense it it being used here? Clearly the method is designed to give us the former―but what we really want is the latter; and the two are by no means necessarily the same.”
[9] Meier writes, “…while the criterion of discontinuity is useful, we must guard against the presupposition that it will automatically give us what was central to or at least fairly representative of Jesus’ teachings. By focusing narrowly upon what may have been Jesus’ ‘idiosyncrasies,’ it is always in danger of highlighting what was striking but possibly peripheral in his message” (A Marginal Jew, 1:173). See also Borg [Conflict, Holiness, and Politics in the Teachings of Jesus, 38] writes, “There is no assurance that that which is most distinctive (which is what the criterion unearths) is also most characteristic (which is what historical inquiry seeks). It may simply be that which is most eccentric.”
[10] See, e.g., Hooker, “Using the Wrong Tool,” 574: “As an example, we might consider three typical speeches by three political leaders at election time; if we were to eliminate what was common to all three, how much would be left of any one speech? Probably very little! The result might give us what was distinctive of a party in the sense of what its members believe and members of other parties do not, but it would certainly not be representative of the policy of the party.” Hooker goes on to state: “This [problem], of course, recovnized by those who use the method, and accepted as a drawback. It is, however, a very serious drawback indeed, for to take the remaining material as the basis of our reconstruction will inetvitably lead to serious distortion… to exclude details from our picture of Jesus may lead to distortion as serious as (or worse than) that which comes if we include too much.” In addition, see Longnecker, “Literary Criteria in Life of Jesus Research,” 223: “The criterion of dissimilarity provides us with what was distinctive in the proclamation of Jesus, but only in the sense of what was ‘unique’ and not at all of what was ‘characteristic’―which, ultimately, is what we really want to know from our historical study and why the various literary criteria were originally formulated.” Furthermore, see Harry W. M. Rietz, “Reflections on Jesus’ Eschatology in Light of Qumran,” in Jesus and Archeology (ed. J. H. Charlesworth; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 188-9; Stein, “The ‘Criteria’ for Authenticity,” 243-4.
[11] See Steven M. Bryan, Jesus and Israel’s Traditions of Judgement and Restoration, 9. “…one should expect to find discernible lines of continuity from Jesus to the church. Indeed, it is strange to have gotten to a place in New Testament studies where such continuity is assumed to be the exception, rather than the norm.” Likewise, see Stuhlmacher, “Gospel Criticism,” 31: “The criterion of dissimilarity is at first blush suggestive, but upon examination it proves to be a weak reed. For it assumes, one the one hand, that a Gospel traditioner or a Christian prophetic oracle could not have used a unique expression, and, on the other hand, that Jesus would not have used the idiom found in his own society or among his own followers.”
[12] Marianne Meye Thompson, The Promise of the Father: Jesus and God in the New Testament (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000) 62. In addition, see Stuhlmacher, “Gospel Criticism,” 31: “The criterion of dissimilarity is at first blush suggestive, but upon examination it proves to be a weak reed. For it assumes, one the one hand, that a Gospel traditioner or a Christian prophetic oracle could not have used a unique expression, and, on the other hand, that Jesus would not have used the idiom found in his own society or among his own followers.”
[13] William P. Alston, “Historical Criticism of the Synoptic Gospels,” in Behind the Text: History and Biblical Interpretation (SHS 4; ed. C. Bartholomew, C. S. Evans, M. Healy, and M. Rae; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 163: “…we must not forget that the Christian church stemmed, and self-consciously so, from the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Hence it would be unreasonable in the extreme to suppose that no emphases, attitudes, beliefs and so on of the early church are to be found in the earthly ministry of Jesus. Indeed, a picture of the historical Jesus from which all such features are excised would, just by that fact, be under suspicion.”
[14] See the discussion in Theissen and Winter, The Plausible Jesus, especially, 40, in which the influence of Reimarus on the development of the approach is discussed. Furthermore, see the comments in Catchpole, “Tradition History,” in 175, who sums up the matter well when he says: “…the gospels themselves belong to the living experience of the communities, and it is highly doubtful whether anything at all within them can fail to represent the standpoint of some one community. As a consequence, the dissimilarity principle should logically produce one and only one result. That is, concerning the historical Jesus we know absolteuty nothing.” In addition, see Evans, “Authenticity Criteria in Life of Jesus Research,” 15; Hooker, “On Using the Wrong Tool,” 579-580.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Criterion of Dissimilarity to Judaism in Jesus Research

Having already discussed some preliminary issues concerning form-critical assumptions behind the use of the criteria of authenticity (here and here), we now turn to a specific discussion of the various criteria. Let us begin with the criterion of dissimilarity.

For the sake of clarity, we here follow the careful work of Gerd Theissen and Dagmar Winter, who distinguish between the "criterion of dissimilarity from Judaism” (CDJ) and the “criterion of dissimilarity with Christianity” (CDC).[1] Here we will first look at CDJ, which holds that if an element of the Gospels diverges from Judaism it is more likely to be an authentic saying of Jesus.[2]

The criterion has a long history and is has been linked to the broader issue of anti-Semitism in biblical studies.[3] The logic of the criterion was especially refined in connection with the rise of “New Quest” scholarship,[4] which is largely remembered defining Jesus over and against the Judaism of his day.[5] Of course, this emphasis of New Quest scholarship has been largely rejected by most contemporary scholarship, which is marked with a renewed appreciation for the Jewishness of Jesus’ message.[6]

Moreover, this criterion also has another fatal flaw: identifying elements dissimilar from ancient Judaism requires the possession of a complete knowledge of first-century Judaism, which, surely, we do not have. Morna Hooker articulates the point well:
“Since the method proceeds by eliminating ideas found in Judaism and early Christianity it presupposes a fairly confident knowledge of both areas. To what extent is this justified? Use of this criterion seems to assume that we are dealing with two known factors (Judaism and early Christianity) and one unknown―Jesus; it would perhaps be a fairer statement of the situation to say that we are dealing with three unknowns, and that our knowledge of the other two is quite as tenuous and indirect as our knowledge of Jesus himself.”[7]
Essentially, then, the criterion is an argument from silence.[8]

NOTES
[1] Gerd Theissen and Dagmar Winter, The Quest for the Plausible Jesus: The Question of Criteria (trans. M. E. Boring; Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), 19. See also Stanley E. Porter, The Criteria for Authenticity in Historical-Jesus Research: Previous Discussion and New Proposals (London / New York: T & T Clark, 2000), 114.
[2] See Norman Perrin, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus (London: SCM; New York: Harper & Row, 1967), 15-53. For Perrin’s influence, see W. O. Seal, “Norman Perrin and his ‘School’: Retracing a Pilgrimage,” JSNT 20 (1984): 87-107; W.H. Kelber, “The Work of Norman Perrin: An Intellectuall Pilgrimage,” JR 64 (1984):484-500. However, clearly the roots of this criterion precede Perrin. See Rudolf Bultmann, History of the Synoptic Tradition (trans. B. Marsh; Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1963), 205: “We can only count on possessing a genuine similitude of Jesus where, on the one hand, expression is given to the contrast between Jewish morality and piety and the distinctive eschatological temper which characterized the preaching of Jesus; and where on the other hand we find no specifically Christian features.”
[3] Here we cannot delve into this issue. See Theissen and Winter, The Quest for the Plausible Jesus, 1-171.
[4] This stage of research was sparked by Ernst Käsemann, who was concerned about the growing popularity of Rudolph Bultmann's theology, which he saw as leading to a kind of Docetism. See Ernst Käsemann, “Das Problem des historischen Jesus,” ZTK 51 (1954): 125-53. His challenge to scholars to find the earthly Jesus behind the kerygma was picked up by a number of scholars (Fuchs, Bornkamm, Conzelmann, Fuller, Perrin and Robinson). The term “New Quest” itself was first used by James Robinson, although it seems that it was primarily used at the behest of his editor and not necessarily to his liking. See James Robinson, A New Quest of the Historical Jesus (Studies in Biblical Theology. London: SCM, 1959). Bultmann responded to the project in 1959 [see Rudolf Bultmann, Das Verhältnis der urchristlichen Christusbotschaft zum historischen Jesus (Heidelberg: Winter, 1960)]. This response, in large part, brought an end to the New Quest. For an overview see, e.g., Colin Brown, “Historical Jesus, Quest of,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (ed. J. B. Green, et al.; Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 336-37. Of course, the taxonomy of the Jesus research into periods such as “Old Quest”, “New Quest” and “Third Quest” has come under fire by some. While such a schema undoubtedly has weaknesses, it is overall still helpful in identifying specific trends in scholarship. Here I am in virtual total agreement with the analysis offered by Michael F. Bird, “Is There Really a ‘Third Quest’ for the Historical Jesus?” in Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 24.2 (2006): 195-219.
[5] For the tendency of New Questers to focus on Jesus’ dissimilarity to the Judaism of his day see Dunn, Jesus Remembered, 87: “In the second quest the principal criterion, the criterion of dissimilarity, tried to make a virtue out of what second questers perceived as a necessity by reconstructing their picture of Jesus out of what distinguished Jesus from his historical context and set him over against his Jewish milieu.” Likewise, see Paul Achtemeier, Joel B. Green, and Marianne Meye Thompson, Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001), 60: “… the Second Quest made almost nothing of Jesus the Jew…”
[6] See Craig A. Evans, “Assessing Progress in the Third Quest of the Historical Jesus,” JSHJ (2006):37-8, who, speaking of this criterion, states: “Such a method… could hardly accommodate a portrait of Jesus that takes into account his Jewish context and the Jewish dimensions of his teaching and activities. Fortunately, this dubious criterion has received the trenchant criticism it deserves. Almost no one today is guided by it.” See also J. T. Sanders, “The Criterion of Coherence and the Randomness of Charisma: Poring through some Aporias in the Jesus Tradition,” NTS 44 (1988): 1-25: “Indeed, if there is one thing on which most scholars who have written on Jesus agree, it is that he was a religious Jew and that he therefore no doubt quoted scripture… This, of course, means that the criterion of dissimilarity is hogwash and everyone who writes on Jesus begins with some a priori assumptions that are never stated and often never examined.”
[7] The point was made by Morna Hooker, “On Using the Wrong Tool,” Th 75 (1972): 575. “In addition, see idem., “Christology and Methodology,” in New Testament Studies 17 (1970-1): 482. Hooker’s criticism has been picked up by many others. See, for example, Porter, The Criteria for Authenticity in Historical-Jesus Research, 74; Holmén, Tom Holmén, “Authenticity Criteria,” in Encyclopedia of the Historical Jesus (ed. C. A. Evans; New York / London: Routledge, 2008), 53; Theissen and Winter, The Quest for the Plausible Jesus, 21-22; Craig A. Evans, “Authenticity Criteria in Life of Jesus Research,” CSR 19 (1989), 15; John P. Meier, “The Present State of the Third Quest,” for the Historical Jesus: Loss and Gain’, Bib 80 (1999): 476. [8] See, among others, Hooker, “Using the Wrong Tool,” 575: “As far as Judaism is concerned, the discovery of the Qumran material should be sufficient warning against overconfidence in supposing that we know the whole truth about first-century Judaism. Any comparison between the beliefs of Judaism and the teaching of Jesus which claims to find ideas in the latter unparalleled in the former is inevitably an argument from silence, and should be treated as such.” See also Theissen and Winter, The Quest for the Plausible Jesus, 21-22: “Every claim to dissimilarity is necessarily an argument from silence, for dissimilarity, not to speak of underivability, cannot be verified historically. Such a verification would demand a complete picture of history, but sources always have only a fragmentary character.” Likewise, see Borg, Conflict, Holiness, and Politics in the Teachings of Jesus, 38: “…given our limited knowledge of both ancient Judaism and the ancient church, the claim that a saying is unparalleled (and hence authentic) is based on an argument from silence.”