Saturday, June 23, 2007

The 12 Worst Ideas to Gain Currency in NT Studies

What are the twelve worst ideas to have gained currency in NT studies in the twentieth century? I don't mean weird and esoteric stuff like "Jesus learned Buddhism in India", but more mainstream stuff that was (or still is) widely regarded and yet has been discredited? Here's my list:

1. The Gnostic Redeemer Myth
2. Form Criticism
3. The Cynic Jesus
4. The Fourth Gospel as Hellenistic Dogma in a Christian garb
5. Judaism as uniformly legalistic
6. "Early Catholicism"
7. Pre-Christian Gnosticism
8. Palestinian Christianity vs. Hellenistic Christianity
9. The swoon theory on the Resurrection.
10. Radical reader-response criticism.
11. The postulation of a "Q" or "Johannine" community
12. The view that there was no Jesus questing between Schweitzer and Kasemann.

Note: A large number of these views can be associated with Bultmann and his progeny!

12 comments:

Doug Chaplin said...

Hmm. I think I'd question whether the view of Judaism as uniformly legalistic gained currenyc in c20, rather than inherited it.
I'd modify number 11, to include all "evangelists' communities", and modify 12 to include continouous questing throughout c20.
Given that I've argued (5) pre-dates c20, I'd replace it with either the idea that "Aramaisms" are essential to recovering the historical Jesus, or better the criterion of double dissimilarity.

Chris Weimer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Weimer said...

No. 2 I disagree with, but find that it rarely is used appropriately.

And I agree with Doug about No. 5 and 11.

The rest I more or less agree with you.

John Lyons said...

A strange use of 'discredited', Mike. BTW can I swap your radical reader response criticism for any form of inerrancy? Or RRC for the idea of a non-theological historical criticsm still pushed by April Deconick and the new Jesus Project?

James Crossley said...

I'm with John on rRRCriticism. In many ways it has paved the way for various reception historical approaches.

On Aramaisms (Doug's no. 5), the son of man problem and the historical Jesus would be impossible without the concept of Aramaisms.

Michael Pahl said...

I'm not willing to give up a Johannine community just yet, depending on how tightly you define "community." But you can certainly get rid of the Q community (and Q right along with it, IMHO) along with other Gospel communities. Other than that, not a bad list. An interesting list, though, with some items more broadly "discredited" than others, and with a few items not really "discredited" at all, in the sense that they are still widely believed (note the "cred-" root), "credited" with significant explanatory power.

Doug Chaplin said...

I think I'm astounded by James Crossley's comment. (Not the Son of Man bit: it's a place where discussion of Aramaic idiom has a significnat place). I am not remotely convinced that Aramaisms have any significant place in historical Jesus research. First, I think that the language of the Septuagint distorts the whole question. Second, I can imagine a Jesus-saying that actually enters the Greek tradition well-translated by a fluently bilingual follower of Jesus showing little trace of the source language. Thirdly I can imagine a saying of Jesus made up by an Aramaic speaking follower. But finally, and above all, I'm totally with Sanders when he points out that concentration on sayings is seriously overdone. I still stand by what I said.

Doug Chaplin said...

Hmm, I've thought a bit more about this, and elaborated a fuller version here.

James Crossley said...

Come on Doug, a little less of the fake outrage!!!

Doug said: 'I think I'm astounded by James Crossley's comment. (Not the Son of Man bit: it's a place where discussion of Aramaic idiom has a significnat place).I am not remotely convinced that Aramaisms have any significant place in historical Jesus research.'

But the son of man bit was the only bit on Aramaisms that I mentioned. I said nothing else on the subject:
'On Aramaisms (Doug's no. 5), the son of man problem and the historical Jesus would be impossible without the concept of Aramaisms.'

Doug Chaplin said...

James, I may have misunderstood what you were saying. I read your first comment as meaning that Aramaisms were necessary both a) for the Son of man problem and b) for the historical Jesus. Your second comment implies you meant "the son of man problem as a specific issue in historical Jesus study." I have no problems with that if that's what you meant. But since I read you as saying more than that (i.e. my (b) above) my surprise (not outrage!) may have been exaggerated, but wasn't entirely fake. :-;

James Crossley said...

Yes, the weaker sense is the sense I meant...if that makes sense (sounding like Rumsfeld now). Like I said on my blog Doug, I'm strong, I can survive!! ;-)

Loren Rosson III said...

Most of these are pretty bad, but I'd stake half my bank account that there was a Johannine community.