This article takes a different look at the work of Burton Mack on apocalypticism and the post-historical Jesus crystallisation of the Christian ‘myth of innocence’ in terms of the social history of scholarship. After a critical assessment of previous receptions of Mack’s work from the era of the ‘Jesus wars’, there is a discussion of Mack’s place in broader cross-disciplinary tendencies in the study of apocalypticism with reference to the influence of liberal and Marxist approaches generally and those of Norman Cohn and Eric Hobsbawm specifically. Mack’s approach to apocalypticism should be seen as a thoroughgoing updating of Cold War liberal constructions of apocalypticism for an era of American ‘culture wars’, from Reagan to Trump. Part of this updating has also meant that, while much of his work against the apocalyptic Christian myth of innocence has been explicitly aimed at the de-legitimising the Right, it also continues the old Cold War intellectual battles by implicitly de-legitimising anything deemed excessively Marxist.
This essay provides a comparison between the historical Jesus and the medieval English priest, John Ball. This heuristic comparison focuses on the ways in which their socioeconomic contexts are important for understanding the ideas of both apocalyptic (or millenarian) prophets. Particular attention is given to the idea of their shared apocalypticism as a “pre-political” phenomenon in order to avoid the anachronistic and romantic interpretations both have received (especially as supposed “egalitarians”) and to locate the study of apocalypticism in broader discussions of materialism and historical change. This does not mean, however, that both Jesus and Ball avoided providing hard socioeconomic critique of their respective societies or that they tell us little about the stark socioeconomic inequalities of their time. On the contrary, both use the language of apocalypticism as a vehicle for popular protest and agitation. While the teaching of both may be fantastical to modern audiences, both show they are acutely aware of the strength of the power structures of their times.
This article points out that lives of Jesus have been dominated by individualism, fact-finding, exegesis and description. This stands in contrast to the ways in which historical reconstruction has been practised in other disciplines in the humanities and in contrast to the ways in which some biographers and historians see the role of the individual in historical change. Even when there have been attempts to use the social sciences in historical Jesus studies, if the result is not merely descriptive and exegetical, then the reception of such approaches in scholarship still tends to focus on the individual reconstructed rather than on potential methodological developments relating to historical change. This article will suggest ways in which the individual and descriptive emphases can be complemented by wider ranging socio-historical reconstructions designed to explain historical change, or, more generally, how we get from Jesus to Christian origins.
It is thought that repentance in the teaching of John the Baptist and Jesus is grounded in the Semitic teshubahconcept. The problem with this is that the LXX largely uses έπιστρέφω for / whereas the gospels use μεταυοέω which usually translates . This problem can be solved. meaning repentance is not attested in key documents. In contrast, words for repentance associated with / are massively attested and it is probable that this was the language used by John and Jesus.μεταυοέω and μετάυοιε are found in the gospels because they are words which can be used for the conversion of gentiles. This was important because / and έπιστρέφω are frequently used with reference to Jews returning to God.
Wright's recent book on the resurrection is the most important defence of the historical accuracy of the empty tomb and the bodily resurrection. However, his arguments do not stand up to close scrutiny. Sufficient attention is not paid to the importance of Jewish and pagan legendary traditions concerning great figures of the past. Unlike non-Christian traditions, the Gospel narratives are never treated with any decree of scepticism (not even Mt. 27.52-53) which is a dubious practice for a historian. The earliest evidence for the empty tomb has no genuine eyewitness support (in contrast to the resurrection appearances) and Mk 16.8 suggests that the story was not well known. The first resurrection appearances are more likely to be visionary experiences interpreted as a bodily raised figure, which meant that the early accounts of Paul and Mark could assume an empty tomb even if historically this was not the case.
1976-1994 marks a distinctive period in Mancunian popular music history. During this period, biblical language was used extensively. However, such use is markedly different at the beginning and end of our period. At the beginning, biblical language was used in the name of dark introspection, cynical observation, nihilism and pessimism; by the end, such language was largely being used in the name of self-congratulation, self-importance, hedonism, and (largely misguided) optimism. Social, cultural, economic and biographical reasons are given for this shift.
This essay takes an appreciative look at the influence of E. P. Sanders’s work on Jesus, Judaism and the Law and attempts to develop some of Sanders-style critique of scholarship to his ongoing influence. Particular attention is paid to Mt. 8.21–22/Lk. 9.59–60, Mk 2.23-28, and Mk 7.1-23. This article analyzes N. T. Wright’s domestication of Sanders’ criticism of anti-Jewish tendencies in scholarship, particularly where Wright uses Sanders to perpetuate the old myth of superiority over Judaism. This article also looks at how the influence of Hengel and Bultmann could continue through the credible endorsement of Sanders. Further consideration is given to the problematic notion of ‘conflict’ in the Gospel tradition.