I am grateful to Nick Norelli who was adamant that I read Anthony Le Donne‘s Historical Jesus: What Can We Know and How Can We Know It? These are some excerpts from the early part of the book that have caught my attention:
“…it must be said that there is no need to draw a line between the text as a document of faith and the same text as a document of history. Those who attempt to arrive at a non-religious historical Jesus do not follow the advice of any contemporary philosophy of history. These interpreters do not strip away religious elements from the gospels because they are hostile to Christianity; they do so because they are poor historians.”
(p. 8). Kindle Edition.
“We can study Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John as literary units and also use these books as sources for the historical Jesus. One does not preclude the other.”
(p. 9). Kindle Edition.
“…even before Jesus became a historical figure, he was the object of people’s perceptions. In other words, people saw his actions, heard his words, felt his touch. Therefore it will be necessary to have some understanding of how perception functions. It is perception that shapes the nature of Jesus’ impact from the very beginning.”
(p. 15). Kindle Edition.
“My point is that every thought, conscious or subconscious, is the result of interpretation and has some relationship with the external world – other people, things, ideas.”
(pp. 18-19). Kindle Edition.
“What is often overlooked is the fact that the NT was composed, for the most part, by deeply religious Jews. There are a few exceptions, but most of the books in the NT were composed by Jews, for Jews, about matters of Jewish theology. This is because Jesus’first followers, his first audiences, his first adversaries, and his first believers and skeptics were Jewish folk. So in order to understand Jesus’words, we must try to hear him as his contemporaries heard him.”
(p. 19). Kindle Edition.
“Perception is filtered through familiar thought categories. Indeed, interpretation requires that certain patterns of mental categorization are in place.”
(pp. 22-23). Kindle Edition.
As I continue to read this book I am sure I will share more. One thing is for sure, I regret not attending some sessions where Le Donne was a participant as SBL. Maybe next year!