The Christian Post reports on a new effort to study the historical Jesus, known as the Jesus Project. Since I don’t always trust the objectivity of the Christian Post (or anyone else including myself, for that matter), I looked for additional information.
According to both that source (and others):
. . . Dr. R. Joseph Hoffmann, chair of the Project and the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, said that the “The Jesus Seminar had difficulty separating itself from the faith commitments of its members. Its agenda was not exclusively, but in large measure theologically driven. Its conclusions and methods raised more questions than they answered.”
Many people questioned whether the members of the Jesus Seminar actually had faith commitments, though I know personally that many did and do. Nonetheless, the Seminar remains a relatively radical consensus when the whole of historical Jesus scholarship is examined.
Simply from the list of names, this looks pretty radical in nature, and the sponsorship is largely skeptical. I have no problem with such a project, though I think that any relatively narrow inquiry is going to, to paraphrase Dr. Hoffmann, “. . .raise more questions than it answers.”
Note the following as well:
During the closing conference round-table, Tabor was quick to emphasize that “the Jesus Project repudiates any theological agendas, special pleading, or dogmatic presuppositions.” All members of the project share a common commitment to the importance of applying scientific methodologies to the sources used to construct the Jesus tradition.
[found in both sources cited]
I personally am very skeptical of the possibility of repudiating “all theological agendas, special pleading, or dogmatic presuppositions.” In fact, the very claim generates more questions than answers in my case.
I wish any scholarly group that studies the historical Jesus well, but I’m not setting my expectations very high for this one.