Sunday, January 9, 2011

Historical Jesus methodologies

Here is a nice review to open a Sunday; let's talk the historical Jesus. The first podcast to go to for input in the historical Jesus is Stanford's Historical Jesus by Thomas Sheehan* (feed). There is some brief discussion at Yale, in Dale B. Martin's course Introduction to New Testament History and Literature (feed), but Martin keeps it short as he reveals that he teaches an independent course on the subject - when will that one come out in podcast?

Right now a series is running as part of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean by Philip Harland (feed). Whereas Sheehan pushes towards a very specific conclusion and uses mostly literary interpretation, Harland is more tentative and uses a wider spectrum of methods. Sheehan comes off as more of a Theology professor and Harland as a historian in comparison. By all means both of them are very interesting, yet for the historical effort, I am very much charmed by Harland's course and would like to draw your attention to the issue of methodology.

First of all Harland explains the various methodologies at the beginning of the section. In addition to the literary approach, he adds the few pieces of data that arise from there and puts them in a wider historical context, using other sources historical and archeological. For example, in the last issue, he takes the indications that Jesus was a healer and exorcist and digs into sources about other healers and exorcists around the same place and time. He tells about Hanina Ben Dosa and Honi haM'agel in order to extrapolate what might have been the facts with the historical Jesus.

* Be aware that Sheehan's course has some very low audio and the lectures are coming out of the feed in correct order. A syllabus comes along that will guide you to the correct sequence.

More Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean:
6 more podcasts I listened to when I was away from the blog,
Jesus - Egalitarian or Apocalyptic,
Historical Jesus (2) - Philip Harland,
Historical Jesus (1) - Philip Harland,
Early Christianity podcasts.
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