Master of the Historical Jesus
By Michael Barth
The Master of the Historical Jesus course is a really intriguing course. This course goes through the process of how we know Jesus existed and how we know what he said. It also explains the different time periods (quests) involved with this process.
This course starts off by looking at other sources including the Gospels to find out what Jesus really said and did during his life here on Earth. This course uses the Gospel, pagan sources, Jewish sources, and other miscellaneous sources. This course does rely heavily on the canonical Gospels since there is little in the way of other sources such as pagan sources and Jewish sources. This course also gives a brief description on each of the synoptic Gospels in lesson 1. It is important that these descriptions appear because this course does deal with the Q (German for Quelle) document. Lesson 1 also deals with the Messianic Secret.
This course also puts Jesus into context meaning that this course looks at how Jesus lived in the first century A.D. This is one way to look at how Jesus might have been influenced. Some things that are looked at are the languages he spoke such as Hebrew, Aramaic, and some Greek. The looked briefly into how Jesus was probably a disciple of John the Baptist who was the forerunner to Jesus. Also, you get a glimpse of the different sections of first century Palestine such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Essenes because Jesus was probably an Essene.
There are five different historical quests that look into the Historical Jesus or as the course says Jesus Studies. The five different historical quests are the pre-quest (before 1778), the old quest (1778 to 1906), the no quest (1906 to 1953), the second quest (1953 to 1985), and the third quest (1985 to current). These quests used historical search criteria in relation to Jesus. The historical search criteria are criterion of independent attestation, criterion of dissimilarity, criterion of coherence, and criterion of language and environment.
The different quest looks at things during that happened during the time period too. The pre-quest looks the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment. In the Old Quest, Hermann Samuel Reimarus' life is looked at how he contributed to the Old Quest. The No Quest time period looks at Albert Schweitzer's "In Quest of the Historical Jesus" and how Rudolf Bultmann postulated that the Gospels need to be "demythologized" to get the "existential meaning". The Second quest was a call for a new in-depth historical look into Jesus. The Third quest extended the method used in the second quest and used "Q" (Quelle) and "Thomas" as a main concentration.
This course also uses texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi Library, and the Quelle "Q" Document. Also, the author will take you through a look of first century Palestine. Different parables and sayings from Jesus are used in the later half of this course.
This course was one of the tougher courses that the ULC Seminary offers. While challenging, it was worth the effort. The author gives you good background knowledge on how people explore the Historical Jesus. The author seems really knowledgeable about this subject. The time you put into this course is worthwhile. I do recommend this course for any ULC Minister.
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