Jesus at the Crossroads of Inference and Imagination

The Relevance of R.G. Collingwood’s Philosophy of History for Current Methodological Discussions in Historical Jesus Research

in Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
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A significant re-evaluation of the historiographical methods and approaches used in historical Jesus research has been underway in recent years. Some scholars have begun to look to social memory theory for a way forward. Although social memory theory provides some valuable insights, a solid methodological foundation is still lacking. The intention of this article is to advance the discussion by drawing attention to R.G. Collingwood’s contributions to the philosophy of history and historiography in The Idea of History (1946). In particular, I will discuss his historiographical principles of inference, evidence, question and answer, historical imagination, along with his critique of ‘scissors-and-paste’. These principles have the potential to form the foundation of a theoretically grounded historiographical practice in Jesus research.

Jesus at the Crossroads of Inference and Imagination

The Relevance of R.G. Collingwood’s Philosophy of History for Current Methodological Discussions in Historical Jesus Research

in Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus

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References

  • 3

     E.g. Morna Hooker‘On Using the Wrong Tool’Theology 75 (1972) pp. 570–81; D.G.A. Calvert ‘An Examination of the Criteria for Distinguishing the Authentic Words of Jesus’ New Testament Studies 18 (1972) pp. 209–218.

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  • 4

     E.g. Anthony Le DonneThe Historiographical Jesus: Memory Typology and the Son of David (Waco: Baylor University Press2005); Rafael Rodríguez Structuring Early Christian Memory: Jesus in Tradition Performance and Text (lnts 407; London and New York: T&T Clark International 2010); Dale C. Allison Jr. Constructing Jesus: Memory Imagination and History (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic 2010); Chris Keith Jesus’ Literacy: Scribal Culture and the Teacher from Galilee (lnts 413; London and New York: T&T Clark 2011); Chris Keith Jesus Against the Scribal Elite (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic 2014); Jens Schröter From Jesus to the New Testament: Early Christian Theology and the Origin of the New Testament Canon (trans. Wayne Coppins; Waco: Baylor 2013).

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  • 5

    KeithJesus’ Literacy pp. 61–70; cf. Keith Scribal Elite pp. 69–84.

  • 6

     See e.g. KeithJesus’ Literacy pp. 54–55; Alan Kirk ‘Social and Cultural Memory’ in Alan Kirk and Tom Thatcher (eds.) Memory Tradition and Text: Uses of the Past in Early Christianity (Semeia 52; Atlanta:Society of Biblical Literature 2005) pp. 20–21; Le Donne Historiographical Jesus p. 42; Allison Constructing Jesus p. 4.

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  • 7

     Cf. KeithJesus’ Literacy p. 61.

  • 8

    KeithScribal Elite p. 81.

  • 11

     See van der DussenHistory as a Science p. ix. See also Hayden White’s favourable treatment of Collingwood in Hayden White Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins 1978) pp. 59–62.

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  • 13

    Compare E.H. CarrWhat is History? (ed. R.W. Davies; London: Penguin Books, 2nd edn1987) pp. 10–12 26–29; G.E. Elton The Practice of History (Oxford: Blackwell 2nd edn 2001 [1967]) esp. pp. 52–60; Richard J. Evans In Defense of History (London: Granta new edn 2001 [1997]) esp. pp. 224–53.

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  • 14

     E.g. CollingwoodIdea of History pp. 244–45 274–75.

  • 15

     See Stein HelgebyAction as History: The Historical Thought of R. G. Collingwood (Exeter: Imprint Academic2004) pp. 159–60.

  • 16

    van der DussenHistory as a Science p. ix; Helgeby Action as History pp. 159–60. See also Marnie Hughes-Warrington Fifty Key Thinkers on History (Oxon: Routledge 2nd edn 2008) pp. 42–43.

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  • 17

    Van der DussenHistory as a Science p. ix.

  • 19

    Rudolf BultmannHistory and Eschatology: The Presence of Eternity (New York: Harper1957) pp. 122–47. On Collingwood and the ‘New Quest’ see Paul Merkley ‘New Quests for Old: One Historian’s Observations on a Bad Bargain’ Canadian Journal of Theology 16.3 (1970) pp. 203–218; Van A. Harvey The Historian and the Believer: The Morality of Historical Knowledge and Christian Belief (Urbana: University of Illinois Press 1996 [1966]) e.g. p. 170; John MacQuarrie The Scope of Demythologizing: Bultmann and his Critics (London: scm Press 1960) pp. 8–86; James M. Robinson A New Quest of the Historical Jesus (Minneapolis: Fortress Press 1983 [1959]) pp. 71–72 155.

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  • 21

    MeyerCritical Realism and the New Testament p. 148.

  • 22

     See CollingwoodIdea of History pp. 282–302.

  • 24

     For example Peter JohnsonCollingwood’s The Idea of History: A Reader’s Guide (Continuum Reader’s Guides; London and New York: Bloomsbury2013) p. 54; van der Dussen History as a Science p. 263; Alan Donagan ‘The Verification of Historical Theses’ Philosophical Quarterly 6 (1956) p. 207; Hopkins ‘Bultmann on Collingwood’s Philosophy of History’.

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  • 25

    Donagan‘Historical Theses’ p. 207.

  • 26

     E.g. Bernard LonerganMethod in Theology (Toronto: University of Toronto Press2007) pp. 263–64.

  • 27

    JohnsonCollingwood’s The Idea of History p. 54.

  • 28

    LonerganMethod in Theology pp. 175–234.

  • 29

    LonerganMethod in Theology p. 206 emphasis my own.

  • 31

    BultmannHistory and Eschatology pp. 130–31.

  • 33

    Hopkins‘Bultmann on Collingwood’s Philosophy of History’ pp. 227–33; Merkley ‘New Quests for Old’; Meyer Critical Realism and the New Testament pp. 148–50; van der Dussen History as a Science pp. 82–83.

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  • 34

    MeyerCritical Realism and the New Testament p. 150.

  • 36

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 275.

  • 37

    CollingwoodIdea of History pp. 256–57. For application see pp. 266–82.

  • 38

    Richard BauckhamJesus and the Eyewitnesses (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans2006) pp. 483–87. Similarly see C. Stephen Evans The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith: The Incarnational Narrative as History (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996) p. 192.

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  • 39

     See especially BauckhamJesus and the Eyewitnesses p. 486.

  • 40

    BauckhamJesus and the Eyewitnesses p. 485.

  • 41

    BauckhamJesus and the Eyewitnesses p. 485.

  • 43

     See CollingwoodIdea of History pp. 274–76.

  • 44

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 259.

  • 45

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 138.

  • 47

    BauckhamJesus and the Eyewitnesses p. 485.

  • 48

    Van der DussenHistory as a Science p. 271.

  • 49

    Van der DussenHistory as a Science p. 271.

  • 50

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 138.

  • 52

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 138.

  • 53

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 257.

  • 54

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 259.

  • 56

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 261.

  • 57

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 275.

  • 59

    In agreement with CollingwoodIdea of History p. 252.

  • 61

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 251.

  • 62

     See also SheppardThe Craft of History pp. 70–71.

  • 63

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 252.

  • 64

    In agreement with JohnsonCollingwood’s The Idea of History p. 45.

  • 65

     See CollingwoodIdea of History p. 237.

  • 66

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 238.

  • 67

    In agreement with JohnsonCollingwood’s The Idea of History p. 45.

  • 68

    CollingwoodIdea of History pp. 366–67; cf. 252–53; 486–88.

  • 69

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 246.

  • 70

     See e.g. SheppardThe Craft of History pp. 15–16. On interpretation as the formal task of history see Collingwood Idea of History pp. 368–70.

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  • 71

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 281.

  • 72

     See JohnsonCollingwood’s The Idea of History p. 71.

  • 73

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 247.

  • 74

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 281.

  • 75

     See CollingwoodIdea of History p. 386.

  • 77

     See van der DussenHistory as a Science pp. 268–71.

  • 82

     See CollingwoodIdea of History pp. 249–52.

  • 86

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 278; Lonergan Method in Theology p. 187; Johnson Collingwood’s The Idea of History p. 82.

  • 88

    Louis O. MinkMind History and Dialect: The Philosophy of R.G. Collingwood (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press1969) p. 131; van der Dussen History as a Science pp. 274–75. Mink rightly observes that it is not actually a theory of logic. Rather it is a hermeneutics which supplements but does not replace formal logic.

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  • 92

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 240.

  • 93

    CollingwoodIdea of History pp. 231–49.

  • 94

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 241.

  • 95

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 241.

  • 100

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 256; R.G. Collingwood The Principles of History and Other Writings in Philosophy of History (ed. W.H. Dray and Jan van der Dussen; Oxford: Oxford University Press 1999) p. 150.

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  • 101

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 282.

  • 102

    CollingwoodIdea of History pp. 242–43.

  • 103

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 245.

  • 104

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 244.

  • 105

    CollingwoodIdea of History p. 245.

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