Over the last few years of maintaining Sententias I’ve decided to start a very long series that may be used to assist the curious and the new believers. The material will progress from the most basic elements of theology and philosophy [as it relates to the faith]. Then it will progress towards other doctrinal issues and then on to more peripheral issues. All the while there will be intermittent points of reflection and Bible study material.
This will be designed for either a group of individuals (if someone is being discipled by a mature Christian) or by someone who happens to be alone (where this can help get them going until they can find someone to teach them one on one).
I will soon post an outline of what I intended to include. The general format will be that of the famous spider web example. In the centre of the web will be the essentials (e.g. the existence of God, deity of Jesus, atonement, repentance and faith, etc.). In the inner rings will be important but non-salvific and non-gospel issues (e.g. theories of the atonement [I will advocate substitionary], biblical inerrancy, etc.). Then on the more outer rings there will be tentatively held issues like dating, authorships, textual transmission, gifts of the Holy Spirit, etc.
The disciples were not expecting the Christ and Messiah to be a spiritual Messiah, rather, they expected the Messiah to be a political Messiah redeeming indentured Israel from Roman captivity and rule. According to church tradition, eleven of the twelve disciples (later apostles) died for their belief in the resurrection of Jesus. What can account for such belief and fortitude? It would be unlikely that the disciples contrived the resurrection as a means of social, spiritual, or a political influence. All eleven died independently from each other and never retracted their belief. There are martyrs today but there would be no reasonable explanation for why the disciples would die for something they knew to be false and never retracted it, independent of each other’s influence, before their deaths. Paul accounted for the disciples’ belief in the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15.9-11 and Galatians 2.1-10
Last October (2012) Gary Habermas delivered a lecture to the Ratio Christi chapter at Liberty University on the historical data concerning the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The video was professionally captured and you may view the videos in the links below.
Recently, Dr. Michael Licona (Houston Baptist University) spent time in Canada debating Yale professor Dr. Dale Martin on questions concerning the resurrection and self-understanding of Jesus. Below are links to the videos.
Dr. Michael Licona and Dr. Dale Martin discuss the question “Did Jesus Physically Rise From the Dead?” The first evening of the 2012 Religion Soup discussion took place Oct 18, 2012 at St. Mary’s University.
Wallace: There are seven manuscripts that have been discovered in the last few months (May 2012). They are all papyri from the gospels and Paul’s letters (including Hebrews because that’s how the manuscripts treat them.) These seven manuscripts are all either second century, one probably first century, and two maybe third century… What’s remarkable is there’s a Luke fragment that is probably first half of the second century, which is coequal with the oldest known manuscript, P52, which is John… Keep watching!
Though there is no set date (considered to be the late 1970s to present day), the third quest for the historical Jesus began as a reaction against the second search. Theological assumptions were controlling historical investigation. It attempts to do history apart from theological presuppositions, which yielded two results. First, there were many divergent positions from evangelical scholars to liberal theologians. Second, the third search, in general, is much more open to the supernatural. Miracles are not ruled out a priori.
There are a few major characteristics unique to the third search. There was an emphasis and concentration on understanding Jesus as a first century Jew–the social and religious climate becomes paramount. A rejection of strict attachment to the “criteria” of the second search, especially the criteria of double dissimilarity. There was a high view of the accuracy of the oral tradition.
After the period of no quest ended in 1953 the second, and present, search for the historical Jesus began. On October 23, 1953 Ernst Käsemann delivered a lecture titled “The Problem of the Historical Jesus.” Käsemann was critical of the discontinuity of history and faith and that Jesus must be rooted in history to some degree to avoid docetism, which would allow Christ to be formed however the scholar wills.
In 1956 Günther Bornkamm wrote a book titled Jesus of Nazareth and, along the same lines, James M. Robinson wrote A New Quest for the Historical Jesus in 1959. They argued that faith does not depend on history; rather, a certain amount of “pre-easter” history about the historical Jesus could be known and this was vital to understanding Christian kerygma.
After the first search for the historical Jesus ended in 1906 the next search, or better said, the period of no quest, began and lasted until 1953. At this point there was little optimism for finding the “historical Jesus.” Karl Barth (1886-1968) was the key figure during this time. He claimed that the Jesus of history has little to do with theology–the Christ of faith is more important. Barth ushered in Neo-Orthodoxy–an emphasis on sin, sovereignty, grace, and faith. This was a de-emphasis on what actually happened.
This led to form criticism: An analysis of the forms in which the narratives of the gospels come down to us. Not literary, but their pre-literary oral forms. The idea was that different kinds of stories have distinctive kinds of forms that effect how they should be interpreted: miracle stories, healing stories, apothegms, etc.
There are three main reasons why the search for the historical Jesus began (of three searches). The first is the problems raised in the Gospels such as consistency, apparent contradictions, historical accuracy, etc. Then there was the problem posed by the Reformation in completely changing the perspective on the Bible and Jesus. Finally, there was the current worldview of modernity. This led many to believe that the Gospels do not give an accurate portrayal of the real Jesus, which caused the need to search through all the sources to find the historical Jesus.
The first search was from 1778-1906. Rationalism and deism became the dominant epistemology and worldviews in the eighteenth century. In 1778 Hermann Reimarus wrote On the Intention of Jesus and the Disciples and was the first to make the distinction between the Christ of faith and the Jesus of history. A gap began to form between history and faith.
Numerous other fictions “lives” of Jesus were written throughout the late eighteenth and into the nineteenth century. These writers included K.F. Bardht (1792), K.H. Venturini (1809), and Heinrich Paulus (1828).