Monday, February 20, 2006

Crossley, crossly(?!), on Blomberg

Among the recent offerings in SBL's online Review of Books, James Crossley's review of Craig Blomberg, Contagious Holiness: Jesus' Meals with Sinners stands out. Scot McKnight has also given this book some play on his blog,

Public note to self: if I ever write something that may require or benefit from a good thorough smack-down, send it to James!

I haven't read the book, but the critical remarks seem relatively fair, particularly on the 'historicity' question. I think in many cases Blomberg and others would be better off saying, "I'm not going to argue for historicity on this pericope, but I will assume it for the sake of the present discussion (perhaps also offering arguments why it shouldn't be rejected as ahistorical)." In passing, though, if CB thinks Jesus is superior to anything else he has found, then I don't think one should require him to argue otherwise, though maybe JC is trying to say that there's not as much evidence for that as CB thinks. I haven't read this book, so I'm not entirely sure what inspired James's response here.


Blogger James Crossley said...

I think you are right Jason. I'm certainly not hostile to conservative approaches to the gospel tradition and have even been 'accused' of it myself. But the idea that it 'could reflect Jesus' teaching' without saying whether it definitely happened or not makes a lot of sense and could provide the foundation for an argument (Rafael where are you?)

To be fair I did say the book has a lot of perfectly good material. I suppose my main problem was that Blomberg's Jesus comes across as more loving and more decent than anyone else. No one else seems capable of doing such decency and so on. That seems to me something difficult to establish historically. I think if we are doing historical Jesus things then it is worthwhile paying some attention to the way history is practised and I'm not sure the discipline does that despite all the rhetoric.

5:55 AM, February 21, 2006  
Blogger J. B. Hood said...

Thanks James! Mostly just wanted to see if you were reading!!! ;)

(I promise never to make such a face in a post again.)

I presume Rafael is not reading...

Blomberg's Jesus comes across as more loving and decent...
Would you say that if I'm to believe that, it's a matter of faith (in documents or whatever), not historical investigation? Just for the record--again I haven't read this text--I personally think Jesus is far from what modern people would call "decent"--way too much fire.

9:40 AM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger James Crossley said...

I'm always reading Jason!

It is a tricky one to evaluate such claims historically. Firstly, I'm worried because in this instance i think there are parallels to Jesus' behaviour in early Judaism and there is also plenty we just don't know. I think too many people just ignore parallels and state Jesus has done somethign out of the blue. All religions teach love, kindness and all that and all religions have their traits that many regard as unfortunate.

Also, I'm a bit suspicious (and we're back on an old theme here) that an evangelical Christian who obviously belives his religion is superior to another studies the texts and comes up with an evangelical Jesus superior to Judaism. I also suspect it could never have been otherwise. Therefore I wonder what the point of it all is if the answers are already known.

8:06 AM, February 23, 2006  
Anonymous Dan said...

Well, I'm happy to have stumbled on to this blog.

I'm about 3/4 of the way through Blomberg's book. To be fair, it should be noted that Blomberg ensures that his Jesus is significantly less "loving and decent" than the Jesus of Ed Sanders.

Blomberg is not just presenting a Jesus that fits with contemporary notions of "love and kindness". Thus, unlike Sanders, he retains the Jewish emphasis upon repentance.

Grace and peace,


9:58 AM, March 05, 2006  

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