The Jesus Seminar and John the Baptist


Does the Jesus Seminar also reject the claim that the Baptist was an apocalypticist?



This is a great question, and I’m afraid I don’t know the definitive answer – in part because the Jesus Seminar did not have one and only one view on many topics. The Seminar was made up of a group of scholars who got together twice a year to discuss which aspects of the traditions found in the Gospels (mainly the canonical Gospels along with the Gospel ...

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Final Loose Threads on the Zealot Hypothesis

I think I’ve gone on about Aslan’s Zealot long enough. Maybe more than long enough, many of you may think. My plan is to make this the last post. Let me reiterate that I think it is an exceptionally well-written, engaging book, and we can all be thankful to Aslan for bringing important historical issues about Jesus to the public attention. I may think that he’s wrong about his central thesis, and I may recognize a lot of ...

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Jesus’ Crucifixion as King of the Jews

It is often said that one of the best pieces of evidence that Jesus is to be understood as a political insurgent who favored the overthrow of the Roman empire by means of (human) force is that he was crucified on charges of political insurgency. If he was charged with insurgency, he was probably an insurgent. There is, of course, a powerful logic to this view, but it has its flaws, and an alternative explanation actually works better.

In terms of ...

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Jesus and the Temple

Back to Aslan’s Zealot. I will not be going on forever, but I do want to make a few final posts. So far I have shown that the book is filled with mistakes, some of them important, about the ancient world, about the New Testament, and about early Christianity. These are simply errors, things (I tried to show) that Aslan just got wrong. After that I tried to show why the thesis itself was highly problematic by taking ...

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More Evidence that Jesus was an Apocalypticist

I am not going to belabor the point much longer, that Jesus is best understood as a Jewish apocalypticist who anticipated that God was soon to enter into history to destroy the forces of evil and bring in his good kingdom; he was not a lestes, one who supported a military uprising against the Roman forces.  Rather than subscribing to the idea of military violence, Jesus believed that the Son of Man was coming in judgment and that ...

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The Later De-apocalypticizing of Jesus

Yesterday I started mounting the case that rather than being a zealot interested in a military overthrow of the Romans to reclaim the land for God, Jesus was an apocalypticist who believed that God himself would intervene in history to destroy the forces of evil (presumably including the Romans; and certainly including the Jews who were not “on the right side”) to set up his kingdom.

It is worth re-emphasizing that all over the map in our early sources Jesus speaks ...

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Back to Aslan’s Thesis. An Alternative View: Jesus the Apocalypticist

I have spent considerable time showing just how problematic Reza Aslan’s view of Jesus is, as he set it forth in his bestselling Zealot. But it is not enough to attack someone else’s position if you don’t agree with it. You also have to have an alternative that is more attractive. So it’s time to move into that realm.

As I have repeatedly stated on this blog, the view of Jesus that has dominated scholarship since the classic of ...

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2009 Debate With Mike Licona: Can Historians Prove the Resurrection of Jesus?

I’ve decided to take a day or so off from my discussions of Reza Aslan’s Zealot, both for my sanity and yours.  Here, for a bit of variety, is a video of a debate that I had a few years ago with Mike Licona on the topic or whether historians can *prove* that Jesus was raised from the dead.  Mike thinks the answer is “yes”; I think the answer is “no way.”  It’s important to note: the debate was *not* ...

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Fundamental Problems with Aslan’s Thesis

In my post of yesterday I moved beyond the simple errors of Aslan’s Zealot to discuss more substantive issues, taking his chapter “Zeal for your House” as both central to his argument (as he himself maintains) and highly problematic. Within the seven pages of this key chapter, I indicated that there are, by my count, six major problems, two of which I dealt with yesterday and the other four I will deal with here. Not only are some ...

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Aslan’s Key Chapter

After his 70-page introduction to the history of first-century Palestine, which I enjoyed, even if it was skewed to set up his thesis of Jesus as another-one-of-those-zealots, Aslan sets the stage for his entire discussion of the historical Jesus, in Part II, with his Prologue, “Zeal for your House.” Aslan sees the set of stories relates in this chapter as paradigmatic for understanding Jesus’ message and mission. As he says, this story, “more than any other word or deed, helps ...

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