Work in Progress

Baseball, Seminary, Wrestling, and the Dreams and Days of one Mike Work's Angeles experience

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Ben Meyer and his big words

I skimmed Ben Meyer's The Aims of Jesus on Thursday, and found it worthy of more focused attention (as has NT Wright, who draws heavily on Meyer's critical realism in his works). Meyer's historiography and his method are among his lasting contributions to historical Jesus studies, and his work (mediated through Wright and James Dunn) played a pivotal role in getting me out of a phenomenological cul-de-sac two years prior.

Meyer's book focuses upon Jesus' intentions, and he suggests that Jesus did foresee the events leading to his death and intended to charge them with meaning, linked to the restoration of Israel. Within scholarly circles, such a suggestion was seen as off-limits; we had no access into Jesus' self-consciousness, only to the earliest Christian communities, sharply divided from their founding figure on this point. I held this position as recently as 2004, and found my cynicism to be pretty paralyzing; i could call anyone out and criticize them, finding flawed presuppositions in all approaches that actually said anything, but didn't really have anything constructive to offer. Not really a good camp to inhabit. I no longer live there, having found Meyer and his followers to be invaluable guides who present a plausible strategy for understanding Jesus' intentions without attempting to psychoanalyze themselves across the historical divide.

I hadn't read The Aims of Jesus until this week, but found myself nearly weeping with joy while reading his description of Jesus' life; Meyer highlights some of Jesus' really attractive characteristics and life-patterns, which connect closely to my hopes for the church. Good stuff.

One laugh-out-loud moment that accompanied my reading: had to go to the dictionary twice, once for 'plenipotentiary,' and the second time for 'pellucid.' The meaning of the latter word? Easy to understand.


Post a Comment

<< Home