Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Dale Allison: The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus
Over the SBL period I read Dale C. Allison's The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009). I enjoy Allison's books, but I have to confess that I always come away feeling a little depressed at the end. Allison strikes me as such a melancholic author. But in many cases he's right. We simply do not get out of historical Jesus research what we would like to get: historical certainty, a Jesus like us, a Jesus concerned about our concerns, etc. In this book, Allison writes a lot about the relationship between theology and history as well as the mistaken certainty of history in Jesus questing. One thing I took away from the book is that I think Allison makes a key point when he notes that even those who shaped the Jesus tradition were themselves shaped by Jesus. Consequently, the divide between authentic and inauthentic sayings is artificial. Even materials that are judged to be verbally inauthentic, can still summarize Jesus' authentic viewpoint. Allison is also on the money when he notes the pervasive nature of eschatology in Jesus' teaching/theology. He writes: "The matter of Jesus' own christology cannot be disentangled from his eschatological expectations, for in the Synoptics it is chiefly in logia about the last things that his status is most exalted" (p. 90). Next is to read his other new book Constructing Jesus: Memory, Imagination, and History (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2009).