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Introduction to the

& the World of Jesus
TH 201 (Revised Fall 2013)

The Historical Narrative Continues

We left the Israelites in the Babylonian Exile
(597/587 BCE 537 BCE):
The Bad:
Away from the Promised Land; Where is God?; Covenant?

The Good:
Life, in general, was easier and more prosperous

The Changes:
Religious shift from the Temple to Rabbinic Judaism
Hebrew Scriptures take final forms that we have today.
Beginning of Diaspora Judaism

Then, Cyrus the Great (the Enlightened) of

Persia allows the Israelites to return home:
Some do, some dont (stay or go elsewhere).

Then What?
Eventually, circa 250 BCE, the Greeks
(Alexander the Great) conquers the
Hellenization (spreading of Greek
culture/common language)

Rome rises to power and issues the Pax

Romana (27 BCE to circa 187 CE)
Pax Romana allowed for ease of travel in the
Empire b/c there was no war (no opposition)
More to come on Rome later

So, there were Gospels/Letters not

included in the Bible?
To be accepted into the canon, the text
had to:
1) Be rooted in the teaching of the
2)Circulated to more than one
3)Reflect the traditional faith of the
early Church.

Evolution of the Christian


Stages of Development

Life stage of Jesus (circa 5BCE circa 33CE)

Jesus of history was a JEWISH man (Wright, Chp 1).
Focus was on the Kingdom and God himself.

Preaching stage about Jesus (33CE 50CE)

Christ of faith emerges; Focus shifts to who was

Writing stage (50CE 65CE)

Establishment of early Christian communities
Networked through letters (Paul)

Editing stage (65CE circa 100CE)

Gospels & other texts come together in final form
Christianity and Judaism split

Lets interject a little NT Wright (Ch

In studying the Gospels, one is forced
to wrestle with Who is this man? (pg.
1. Jesus world is a strange/foreign world to
2. Jesus God seems strange to us What
Jesus said didnt fit with conventional
theology of his day.
3. Jesus spoke and acted as if he WAS in
charge! (pg11)

Why record the stories? Why not?

1. Why NOT?
The Parousia! Life will end soon as we know it

2. Why?
Distortions in the teachings/stories
More instructions were needed.
Parousia still hadnt come people/eye witnesses
were dying off

Gospels were probably written in reverse

order which explains why we have more detail
in the Passion narratives than anywhere else.

Historical Critical
Review and Overview:
1. Historical Criticism (Wright chps. 3,4,5)
2. Source Criticism (we will do next time)
3. Form Criticism
A) Gospel/Evangelist/evangelion
B) Within the Gospel, we have hyperbole,
parables, sermons, discourses, narratives,

4. Redaction Criticism
WHY did the author/editor write what he did
relevant to his audience and their situation.

Heres more NT
What do we bring to the text? (Chp 3)
1. High pressure system of conservative
2. New classic modernist myth

MYTH a story that purports to be some sense

historical and that encapsulates and reinforces
the strongly helf belief of the community that
tells it (pg 18)
The world of Jesus was very complex be aware
of the worldview you bring to the text (pg 23).

The Perfect Storm:

1. The Roman Storm:
Social, political, and military power of
Jesus day
Julius Ceaser made people believe he
was divine
Middle East was important to Rome for
trade, grain, etc.
Roman presence in Jerusalem to keep
peace, collect taxes, regulate trade,
suppress unrest

2. The Jewish Storm:

Jewish belief/hope rests in
covenant/Promised land

3. The Hurricane (GOD):

Culture / World of Jesus:

Economic reality:
Few rich
Next to no middle class
Working poor
Poorest of the poor
Includes widows, orphans, the sick, and many
Primary target of Jesus public ministry
To the establishment (Roman and Jewish), Jesus
was a danger because he offered this group

Theo-political groups (we will meet):

Pharisees: Torrah and Tradition