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THE HISTORICAL JESUS: SOME OUTSTANDING ISSUES EDWARD SCHILLEBEECKX'S treatment of the historical Jesus is perhaps the best part of his two-volume work on Christology. Here, as nowhere else, he shows himself to have thoroughly mastered the very complicated discussions that have gone on amongst New Testament scholars during the past generation, a mastery all the more remarkable since he is a systematic theologian with an expertise in a field which is not only different, but often on quite a different wavelength from New Testament study. Of course he is not infallible, and he has sometimes backed the wrong horse, as for instance when he follows Theodore Weeden's interpretation of the disciples' role in Mark, or when he reduces resurrection appearances to the level of conversion experiences, thus confounding effect with cause.1 But he has been amply criticized for these misjudgments, and the present contribution will honor him not by a critical review of his work, but by further discussion of some of the issues he has raised. I Jesus and the Kerygma What is the relevance of the historical Jesus to New Testament theology and Christology? There are at least four possible views. At one extreme there is the view that it is at once irrelevant and impossible to "ask hack to" the historical Jesus. It is irreleva.nt because the earliest Christian kerygma is a procla1 See the criticism of R. E. Brown in his review of Schillebeeckx's two volumes in OBQ 42 (1980), 420-21. Brown speaks of Schillebeeckx's "unfortunate fascination for the Perrin-Weeden approach to Mark" (p. 421). 368 TBE HISTORICAL JEStTS: SOME OUTSTANDING ISSUES $69 mation of the resurrected Christ, not of the earthly Jesus, and impossible because we have no traditions which reach back with certainty over the gulf created by the Easter event between the pre- and post-Easter Jesus.2 At the other extreme is the view that the Easter traditions are valueless and that the pre-Easter traditions are not only of great historical value, but are our sole source even for postEaster faith in the resurrected Christ.3 Occupying the middle ground between these two extremes are two other views. One is that while the basis for Christian faith lies in the Christ as preached in the post-Easter kerygma, the pre-Easter Jesus is the essential presupposition and legitimation of the kerygma.4 The other view is that the historical Jesus compromises the fundamental revelation. Yet Easter is necessary to assure the continuance after the death of Jesus of Jesus's initial offer of salvation.5 As a result of Easter, we can say, "Die Sa,che Jesu geht weiter" (W. Marxsen). But Easter does not add anything to the salvation already ofiered in Jesus's lifetime. It merely extends it. 0£ all the views, Schillebeeckx's comes closest to the last mentioned.6 Is he right in his choice? In the present writer's opinion, the last of these views does not square with the earliest kerygma, at least insofar as it is accessible to us in the Pauline epistles and in the kerygmatic speeches of Acts.7 The 2 The classic exposition of this line of thought is W. Schmithals, Das Evangelium naoh Markus (Giitersloh: Mohn, 1979). s This discussion has taken place almost entirely in German. It began with R. Pesch, "Zur Entstehung des Glaubens an die Auferstehung Jesu. Ein Beitrag zur Diskussion," ThQ 153 (1973), 201-228. For a report in English on the discussion see J. P. Galvin, "Resurrection as Theologia Crucis Jesu: The Foundational Christology of Rudolf Pesch," ThSt 38 (1977), 513-25. 4 This is the line followed by the right wing post-Bultmannians. See e.g., F. Hahn, Historioal Investigation and New Testament Faith (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983) . 5 This is the line followed by the left wing post-Bultmannians, see e.g., H. Braun, Jesus (Stuttgart: Kreuz, 1969). 6 Schillebeeckx speaks of Easter as entailing a "renewed offer of salvation in Jesus" (Jesus, 390). 1 The proposal has been made, apparently independently, by R. F. Collins, Introduotion to the New Testament (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983) $70 REGINALD lI. FULLElt Pauline kerygma is focused upon...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 368-382
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-15
Open Access
No
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