I’ve blogged Aaron’s Part 1, but here is 2-4 for your pleasure:
What value does this chapter provide? It doesn’t argue for or against any given position about the evidence for or about Jesus. However, what it should do is provide the grounds for some metacognition for us to think about how we think about Jesus, Christianity, history, and the theologies it provides (the latter isn’t a problem for me, but it is for about 2 billion other people). We need to realize what are the sacred cows to us, just as a historical Adam and Eve are to some today and a David and Solomon are to others still. It has been the best part of the so-called minimalist school to try and avoid having the blinders of Bible-tinted glasses (to abuse a term Early Doherty has used) when looking at the evidence. Biblical archaeology was said to have been done with a spade in one hand and a Bible in the other. How much does that reflect modern NT research? Perhaps more than we realize. And it’s because many don’t realize it that we need the metacognitive exercises that Niels is providing. Otherwise we just won’t get past our own dogmas.
The chapters of interest today are the introduction to minimalism by Jim West, the socio-political environment of 19th century Germany and how it influenced early “radical” criticism of the Bible as told by Roland Boer, references to Jesus outside the NT from Lester Grabbe, how to investigate earliest Christianity without considering the nature or existence of the historical Jesus with K. L. Noll.
Now I want to look at the last few chapters left in the volume by Thomas L. Thompson, Ingrid Hjelm, and Joshua Sabih.
Let’s start with Thompson, both author of a chapter, editor of the volume, and probably one of the most famous names in the minimalist school of the Old Testament (and now the New). Previously he wrote The Messiah Myth, arguing that the stories about Jesus are pretty much standardized tropes time-worn in the Ancient Near East (ANE). And here Thompson continues that trend.
Do read them all.