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Barbara Thiering

Barbara Elizabeth Thiering (15 November 1930 – 16 November 2015) was an Australian historian, theologian, and Biblical
exegete specialising in the origins of the early Christian Church.[1] In books and journal articles, she challenged Christian orthodoxy,
espousing the view that new findings present alternative answers to its supernatural beliefs. Her analysis has been rejected by both
New Testament scholars and scholars in Judaism.

Academic reception
Selected bibliography
External links

Born in Sydney, Australia, as Barbara Houlsby, she married Barry Thiering in the late 1940s. She graduated in 1952 from the
University of Sydney with First Class Honours in Modern Languages, was a high school teacher of languages for several years, and
then, while caring for her three young children, continued study and research privately
. She obtained an external B.D. degree from the
University of London, a M.Th. degree from Melbourne College of Divinity, and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Sydney in

From her specialty studying the Dead Sea Scrolls, their semiotics, and their hermeneutics, she propounded a theory arguing that the
miracles, including turning water into wine, the virgin birth, healing a man at a distance, the man who had been thirty-eight years at
the pool, and the resurrection, among others, did not actually occur (as miracles), as Christians believe, nor were they legends, as
[2] concealing (yet, to certain initiates, relating) esoteric historic events.
some skeptics hold, but were "deliberately constructed myths"
She alleges that they never actually happened (that is, that the events they chronicle were not at all miraculous), as the authors of the
Gospels knew. According to her interpretation of the methods ofpesher, which she discovers in the scrolls, the authors of the Gospels
wrote on two levels. For the "babes in Christ," there were apparent miracles, but the knowledge of exact meanings held by the highly
educated members of Gnostic schools gave a real history of whatJesus actually did.

In view of her research publications in academic journals, she was invited to lecture at Sydney University, at first in the Department
of Semitic Studies, then in the School of Divinity (now the Department of Religious Studies) where she continued until her
retirement. During this time she was a member of the Board of Studies in Divinity and the Board of Continuing Education, and
served for twelve years as a lay member of the New South Wales Equal Opportunity Tribunal. When her work became known in the
United States, she was made a fellow of theJesus Seminar.

In 1990 a documentary film about her research, Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls, was shown by the Australian Broadcasting
Academic reception
Thiering's thesis attracted some controversy in the media whenJesus the Man was published in 1990, and her ideas have not received
acceptance by many of her academic peers. In a response to a letter Thiering wrote to The New York Review of Books objecting to a
review by Géza Vermes, Vermes outlined the academic reception of her work stating:

"Professor Barbara Thiering's reinterpretation of the New Testament, in which the married, divorced, and remarried
Jesus, father of four, becomes the "Wicked Priest" of the Dead Sea Scrolls, has made no impact on learned opinion.
Scroll scholars and New Testament experts alike have found the basis of the new theory, Thiering's use of the so-
called "pesher technique", without substance."[3]

In 1993 N. T. Wright, New Testament historian and former Bishop of Durham, wrote:

It is safe to say that no serious scholar has given this elaborate and fantastic theory any credence whatsoever. It is
nearly ten years since it was published; the scholarly world has been able to take a good look at it: and the results are
totally negative.

James F. McGrath, an Associate Professor in the Religion and Philosophy department at Butler University in his 1996 review of the
book states that Thiering's thesis lacks proof, and that she herself acknowledges that the pesher of the Revelation of St. John is her
own composition.[5]

Edna Ullman-Margalit, a former professor at theHebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote:[6]

As an example consider the case of Barbara Thiering. She claims that the scrolls are the product of rivalry between
the supporters of John the Baptist, identified with the scrolls’ “Teacher of Righteousness,” and Jesus, identified with
the “Man of the Lie.” For my purposes this theory must be considered altogether initially outlandish, given the
scientifically definitive dating (based mostly on paleographical and on radiocarbon techniques) of the scrolls to a
period well before the birth of Christianity (Thiering, 1992). Thiering’s theory, by the way, is a good example of a
fringe theory that is popular with the media.

Australian theologian Christopher Walker has written:[7]

Barbara Thiering's identification of two of the main personalities of the Qumran Scrolls - the 'Teacher of
Righteousness' and the 'Wicked Priest' with John the Baptist and Jesus respectively - has not convinced any
professional working in the field. ... Her extensive use of the pesher technique to reinterpret the whole story of Jesus
is equally unsupported by the scholarly community
. ...

Despite her claims to the contrary, supporting evidence from the Scrolls is not to be found for most of her hypotheses.
Having discovered the pesher technique, she uses it wholeheartedly and without discrimination. ...

As I have briefly indicated, her scholarly peers have found her arguments to be tenuous and
unconvincing. Despite her assertions to the contrary, her presentation of Jesus owes far more to
fictitious imagination than to historical research.

Barbara Thiering died on 16 November 2015, the day after her 85th birthday

Selected bibliography
Jesus the Man: New Interpretation from the Dead Sea Scrolls , re-issued in paperback with foreword by Barbara
Thiering (Simon and Schuster, New York; November 2006; ISBN 1-4165-4138-1).
Jesus of the Apocalypse: The Life of Jesus After the Crucifixion(Transworld Doubleday 1995,ISBN 0-385-40559-6).
(Translated into Japanese)
The Book That Jesus Wrote - John’s Gospel (Transworld Doubleday 1998,ISBN 0-552-14665-X)
Created Second? Key Aspects of Women's Liberation in Australia(Sydney, Family Life Movement of Australia,1973,
ISBN 9780909922603)

1. Nerida, Paul and David Thiering (4 December 2015),"Academic and iconoclast Barbara Thiering exemplified
tumultuous 1960's ethos"(
emplified-tumultuous-1960s-ethos-20151203-glf9mk.html), Sydney Morning Herald, retrieved 25 March 2016
2. Jesus the Man, p. 46.
3. The New York Review of Books, December 1st, 1994.
4. Wright, Nicholas Thomas(1993). Who was Jesus? (
id=UjhQb7GCJdEC&pg=PA19). Wm. B. Erdmans. p. 23.ISBN 0-8028-0694-5.
5. James F. McGrath. "Review of Barbara Thiering, 'Jesus of the Apocalypse. The Life of Jesus after the Crucifixion'"(h
ttp:// Chronicle Jan. 1996: 170-172.
6. Ullman-Margalit, Edna (May 2006).Out of the Cave: A Philosophical Inquiry Into the Dead Sea Scrolls Research
Harvard University Press. p. 20.ISBN 9780674022232.
7. Walker, Christopher C. (1995).Jesus Christ: More Than a Man. Melbourne: The Joint Board of Christian Education.
pp. 7-8. ISBN 1-86407-071-4
8. Sydney Morning Herald, Tributes (
retrieved 21 December 2015

External links
Pesher Technique website of Dr. Barbara Thiering.
The Pesher Technique, Barbara Thiering, reply by Geza Vermes
A Review of Jesus the Man by C.B. Forbes at the Wayback Machine (archived 16 July 2011)
Thiering's Profile at theWestar Institute
Pesher and the Dead Sea Sectarians
Sydney Morning Herald obituary[1]

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This page was last edited on 7 January 2018, at 04:08.

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