Friday, March 11, 2011

Allison: Jesus' Death via Paul 2

Previously: pp. 387-92

Now: pp. 392-95
Now Allison begins to do an experiment.  If all we had were Paul's writings, what would we suppose about Jesus' death.  To many this will seem needlessly pedantic, but this is the work of an objective historian.  No serious historian of any stripe questions that Paul wrote the bulk of the letters with his name on them.  I myself further consider it historical incompetence (of any stripe, atheist or otherwise) to think that Paul's witness to this period is irrelevant to the historical particulars of Jesus and earliest Christianity.

So if we must prove everything, why not start with Paul.

These four pages whip off 2 of Allison's points via this "experiment."
1. Jesus was crucified.  Paul mentions the cross and crucifixion many times.

2. Jesus' crucifixion involved nailing him (ropes could be used instead).  We find references to blood, the marks (e.g., Gal. 6:17), etc.  We find an interesting aside interspersed in this discussion.  Roman Catholics have sometimes had a tendency to over-read Paul's mention of bearing the marks of Christ, as if he had stigmata like St. Francis.  But Protestants have sometimes under-read Galatians 6:17, as if Paul couldn't possibly compare his scars with Jesus'.

This is what I like about scholars like Allison, Dunn, etc.  Disagree with them we may, but they are really interested in the most likely conclusion, whatever it may be.  They cut through so many games of so much scholarship aimed at reinforcing traditions denominational, liberal, and evangelical alike.  It's just straight historical method, wherever they think it leads.  It's a breath of fresh air to me.

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