Methodology

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    McKnight, Scot

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    "The Historical Jesus, the Death of Jesus, Historiography, and Theology", an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Jesus And His Death: Historiography, the Historical Jesus, And Atonement Theory

    "When academics stand before an audience and explain a view of the historical Jesus—in this case how Jesus understood his own death—and when the historical Jesus case is made in the context of a theological discipline and education, the scholar may think he or she is walking on water, but the voices of truth are calling out to the scholar to watch each step. The waters tend to swallow. Shorn of metaphor, we might say these voices of truth ask three questions: What is history? What is a historical Jesus? What role is that historical Jesus to play in the theological curriculum? Each question needs to be answered, but particularly the third because very few historical Jesus scholars operate in a vacuum."
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    Osborne, Grant R.

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    The Evangelical and Traditionsgeschichte

    "Traditionsgeschichte is one of the two important stepchildren of form criticism, the other being Redaktionsgeschichte...The method itself seeks to determine the growth of a particular concept or tradition within the history of the early Church...We may distinguish a positive and a negative pole within this approach. Positively, it helps to clarify the meaning of a concept or the use of a tradition at each stage of its development...Negatively, it makes judgements on the authenticity of gospel pericopae. For example, it tries to determine how far back the particular tradition goes."
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    Stein, Robert H.

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    The “Criteria” for Authenticity

    "It is evident from even a cursory reading of the literature that scholarly attitudes toward the historicity of the gospel materials vary drastically. On the one side we have those scholars who possess a positive attitude toward the gospel materials and state ‘In the synoptic tradition it is the inauthenticity, and not the authenticity, of the sayings of Jesus that must be demonstrated’. On the other side we have those who possess an equally negative attitude toward the materials...[T]here exist certain tools which can be used to ascertain the historicity, or at least the historical probability, of a specific saying, teaching, or action of Jesus found in the Gospels. These ‘tools’ or ‘rules of thumb’ have been referred to as ‘criteria’ by which the authenticity (or unauthenticity) of certain material can be established."
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    Stewart, Tyler A.

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    Method and Historiography: Aiming for Jesus

    "The question of this essay is whether or not one can know the aims of Jesus. It will be argued below that to know the aims of a historical agent is to know their history. Thus to make a claim for the aims of Jesus is to make a claim for what can be known about him historically. It is the intention of this essay to prove that a meaningful historical reconstruction concerning Jesus of Nazareth must produce a compelling renarration of his aims. After defining some terms it will be pertinent to examine how to do historiography. Asking, what are the nature and aims of historiography itself? As well as, what kind of knowledge is historical knowledge? Moving then to the tools of history that have been employed in the quests for Jesus, discovering what tools have been proved helpful to produce good history and what ought to be abandoned or augmented to do better history. Finally, a brief argument will be set forth for Jesus’ aims specifically concerning his death in order to put these tools to the task."
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    Willitts, Joel

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    Presuppositions and Procedures in the Study of the ‘Historical Jesus’: Or, Why I Decided Not to be a ‘Historical Jesus’ Scholar

    "This article provides a detailed description of the presuppositions and procedures of a representative group of six scholars currently contributing to the study of the ‘historical Jesus’. The intention of the study was to draft a ‘handbook’, a ‘recipe’, of the best methods and the surest presuppositions for achieving the result of a solid historical conclusion about Jesus. What resulted from the project was not what had been hoped. In fact, what resulted was a deep scepticism about the quest, at least as it is currently being conducted. Though, admittedly, not offering solutions, this article seeks to raise questions about the real potential and usefulness of any quest for the so-called ‘historical Jesus’."