Three stages

From the point of view of faith in the gospel, in my struggle against the teachings of my parents I went through three stages. In my childhood and adolescence I did not know that the gospels were highly problematic texts; in my twenties I discovered that they were problematic but, somehow, I was stuck in…

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The fallibility of the Gospels (8)

A chapter from Ian Wilson’s Jesus: The Evidence While some elements in the gospels are clumsily handled and suggest that their authors were far removed in time and distance from the events they are describing, others have a strikingly original and authentic ring. In some instances it is as if a second generation has heavily…

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The fallibility of the Gospels (7)

A chapter from Ian Wilson’s Jesus: The Evidence Surprisingly, despite having been dismissed by the Germans as very late and very Greek, the gospel which would seem, in part at least, to have the most authentically Aramaic flavour of all is that of John. The first shock to the nineteenth-century Germans, with their dismissive attitude…

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The fallibility of the Gospels (6)

A chapter from Ian Wilson’s Jesus: The Evidence Bultmann died in 1976, at the age of ninety-two. A whole generation of modern New Testament scholars, among them his Marburg successor Werner Kiimmel, Bristol University’s Dennis Nineham, Harvard University’s Helmut Koester, and others, acknowledge an immense debt to him for introducing a whole new school of…

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The fallibility of the Gospels (5)

A chapter from Ian Wilson’s Jesus: The Evidence If all these new discoveries seemed damaging enough, within two decades on to the scene at Germany’s Marburg University stepped Rudolf Bultmann (pic), acknowledged by many as this century’s greatest New Testament theologian, bringing with him a new and yet more devastating weapon, Formgeschichte or ‘form criticism’.…

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The fallibility of the Gospels (4)

A chapter from Ian Wilson’s Jesus: The Evidence In turn the John gospel came under similar scrutiny. The long speeches in fluent Greek attributed to Jesus were considered by German theologians to be Hellenistic in character, compatible with the gospel’s traditional provenance, the Hellenistic city of Ephesus in Asia Minor. Since even Church tradition acknowledged…

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The fallibility of the Gospels (3)

A chapter from Ian Wilson’s Jesus: The Evidence But the incursion into theology of the increasingly scientific outlook of the age was not to be checked so easily, particularly among Protestants. Under the professorship of the redoubtable Ferdinand Christian Baur, a prodigiously productive theologian who was at his desk by four o’clock each morning, Tübingen…

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The fallibility of the Gospels (2)

A chapter from Ian Wilson’s Jesus: The Evidence This method is useful for showing up which episodes are common to all gospels, which are peculiar to a single gospel, the variations of interest or emphasis between one writer and another, and so on. It is immediately obvious that while Matthew, Mark and Luke have a…

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The fallibility of the Gospels (1)

A chapter from Ian Wilson’s Jesus: The Evidence It is perhaps a reflection of today’s emphasis on a Jesus of faith that most modern Christians, practising and non-practising, are quite unaware of the sort of conflicts that have riven the world of gospel studies during the last century or so. Few realize, for instance, that…

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