procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

History versus Theological Intent

that's what my essay's on. i've done 8hrs of reading thus far, still not sure what my question is asking.*

but i keep coming back to Spike Milligan's introduction to his ground-breaking memoir, Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall.

“Of the events of the war, I have not ventured to speak from any chance information, nor according to any notion of my own. I have described nothing but what I saw myself, or learned from others of whom I have made the most careful and particular inquiry”.
          Thucydides, Peloponnesian War.

“I’ve just jazzed mine up a little”.
          Spike Milligan, WWII.

so is that what the evangelists have done? just jazzed it up a little?
are they historical fictions? are they based on a true story?

does it matter - it's all about faith, the Christ we apprehend by faith. but what's the point of a faith approachable only in a mythical fable?

* i mean, i do know what it's asking, the question is: The historicity of the synoptic gospels is compromised by their theological intent. discuss. i just don't know what it's asking. that's all.

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OpenID nathanjameslee said...

Is not the question simply asking you to assess the validity of the claim that the gospels cannot be trusted (because they were written with a particular bias)?

4:51 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

hi nath

it's not asking less than that, but it's trying to get us to understand the quest for the historical jesus.

while there's no doubt (at least for reasonable people!) that there was someone called jesus, and that the gospels give us a true insight into greco-roman palestine in the first century, the contention isn't that it didn't happen, but maybe that it isn't important - that we get a picture of a tortured soul, or a failed revolutionary, or an existentialist jesus.

to what degree should we follow bultmann's demythologisation, getting right into their worldview etc.

put another way, maybe the question isn't 'prove to me that jesus existed' but 'prove to me that despite being written to elicit faith and to meet the needs of the church, that despite the not-necessarily-historical-authorial-intentions, there is still more than just a kernel of historicity in the gospels.'

i think.

10:03 am  
OpenID nathanjameslee said...

Hmmm...I think I get where you're going with Bultmann, but there isn't the issue whether or not the gospels account for historic events more than historical ones?

Whereas, I'm suggesting the question is concerned with the gospels' historicity, that is, the historical genuineness of the events recorded.

For example, we know that each evangelist carefully arranged his material (not always chronologically) to suit his particular theological intent. Does this mean we can't trust them to have told us how events really happened, or who people really were - most pointedly, who Jesus really was? ie. Are the gospels a case of truth obscured by bias?

(Of course, feel free to interpret the question as you wish - it's your essay after all!)

11:17 am  

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