Tuesday, September 13, 2005

John, History & Jesus

Michael Bird alerts us to some of the issues in using the Gospel of John as a source for studying the historical Jesus. I have long felt that if scholars can find authentic material in the sayings of Thomas, then John must be re:considered for historical value.
It is the strongest short-coming of Wright's work that he does not fully explore the potential of the Gospel of John as a historical source for the understanding Jesus. Meier has given us a more balanced approach but still, it doesn't seem good enough. I'm looking forward to reading Eddies copies of Craig Keener's excellent The Gospel of John: A Commentary, which apparently argues for much authentic tradition. For those interested, David Wenham has a helpful article: A Historical View of John's Gospel. I didn't much care for Blomberg's book on The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel. I don't know why, but the arguments seemed so strained. Hopefully Keener will be more helpful.
My former teacher, Dr. Derek Tovey wrote an interesting proposal for understanding John in his book: Narrative Art and Act in the Fourth Gospel, [Sheffield Academic Press, 1997]. Yet while I appreciate the insights of the various hermeneutical methods, this one being narrative criticism, the historian in me just wants to weigh the material and allow my historical imagination to run wild as I grapple with the mysteries of who Jesus was, and is... and what he was trying to accomplish... and what he actually did accomplish.

1 comment:

eddie said...

I read most of Tovey's book and I have to say that I found it overly complex in its adoption of narrative criticism meant for full length novels. So I didnt follow through to its discussion of historicity, as reading through his method, I thought that it was too going to end up far from provable.

Is this a fair comment? I'l have to go back and read it right through some time.