Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Quest for the Historical Jesus

My friend Rob sent me his copy of the Spring 2012 issue of The University of Virginia Magazine.  (Rob, a Dartmouth graduate and a Peace Corps alumnus, received his MBA from UVA.  He is a member of the Sunday School Class.)  Rob wanted me to read the article entitled "Jefferson's Secret Bible".  I did, I enjoyed it.  I recommend the article.

The article describes Jefferson’s “Search for the Historical Jesus.”    That search has been an ongoing project in Western Intellectual History. I first became acquainted with the project during the Spring semester of my freshman year at Duke, when I had the privilege of attending Dr. Barney Jones' New Testament class. 

During the course, Dr. Jones introduced us to Albert Schweitzer’s The Quest of the Historical Jesus. The idea of the quest is to strip away the purported fantasy and myth and get to what Jesus really said and did. That is a valid intellectual pursuit, but it begs the question of whether the sort of God exists who would intervene in history through the person of Jesus. If God did so, then absolutely anything is possible! Even the transformation of human beings. (That’s the miracle I seek for my loved ones and me: such a transformation. I believe that is happening. I see some evidence of it.)

God did not gift Jefferson with the gift of faith, at least not in the form that Jefferson apparently would accept in whole cloth. God obviously gifted him with greatness otherwise, however. It may be heretical to say that we will see Jefferson when the Kingdom is fully established, but I expect that we will. 

(Despite what I wrote about Rev. John Shuck, I expect to see him there too.  There have been more views of that post on Kith and Kin than any other.  I'm not sure why.  Rev. Shuck appears to be squarely within the tradition of Jefferson and Schweitzer, which is pretty good company.)

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