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Historical Jesus - Help!!

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by Helena Handbasket, Apr 5, 2011.

  1. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket New commenter

    There are some writings in the Talmud and by Joesphus - I used these because they aren't written by supporters of Jesus.

    I have also used archaeological evidence (what my degree was in) for other evidence from the NT like a massive stone found in Caesarea dedicate to Pontius Pilate.
  2. http://www.rejesus.co.uk/

    lots of good stuff here if you dig around.
  3. When I taught the Death/Resurrection of Jesus last year, I got some of my most able students to play a role as one of the witnesses to the events surrounding Jesus' death, e.g. Pilate, Peter, a Roman Soldier, Mary Magdalene. I then got the rest of the students in groups to interview each of them and try to reach their own verdict as to what had happened. Fun lesson and it worked really well.

    Perhaps you could do something similar but with the different witnesses having different ideas about who Jesus was?

    Oh and PS - If you're doing the background to Jesus' life, you could try my XXX AD Factor Game in the resources section :)

    On a different note, I did quite a bit on the historicity of Jesus and the reliability of the Gospels in my lessons last year, but I've kept it to a minimum this time around: It seemed a bit inconsistent to start off with quite a sceptical "did Jesus exist/where's the evidence?" approach, when we weren't doing this when we studied the life of Muhammad later in the year. I wondered what other people think about this?
  4. PS - There were paragraphs when I typed that, they seem to have disappeared!!
  5. Oh wow, thanks for all your suggestions!!

    That website looks great [​IMG]
    I must admit to being slightly overwhelmed by a lot of the theology stuff, although a specialist, I'm more of a sociology of religion specialist!
    Pablo, thanks for the ideas, I think they'll work really well. I get what your saying about starting with the 'did Jesus exist' when comparing it to Muhammad, but, possibly because of our culture, a lot of the kids seem quite negative towards Jesus. I want to reinforce that he was a bloke, it's the Son of God part that's up for debate. It's not the aim of the whole SoW, just the intro couple of lessons. But I might throw in your point about Muhammad to get them thinking!

    Cheers everyone,

  6. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    hi guys. I just saw this. I'm on holiday so have no access to my files but I think Tacitus, Josephus and Suetonius are some of the non-Christian historians who mention Jesus. This is proof that he really lived, he was a genuine flesh and blood man who walked the earth at the start of the Common Era.
    This is something that can not be disputed. So nobody can argue that Christians made Jesus up. What they can argue about is just who Jesus was.
    Was he an ordinary man? (well, that's most unlikely because ordinary men don't make such a difference to the world and get remembered 2000 years later.
    Was he a dangerous rebel who needed to be stopped? (as many Jewish and Roman leaders of the time believed).
    Was he a saint, an exceptionally good and inspiring human being? (as many atheists and agnostics who respect what Jesus taught may wonder.)
    Was he the Messiah, the Christ, annointed or 'made king' by God? (which is the claim of Christianity.)
    Was he the Son of God, the unique Incarnation of God, both fully human and fully divine? (as most Christians believe.)
    Was he God-the-Son - with God-the -Father and God-The-Holy-Spirit an integral part of the Holy Trinity (as many Christians believe)?
    Was he a Prophet of God, in the same rank as Moses and Mohammed (as many Muslims believe)?
    Was he an Avatar, an incarnation of God - fully human and fully divine, but not unique as Avatars come into the world whenever there is the need for them and (according to many Hindus) others include Sri Rama, Sri Krishna and the Buddha.
    This may give your classes something to get their teeth into. But I would include with it some quotes from the Gospels which support the Christian claims.
  7. I taught a similar module in the 80s using an excellent book by K.R. Chappell called 'Investigating Jesus'. You can buy a copy on e-bay for 99p plus postage - it will cover everything you need for the 'Historical Jesus' question!

  8. Here's a list of primary sources for Jesus and Early Christianity.
    Some of the works are included in the New Testament, some are not. That would be a good starter exercise - list the works that are considered scriptural.

  9. Wasn't there some sort of Monty Python film that explained the whole thing?
  10. I'm not sure that the film would help or confuse, but I have used an excellent BBC film called 'Son of God' which deals with all aspects of the historical Jesus and uses historical, scientific, religious and archaeological sources to look at the historical Jesus of Nazareth. I'm not sure if it is still available from the BBC, but it is presented by Jeremy Bowen and has been an excellent resource for me.
  11. yes i use that dvd too
    resources on REstuff very good too
  12. In the Israeli Netzarim website (www.netzarim.co.il) you'll find everything from little-known documented history (e.g., click "30-99 C.E." in their "History Museum") to archeology (e.g., click "Mashiakh" or any of the other selections in their "History Museum") and all things relevant to the 1st century historical--Judaic as opposed to the Hellenist Roman "redo"--Pharisee Jew Ribi. Beware, it's a shocking eye-opener!
  13. This shows why, as an RE teacher, you have to be careful with sources.
    St Paul almost split the Church on the issue of whether Christians were bound by Jewish ritual law. It's very unlikely that there was, at the same time, a split on the much more serious issue of the divinity of Jesus, that went unrecorded.
    However it's possible that there was a group outside of the Church which accepted Jesus as a prophet whilst denying His divinity. They were marginal at best, having no real influence on subsequent Christianity or normative Judaism. A small group then tried to revive this long-forgotten sect.
    No recognised scholar accepts such a late date for NT. The letters to the Corinthians, for example, are quite clearly genuinely Pauline, containing embarrassing revelations of internal disputes and even accusations of financial impropriety. However, as the website admits, the Netzarim, if they existed, had absolutely no influence on the texts.
    Low quality sources like this can't be accepted by teachers uncritically. However there's a real debate to be had over whether they can be used pedagogically.

  14. I don't know where you're making up your sources from but ALL legitimate scholars recognize that the earliest extant sources of the NT are the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, both of which date from the 4th century C.E. Aside from that are a handfull of scratchings (papyri) that could be student exercises or almost anything, and none of them even pre-date 135 C.E. There are writings from today about that period too, but no serious scholar would claim that, merely because they talk about the 1st century, that they actually date from the 1st century C.E. The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible even acknowledges that there are tens of thousands of redactions in the sources I just mentioned; all aimed at Christianizing the accounts as viewed by Church Fathers of the 2nd-4th centuries.
    Please don't be superficial.
  15. The earliest extant manuscript represents the last possible date of composition, not the likely date, which is inferred by other methods. There are thousands of early Christian manuscripts, and you get a figure of "tens of thousands of redactions" by labelling every scribal error or slight variant a 'redaction". In fact there are only a handful of serious variants - the end of Mark's gospel and the woman taken in adultery the only ones of real importance.
    This should all be sorted out in any freshman theology class.

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