stories and sayings of Jesus. Instead of trying to determine whether ‘Jesus said this or did that,’ Allison wants us to focus on whether ‘Jesus did things like this, [or] said things like that.’
Allison’s approach, which he calls ‘recurrentattestation,’ is both intriguing and compelling. Scot
Allison’s method begins with the argument that we ‘should heed before all else the general impressions that our primary sources produce. We should trust first, if we are to trust at all, what is most likely to be trustworthy. This requires that we begin, although we need not end
part, a unified, coherent discourse and (b) it probably derives from something like a stock sermon of Jesus. Now, according to Rodríguez, in undertaking this argument, I depart ‘from the procedure of recurrentattestation’, and the historical argument in this chapter fails to employ ‘the logic of
certitude that cannot be had with regard to any of these individual traditions. Instead Allison proposes that one should begin with the general impressions made by the Gospel portraits of Jesus, with the topics and motifs for which there is ‘recurrentattestation’. For example, the notion of Jesus as an
takes recourse in a criterion that he believes has been latent but unspecified in Jesus studies: ‘recurrentattestation’, he calls it—an assumption that the tradents’ most accurate memories of Jesus will be found, not in the specific wording of what he is alleged to have said or done, but in the
memory since the nineteenth century.
Does this mean we have reached the ‘end’ of the quest? Not necessarily. It does mean, however, that we need a new way forward. In Constructing Jesus , Allison provides one.
RecurrentAttestation and the Reliability of ‘Gist’ Memory
Because of the
“may very well have been among the religious legal reasons offered” for Jesus’s execution, “but none of the parallels … states that blasphemy was involved .” 30 Arguing on the basis of what is essentially recurrentattestation (without naming it as such), if the Gospels’ consistent portrayal of Jesus
approach is indebted to C. H. Dodd’s tactic in History and the Gospel 13 —it is essentially the same—and further that use of what I called “recurrentattestation” appears otherwise in the critical literature. I cited as illustration sentences from other scholars: 14
David Aune: “While it may be
should be separated and two distinct criteria formed: multiple attestation and recurrentattestation. 158 For Holmén, multiple attestation applies directly to sources (plural) in which a tradition or motif is found. A theme or motif, on the other hand, recurring throughout the tradition stipulates a