Why does the question, “What do you do?” make so many people say, “I am a _____.”? Is it just for prestige? Or do we really think identity is the same thing as action? It reminds me of an old joke – Plato said, “To be is to do.” Aristotle said, “To do is to be.” But Sinatra settled the issue when he sang, “Do be do be do.”
When I was in college, in the early 90’s, it was vogue among evangelicals to focus on our “Identity in Christ”. As wonderful as that can be, I came to think the movement was basically repackaged psychology, a sneaky way to get people to behave better without focusing on 'works'. (That’s probably fine, but it’s not necessarily spiritual or divine. Whoops, now I’m off topic.)
Why do we have such confusion about behavior and identity? I ask because, whenever I’ve looked into “Historical Jesus Studies” one of my big frustrations is that I find the analyses heavy on “Who was this man?” and very light on “What did he do?”
Any good historical analysis should do both, of course, and I trust scholars know this. Therefore, I guess my real frustration is because Biblical Scholars decided as a group to act like we don’t know very much about the historical events in Jesus’ life.
I think we do. I just think we haven’t looked at things concretely enough. Why? Oh, brother, I don’t know. THAT is a whole other question…