2012 Jesus

Session 1

Brendon Witte (University of Edinburgh)

A Prophet with Nowhere to Lay his Head (Matthew 8.18-20)

In spite of the fact that 8.20 contains the first occurrence of ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου in Matthew, a particularly important observation for those undertaking an analysis of the idiom, this portion of the pericope is frequently overlooked or inadequately handled by modern authors, even in those works that take up the task of examining Matthew’s use of the designation ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. It is the objective of this paper to analyze the dialogue between Jesus and the man keen on becoming a disciple in Matthew (Mt 8.19-20//Lk 9.57-58), questioning what aspect of the man’s proclamation Jesus is challenging—his loyalty to the mission of spreading the word of the kingdom, his hubristic attitude, his self-serving motives, or his inadequate understanding of the mission and nature of Jesus. To anticipate the results of this study, the case will be made for reading Jesus’ aphoristic response as indicative of his prophetic role and authority. Jesus is not only a teacher of the ‘weightier matters’ of the Law, he is portrayed throughout the Matthean narrative as an itinerant prophet like Elijah and Jonah who calls individuals to join him in his commissioning and is unwilling to accept those who have not been called or have placed the cares of the world above the cares of the kingdom.

The Role of Revelatory Experience in the Four Gospels for Engendering Belief in Jesus

The following paper examines the way revelatory experiences in each of the canonical Gospels do or do not to engender belief in Jesus. Revelatory experience is divine disclosure by visionary or auditory means (Bockmuehl, Revelation and Mystery, 2). Thus, any event in which characters hear a voice or see a vision from heaven is a “revelatory experience.” Scholars have noted the power of revelatory experience to “drive and shape” the veneration of Jesus in early Christian devotional practices. Hurtado notes the “demonstrable efficacy of such experiences in generating significant innovations in various religious traditions” (Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, 65). However, one wonders what “faith-producing” role revelatory experiences actually have in the Gospels. If earliest Christian communities were so “shaped” by these experiences, one would expect them to have similar force in the Gospel narratives.

The Synoptic Gospels include revelatory experiences as a distinguishing feature of their accounts, with the baptism and transfiguration being two of the most commented-on passages of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. However, such revelatory events are curiously rare in John prior to Jesus’ resurrection and only after chapter 20 are these events more prominent. This paper will analyze the roles of revelatory experiences in each Gospel for producing belief in Jesus. Therefore, this research focuses primarily on the responses of characters in the narratives to the revelatory events they witness. Where the audience or its response is ambiguous, this will be taken into account. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the way audiences in the four Gospels are or are not “shaped” by such revelatory experiences and what implications these findings may have for the interpretation of each Gospel.

Session 2

Larry Hurtado
Justin Meggitt
Catrin Williams
Dagmar Winter
Michael Zolondek

Panel Discussion: Assessing the State of the Quest for the Historical Jesus

Session 3

Markus Bockmuehl (University of Oxford)

The Presence of the Living Jesus in the Century after His Death

Dead or alive? Absent or present? These are among the most crucial questions for the ongoing significance of Jesus in the decades after his death. All known early Christian groups believed he was resurrected after his crucifixion; for the NT, the Creeds and most intervening writers this entailed his “bodily” resurrection along with a consensus that he was in some sense exalted into the immediate presence of God. Yet even though emphatically alive, was Jesus himself therefore present or absent to the early Christian believer? In later theologies this tension tends to be deconstructed – whether in Eucharistic-ecclesial, eschatological, pneumatological, mystically or moralizingly experiential ways. Thus Jesus’ absence is sublimated by his presence in the Eucharist or the church, through the Spirit, in (possibly routinized) mystical or visionary experiences, in imperatives of charity or of politics. In this somewhat experimental paper, by contrast, I wish to ask what the early Christian sources affirm about the presence of Jesus as Jesus – and to suggest that the diverse range of answers given by the NT and its earliest effective history is at once richer and less comprehensive than classic or contemporary construals tend to suggest.