June 25, 2010

Have we no Christian historians?

Scot McKnight keeps feeling the need to clarify (for some) the main point of his recent CT article (April, 2010) about which there was much discussion on several biblioblogs.  Personally, I still think Christians are too defensively minded when they engage with History and that the Church should be more proactive (for our own sakes) in constructing larger narratives about the cannonical Jesus.

For his part, Scot points out once again that his only critique was against "the Historical Jesus enterprise" as it has been typically practiced.  I cannot agree more.  Clipping out parts of the Gospels and then putting it all together creatively is NOT something I've ever valued myself, as a believer.  But then... as believers... what else might we do?

Here's what I'm wondering.  When Scot says he's FOR "doing history" and "the value of history when it comes to our knowledge about Jesus" - how does that jibe, in his mind, with his very next statement?
The Church has a Jesus; it is found in the apostolic witness to Jesus in the Four Gospels. That is the Jesus upon whom we need to focus.
Amen.  AND that should include historical focus, Scot, right?  I'm not sure Scot agrees.  Again, one sentence later, his closing question asks us to choose "The Church's Jesus or the historian's Jesus". Yes, I get what Scot's contrasting, but his rhetorichal flourish still (technically) concludes by emphasizing a false dichotomy. Straight after affirming "history", Scot denounces "historians".  Sigh.  It's so hard to use words.

To reality, then:  Can't the church have historians? Ones whose rigorous academic goals are aimed at the church, and not focused on interactions with heathen? I'm still looking for such persons.

In all this - it has just now occurred to me - I'd gotten the impression Scot himself was not such a person himself. Not a Christian Historian. But maybe he is. I suppose then it's time I search out some of Scot's books to find out for myself. That is, unless some gentle reader can helpfully save me the bother...

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