Sunday, November 13, 2011

John Dominic Crossan on Jesus' Death

"Jesus’ death by crucifixion under Pontius Pilate is as sure as anything historical can ever be. For if no follower of Jesus had written anything for one hundred years after his crucifixition, we would still know about him from two authors not among his supporters. Their names are Flavius Josephus and Cornelius Tacitus."

- John Dominic Crossan
Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, p. 145
[HT:Eric]

11 comments :

Neil Shenvi said...

Brian,
Can you think of any quotes where Crossan clearly states his religious beliefs? I think he's said pretty definitively that he's an atheist, and this fact would lend credibility to his statement in the eues of other atheists.
-Neil

Ex N1hilo said...

Neil,

I hope you don't mine me entering into the conversation.

Crossan is one of the founders of "The Jesus Seminar" and a former Roman Catholic priest who left the priesthood in order to marry. I do not believe he is an atheist but would be considered more of a "liberal Christian."

I listened to a debate he did with James White a few years ago. There was no mention of his being atheist or agnostic.

BTW, although Crossan accepts the historicity of the crucifixion (And really, only the irrationally skeptical and Muslims deny it.); he rejects the resurrection and claims that Jesus' body was eaten by dogs!

kilo papa said...

"only the irrationally skeptical and Muslims deny it'

Bwahahahahahahahahah1!!!
That's quite a knee slapper!!!

Because none of the superstitious, ignorant, mostly uneducated and illiterate, pre scientific mammals trotting around the ancient Middle East would believe anything unless they had some absolutely astonishing objective proof of it's truth, right!!?

Brian Auten said...

Thanks for your comment, kilo papa.
At least this time it wasn't laced with obscenities.

Jason Engwer said...

One way to judge how much kilo papa is actually interested in things like rationality and evidence is by looking at how much rationality and evidence you find in his posts.

Jason Engwer said...

In a debate with William Lane Craig, Crossan said that God probably didn't exist before humans existed (Paul Copan, ed., Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up? [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1998], pp. 49-51). In other words, God is something like a figment of the human imagination.

Neil Shenvi said...

Ex N1hilo,
Yes, I know a bit about Crossan's work and his stance of the Resurrection. But I think that his religious beliefs would put him well outside of what even the most charitable person would call the 'liberal Christian' camp. Unfortunately, I suspect that an atheist would look at his participation in the Jesus Seminar as evidence that he has some kind of pro-biblical agenda which I think you'll agree is silly. His unequivocal statements about the crucifixion are all the more powerful being given by someone who rejects all of the central tenets of theism, let alone the Christian faith. Incidentally, I had an email correspondent just a few months ago questioning whether Jesus actually died on the cross. So finding statements like these made by scholars who demonstrably have no pro-Christian bias is quite important.

Jason, thanks! That's the kind of statement I was looking for. Do you have an exact quote?

Ex N1hilo said...

Jason,

Thanks for the info. I stand corrected.

Neil,

I have also spoken with folks who are skeptical about the crucifixion. I think this is because they have some sort of bias or agenda that dictates how they view it. Pretty much any reasonable person who has considered the evidence is going to conclude that Jesus was crucified as his followers claimed.

Personally, I wouldn't appeal to someone who denies the resurrection or any activity of God in history as any kind of authority or person whose opinion on the matter should be taken very seriously in the matter of the crucifixion, because he is coming in with the bias that says, "Ok, there's nothing supernatural about it, and the evidence seems to be in order, so I can affirm the crucifixion."

This would tend; I think, to affirm the doubter's naturalistic assumptions. Just my 2 cents. YMMV.

Jason Engwer said...

Neil Shenvi,

The back-and-forth between Craig and Crossan on this topic covers a few pages. Here's the most relevant part:

"[Craig asks:] Was there a being who was the Creator and Sustainer of the universe during that period of time when no human beings existed?...[Crossan answers:] Well, I would probably prefer to say no because what you're doing is trying to put yourself in the position of God and ask, 'How is God apart from revelation? How is God apart from faith?'" (ibid., p. 51)

Dean Olson said...

Crossan's exegetical work, specifically in the synoptic gospels, helps a person make a distinction between the life and teachings of Jesus and what the church made of all this. He does extensive work on unpacking what the Kingdom of God means, since he says it is the central message and ministry of Jesus. While the church has made the messenger the message and focused on his death and resurrection. These move in two different directions, one stays centered in the here and now, in the present, the other goes off into the future and makes statements about what comes after we die. Both have a different take on God and how God acts in all this, for Crossan continually points out that all that Jesus did and side comes from his experience with God.

Dean Olson said...

Crossan's exegetical work, specifically in the synoptic gospels, helps a person make a distinction between the life and teachings of Jesus and what the church made of all this. He does extensive work on unpacking what the Kingdom of God means, since he says it is the central message and ministry of Jesus. While the church has made the messenger the message and focused on his death and resurrection. These move in two different directions, one stays centered in the here and now, in the present, the other goes off into the future and makes statements about what comes after we die. Both have a different take on God and how God acts in all this, for Crossan continually points out that all that Jesus did and side comes from his experience with God.

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