Saturday, February 1, 2014

Jesus Seminar - Part 2

Methodology Utilized
First, let us explore the Jesus seminars methodology.  Seventy four of the two hundred scholars met on the campus of the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, the group attempted to examine the available sources, canonical and non-canonical, in a quest for “the voice of Jesus”, or as the sub-title of  The Five Gospels states “What did Jesus Really say.”  The procedure would be as follows: the group would meet biennially, each meeting focusing on a particular set of sayings attributed to Jesus with discussion of previously circulated position papers, with the view to achieving a consensus on the authenticity or non-authenticity of each of the sayings. After discussion and debate a vote would be taken, with each participant casting a colored bead into a box. There would be four colors: red, indicating that Jesus undoubtedly said this, or something very close; pink, indicating that Jesus probably said something like this; gray, indicating that Jesus did not say this, though the idea(s) contained in it may reflect something of Jesus' own; and black, indicating that Jesus did not say anything like it, the saying in question reflecting a different or later tradition.  Each color would be assigned a rating (red=3; pink=2; gray=1; black=0), and the results would be tabulated to achieve a "weighted average" on a scale of 1.00 (.7501 and up = red; .5001 to .7500 = pink; .2501 to .5000 = gray; .0000 to .2500 = black). The tabulated votes would be reflected in the published results, in which sayings attributed to Jesus would be color-coded, in a "red-letter edition" of the gospels.[1]   For example Matthew 5:43-48 looks like this:
43.“ As You know, we once were told, ‘You are to love your neighbor’ and ‘You are to hate your enemy.’ 44. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors. 45.You’ll then become children of your Father in the heavens. {God} causes the sun to rise on both the bad and the good, and sends rain on both the just and the unjust. 46. Tell me, if you love those who love you, why should you be commended for that? Even the toll collectors do as much, don’t they? 47. And if you greet only your friends, what have you done that is exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, don’t they? 48.To sum up, you are to be unstinting in your generosity in the way your heavenly Father’s generosity is unstinting.”[2]

The Jesus Seminar continued in their quest for six years, averaging around 30 participants per session[3]. They reported their results to the press in an attempt to “make the legacy of two hundred years of research and debate a matter of public record.”[4] Included in this project was also the a new translation of the gospels, known as "the Scholars Version." Which includes the Gospel of Thomas.  The results of all this work appeared in 1993: The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus, by Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, published by Macmillan in New York. 

[1] Funk et al, 37.
[2] Funk et al, 145.
[3] Birger A. Pearson. “Examining The Five Gospels” Religion 25 October, 1995. 32.
[4] Funk et al, 1.
[5] Funk et al , ix.
[6] Craig L.Blomberg. “The Seventy-Four ‘Scholars’: Who Does the Jesus Seminar Really Speak For?” The Christian Research Journal, Fall 1994, 32.
[7] Robert W. Funk and Mahlon H. Smith, The Gospel of Mark: Red-Letter Edition (Sonoma, CA: Polebridge, 1991), xvi-xvii.
[8] Blomberg.

No comments:

Post a Comment