The Jesus Seminar's search for the authentic sayings of Jesus: An examination of phase one of the seminar's quest for the historical Jesus
Nelson, Randy Wayne
Kelber, Werner H.
Doctor of Philosophy thesis
During a six year period the Jesus Seminar evaluated 1,544 versions of 518 different sayings. The goal was to determine the authenticity of these sayings according to various degrees of historical reliability. The results constitute Phase One of the Seminar's efforts, and have since been published as The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus (1993). Although the Jesus Seminar has undertaken three more Phases, the purpose of this paper is to examine and evaluate only the first Phase. Part One, "Evaluating the Jesus Seminar's Work in Phase One," consists of two chapters. Chapter 1, "Phase One of the Jesus Seminar's Work," considers the beginnings of the Jesus Seminar, the two goals for Phase One, four motivations, methodologies, and the voting outcomes of the semiannual meetings. Chapter 2, "The Jesus Seminar and Its Critics," surveys the many objections that have been raised about the Seminar's work. In particular, scholars have challenged the Seminar's assumptions, methodologies, and results. Part Two, "Evaluating the Jesus Seminar's Quest for the Historical Jesus," likewise consists of two chapters. In chapter 3, "The Jesus Seminar and the Tradition of Quests," the various quests for the historical Jesus are surveyed, specifically, the Old Quest, the New Quest, and the Third Quest. The Jesus Seminar's quest finds its closest analogy in the Old Quest for the historical Jesus. Chapter 4, "A Modest Proposal for a Limited Quest," proposes a quest for the historical Jesus, albeit a limited quest. The limitation to the quest is largely due to the methodology employed, namely, historical criticism. In this chapter, the three steps of this method, i.e., research, synthesis, and implications, are delineated and evaluated for contributions and limitations.
Religion; Biblical studies