2010 Jesus

Session 1

The Zadokite Displacement and Jesus of Nazareth: Understanding Jesus of Nazareth's Use of the Key Signifier of Gathering

It is the very displacement of the Zadokite authority structure and the ensuing fracture of the Israelite society that allowed Jesus of Nazareth to gain currency in ancient Palestine among the Jewish population. The Psalms of Solomon is a Zadokite propaganda literature that provides a picture into proactive proliferation of dissident literature against the dominant Hasmonian (and later Herodian) power structure. Furthermore, the Psalms of Solomon explains what happened. The righteous were scattered (PsSol 17:18-20), so that there was a need for ingathering (PsSol 11). The error of the Zadokites in the scattering process encouraged Jesus of Nazareth to seek ingathering of his disciples, in an effort not to repeat the mistake of the Teacher of the Righteousness of the Qumran community, who failed to ingather dispersed Zadokites. As Professor William Horbury of Cambridge University has noted, Jesus of Nazareth's language of ingathering is similar to the language of ingathering found in the Psalms of Solomon. In Matthew 12:22-37, a Gospel pericope dealing with the conflict between the Pharisees and Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus of Nazareth proclaims: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters” (verse 30). Certainly, Jesus of Nazareth is using a key signifier of gathering to recall the call by the Zadokite propagandist of the Psalms of Solomon. The Jesus movement understood from the recent history of the Zadokites that if the disciples were not actively and effectively gathered with the result that only a few gather, then there is no hope for survival. Lessons learned from the failure of the Zadokites certainly created an impetus of gathering that allowed the early Christian movement to survive and even thrive.

Session 2

Michael Zolondek (University of Edinburgh)

We Have Found the Messiah: The Disciples' View of Jesus and Its Implications for the Messianic Question

The question of whether Jesus claimed to be the Messiah is one of the most important in historical Jesus research. Not surprisingly, the words and deeds of Jesus often take center stage in scholars' answers to this question. This paper, however, is concerned with an issue that has not been given the attention it deserves in this debate: the belief held by Jesus' inner circle of disciples, often referred to as the Twelve, that Jesus was the Messiah. I argue that the following pericopae are, at their cores, historical and that they reveal that Jesus' disciples believed he was the Messiah from the time they first began following him until the end of his ministry: John 1.35-51; Mark 8.27-30; 10.35-45; Luke 24.13-35; Acts 1.6-8.

In the course of my analysis of John 1.35-51, I argue that of the numerous figures whom scholars have identified as the Baptist's coming one, the Davidic Messiah is by far the best option. I further argue that the expectations of the disciples revealed in the pericopae listed above best fit the expectations associated with the Davidic Messiah. Therefore, although there was a range of messianic expectations in Jesus' time, I conclude that the disciples regarded him as the Davidic Messiah.

I then explore the implications of my findings. Firstly, the titulus could not have been the origin of the messianic title, as suggested by N. A. Dahl and others. Secondly, pericopae cannot be stripped of their messianic overtones, nor have their historicity questioned, primarily on the basis that they portray Jesus' words and deeds as messianic; Jesus had to have said and done enough things that were sufficiently messianic to give rise to the disciples' belief. Thirdly, one must ask why Jesus' words and deeds were readily interpreted by the disciples as messianic if this was not his intention. In the end, this paper reinforces the view that Jesus made a messianic claim for himself.

Session 3

Mike Gilchrist

The Ending of Mark's Gospel

This paper assesses Mark's intentions as to a continuation of his Gospel after 16:8, via analysis of

  • events foreshadowed in the text,
  • instances where the plot avoids an obvious line of development, and
  • cases where the text is obscure, where there may be a later resolution,

and concludes that the plot continues with the disciples returning to Galilee, abandoning their mission and unaware of the empty tomb. There they meet the risen Jesus, who commissions them as apostles. At this point, the women report their experience, thus making the empty tomb an essential part of the story. The implications for study of the historical Jesus are:

  • In the 'tomb' story, Mark attempts to write factual history. By extension, this is presumably his policy elsewhere.
  • Parts of the 'tomb' story indicate pre-Marcan discussion of the events, in debates which were intended to establish matters of fact.
  • Mark believes that Jesus rose on the 'third day' but was not seen until later, in Galilee. There is thus an irreconcilable clash with Luke over the timing and location of the first resurrection appearance.
  • The forecast attributed to Jesus, that he would accompany his disciples to Galilee after his death and resurrection (Mk 14:27) predates Mark. Nevertheless, the disciples' actions suggest that they were unaware of any such prediction, which is therefore likely to have been a 'prophecy after the event'