The challenge of non-existence: rejecting the historicity of Jesus from the seventeenth century to the twenty-first
According to a recent poll, 40% of the British population do not believe that Jesus was a historical figure. And yet, Samuel Byrskog has claimed, no one in 'the guild of biblical scholars' denies his existence. If this is the case, how are we to make sense of this considerable disconnect between public opinion and professional judgement in the field? What does it tell us, not just about the wider, cultural reception of what we do, but also the failings of members of the 'guild' to function as trusted public intellectuals, informing and shaping contemporary discourse about the figure of Jesus? This paper will scrutinise the historiography of debates about Jesus' historicity since the seventeenth century, both popular and scholarly, and seek to identify recurring tropes that may help us to understand the predicament that historical Jesus scholars face today, and how they might respond to the growth of a pressing and defining debate.
Response: Helen Bond (University of Edinburgh)
Jesus and the kingdom of God in constitutional perspective
The aim of the paper would be to go beyond the question of ‘Jesus and politics’ to the broader (and potentially more fruitful) question of whether Jesus’ mission and ministry had implications for the better government of the nation. Aspects worthy of attention in this regard will be:
- Jesus’ teaching of the coming of the kingdom of God;
- the appointment of the twelve;
- controversies over Torah interpretation;
- the confrontation with the authorities in Jerusalem;
- acclamations (and crucifixion) of Jesus as a king.