Jesus-project: konference i Amherst

For historie-interessede, og specielt for folk interesserede i historien om det tidlige kristendom og om Jesus, er det måske af interesse at der i december-måned blev afholdt en konference, foranlediget af ‘Jesus-Project‘ (hjemmesiden er pt under bearbejdelse og det er egentlig ikke muligt at navigere sig videre fra forsiden endnu, men så er der da heldigvis en bagvej), med titel og undertitel; Sources of the Jesus Tradition: An Inquiry. Med deltagelse af en række historikere med speciale i tidlig kristendomshistorie. Richard Carrier (der endvidere har interesse i videnskabs- og teknologihistorie i antikken og senantikken) har på sin egen blog skrevet en fyldig gennemgang af konferencen oplæg (oplæggene skulle gerne udmynte sig i en bog, ved samme navn som konferencen, og er endvidere blevet optaget og skulle blive offentliggjort på et senere tidpunkt). Umiddelbart virker det til at konferencen var stærkt besat af skepticisme i forhold til kilderne til den historiske person Jesus, både hvad angår hvad han prædikede og gjorde, men også i tilfælde hvad angår en egentlig eksistens af Jesus, som er blevet betvivlet af nogen historikere. En skepticisme der fremgår af Carriers gennemgang af oplæggene:

He [Ronald Lindsay] also used Plato’s dialogues as an example of the rapid fabrication of sayings and conversations of a historical person (it is generally acknowledged that these are not a verbatim record, and often not even true at all, of what Socrates said), proving two points in one: that rapid fabrication of unchallenged legends is not improbable but in fact routine, and that such fabrication does not entail the non-historicity of the speaker.

To be precise, he [Gerd Lüdemann] concludes there is no reliable evidence regarding the historical Jesus in Paul’s letters. Lüdemann stops well short of concluding they don’t support his existence. He devoted some time to arguing that some evidence in the epistles shows Paul knew of such a person, he just didn’t know anything about him that we would consider useful. Instead, Lüdemann finds, Paul’s Jesus was clearly not based on the earthly Jesus at all (even if there was one) but the celestial Jesus that Paul in fact talks about constantly.

His [Justin Meggitt] published paper is going to be an absolute goldmine of resources and data on the comparative evidence of the ubiquity and rapidity of mythmaking in ancient Greco-Roman culture generally. Which makes for simple math: having showed that this was routine in the culture that produced the New Testament, we can no longer treat the New Testament as if it were somehow special or immune to the general trends and behaviors of the time. He concludes “we should expect mythmaking at [even] the earliest stage of the tradition.”

Throughout the conference [Dennis] MacDonald emphasized that his work and others’ essentially entail the Gospels should be entirely taken off the table when attempting to get at the historical Jesus, as they are not at all useful for any historical data

Man kan endvidere læse et eksempel på Carriers egen skepticisme omkring kilderne i hans blogindlæg om Ignatius, som traditionelt bruges til at datere evangelierne og i hans eget oplæg ved konferencen: “Bayes’ Theorem for Beginners: Formal Logic and Its Relevance to Historical Method — Adjunct Materials and Tutorial” (PDF-fil) og hans online-bog “Was Christianity Too Improbable to be False?“.

~ af sorensvendsen på januar 14, 2009.

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