Jesus and His World: An Archaeological and Cultural Dictionary

By John J. Rousseau; Rami Arav | Go to book overview

Introduction

The Quest of the Historical Jesus

The fewer data, the more theories!

The early biblical texts pertaining to Jesus, his life, teaching, and death represent only some 150 pages. But in the two millennia that followed his crucifixion, millions of pages have been written about him, in ancient and modern languages, by thousands of theologians, scholars, and other writers. In the last two centuries, under the influence of eighteenth-century critical rationalism that began with the publication of Hermann Samuel Reimarus’s work, Jesus research increasingly came to be detached from faith. It gained momentum and spread throughout the Western world. After much activity that led to meager results, scholars became discouraged:

There is nothing more negative than the results of
the critical study of the life of Jesus.1

No one is any longer in a position to write a life of
Jesus.… In truth, this state of affairs has deeper
causes and compels us to affirm the futility of any
renewed attempt at Lives of Jesus now and in the
future.2

Yet a renewed quest followed the publication of Bornkamm’s challenge. Perhaps it will not produce a biography of Jesus, but it can retrieve the core of his most probable sayings and deeds. In 1957, James M. Robinson delivered an address at Oxford on “The Four Gospels in 1957.” It was entitled “The Kerygma and the Quest of the Historical Jesus,” and developed into a book, A New Quest of the Historical Jesus, in which Robinson, carrying further the position of Rudolf Bultmann in Jesus and the World (1926), expanded on the possibility, legitimacy, and procedure of the new quest. Subsequently, since the mid-1960s a resurgence of interest in Jesus studies began among scholars and clergy. In the United States, this interest led to the creation, in the mid-1980s, of the Historical Jesus Section of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Jesus Seminar of the Westar Institute. The goals and procedures of the latter deserve special explanation.

The Fellows of the Jesus Seminar centered their work on the Greek texts of the canonical Gospels and of the Gospel of Thomas. Their project has been aimed at identifying the “authentic” sayings of Jesus through collective consideration of a set of criteria relating to authenticity. The result of their research is published in Forum and in The Five Gospels.3 After presentation, discussion and vote, the sayings attributed to Jesus were rated as follows:

-1-

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Jesus and His World: An Archaeological and Cultural Dictionary
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Map of Palestine Key v
  • Title Page ix
  • Contents xi
  • Foreword a Down-to-Earth Jesus xiii
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • List of Abbreviations xx
  • List of Figures xxi
  • List of Tables xxiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Aenon and Salim 7
  • Agriculture, Cereals 8
  • Antonia, Pavement (Gabbatha, Lithostrotos) 12
  • Bethabara/Beth Araba/Bethany 14
  • Bethany 15
  • Bethlehem 16
  • Bethphage 18
  • Bethsaida 19
  • Boats 25
  • Caesarea Maritima 30
  • Caesarea Philippi (Banias) 33
  • Camps, Siege Banks 35
  • Cana 38
  • Capernaum (Capharnaum) [Hebrew, Kfar Nahum] 39
  • Cave of Letters 47
  • Chorazin 52
  • Coins and Money 55
  • Coins as Historical Documents 61
  • Construction, Cities 68
  • Crucifixion 74
  • Dead Sea Scrolls 78
  • Decapolis 85
  • Ephraim 87
  • Exorcism 88
  • Gadara, Kursi 97
  • Galilean Caves 99
  • Gamla, Gamala 100
  • Garden Tomb 104
  • Gennesareth (Hebrew, Ginosar) 109
  • Gethsemane 110
  • Golgotha, Traditional Site 112
  • Gospel of Thomas 118
  • Hebron 123
  • Herodium 124
  • Hippos/Susita 127
  • House 128
  • Jacob’s Well 131
  • Jericho 132
  • Jerusalem, Caiaphas’s House 136
  • Jerusalem, Caiaphas’s Tomb 139
  • Jerusalem, City of David, Ophel 142
  • Jerusalem, Gehenna, Akeldama 145
  • Jerusalem, Herodian 146
  • Jerusalem, Herod’s Palace 151
  • Jerusalem, Kidron 152
  • Jerusalem, Pool of Bethesda 155
  • Jerusalem, Streets and Stairs 161
  • Jerusalem, Tombs 164
  • Jerusalem, Upper City 169
  • Jerusalem, Upper Room 173
  • Jerusalem, Walls and Gates 175
  • Jerusalem, Water System 180
  • Jordan River, Fords 183
  • Judean Caves 185
  • Machaerus (Hebrew, Makhwar) 187
  • Magdala (Hebrew, Migdal; Aramaic, Migdal Nunya; Greek, Taricheae) 189
  • Magic, Miracles 190
  • Masada 195
  • Medicine, Physicians 199
  • Moses’ Seat 203
  • Mount Gerizim 206
  • Mount Hermon 208
  • Mount of Olives 210
  • Mount Tabor 212
  • Nain (Hebrew Naim) 213
  • Nazareth 214
  • Ointments, Perfumes 216
  • Olive Oil Industry 220
  • Pantera’s Tombstone 223
  • Pontius Pilate’s Stone 225
  • Pottery and Glass 227
  • Qumran 233
  • Ritual Baths (Miqvaoth) 236
  • Samaria, Samaritans 240
  • Sea of Galilee (Yam Kinneret) 245
  • Sepphoris (Hebrew, Zippori) 248
  • Shepherding 251
  • Slaves and Servants 253
  • Sodom and Gomorrah 257
  • Son of Man 259
  • Stone, Stoning 263
  • Sychar-Shechem 267
  • Synagogues 268
  • Tannery, Leather 273
  • Tax and Tax Collectors 275
  • Temple, History, Description 279
  • Temple, Royal Stoa 288
  • Temple, Sacrificial System 291
  • Temple, Service and Ritual 296
  • Temple, Solomon’s Portico 303
  • Temple, Stairs and Gates 304
  • Temple, Treasury 309
  • Temple, Trumpeting Place 311
  • Temple, Warning Signs 312
  • Textiles, Dyeing 313
  • Tiberias (Hebrew, Tveria) 316
  • Traditional Healing 318
  • Tunic without Seam, Dice 324
  • Tyre and Sidon 326
  • Viticulture 328
  • Weapons 332
  • Weights and Measures 336
  • Wood, Furniture 339
  • Tables 343
  • Historical Synopsis 357
  • Glossary 361
  • General Bibliography 365
  • Index of Scriptures Cited 369
  • Index of Early Jewish Writings Cited 379
  • Index of Ancient Writers Cited 382
  • Index of Names, Places, and Subjects 385
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