Digging For The Historical Jesus -- By: Paul Ferguson

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 26:2 (Spring 2013)
Article: Digging For The Historical Jesus
Author: Paul Ferguson


Digging For The Historical Jesus

Paul Ferguson

Lessons From Archaeology For New Testament Form Criticism

The above title is based on a book written by a very famous German scholar named Albert Schweitzer in 1906. In his seminal study he introduced a new development into New Testament studies. The historical element would no longer be completely discarded. There could now be hope that a small amount of data on the Historical Jesus might be uncovered. This information was hidden in layers of tradition put down by the authors of the Gospels, editors and the early Church tradition (Schweitzer 1910). Efforts to salvage the real words of Jesus trapped under layers of extraneous material in the Gospels are called “form criticism.”

Dr. Eta Linnemann was intensely pursuing the “quest” laid down by Schweitzer. She was an accredited German professor at Marburg who studied under Rudolph Bultmann and other prominent liberals. She rose in the ranks of German scholarship, being lauded and celebrated by the critical scholarly world. In her book called Jesus of the Parables (Linnemann 1966), the critics thought she had made a new and original way to help uncover the “Historical Jesus” from the rubble of Church tradition in which He was buried.

When she actually found the living Historical Jesus, He changed her life and delivered her from destructive bondages. She was shocked to discover it was she, not Jesus, who had been buried. She had been enveloped in a mass of critical theories and circular reasoning by her former professors and mentors (Linnemann 1992: 10). She rose from the ashes of unbelief to become a very fervent evangelical.

This article shows the dilemma caused by a host of brilliant, enthusiastic scholars who were looking for Jesus in all the wrong places, with the wrong suppositions and the wrong methods. It will also explain how an accredited member of this group was able to finally find the real Historical Jesus. We begin by surveying places where no one should have been looking in the first place.

Where The Historical Jesus Is NOT Found

1. He Is Not To Be Found As A Broken Monument Buried Under Layers Of Debris Like An Archaeological Mound

Albert Schweitzer, in his Quest of the Historical Jesus, claimed that the Gospel of Mark is not a unified history of the ministry and life of Jesus. It is, rather, a series of many independent units put together and modified by the early Christian community to support various church doctrines. He stated that the sections were fused together by a very delicate solder, giving it the illusion of a unified work. He claimed that when this bonding is “exposed to the cold air of critical skepticism it cracks.” The furnace of mod...

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