L606 Winter 2020 The Jesus of History
Tuesdays, 9:40–11:05, Jan. 28–Feb. 18
Instructor: Jack Dalby
New Testament scholar John Meier once noted that, “we cannot know the real Jesus through historical research. However, modern historical methodology does allow scholars to recover enough information to form a faint outline of a faded fresco that allows for many interpretations.” So just who was the Jesus of history? Was he a Cynic philosopher, messiah, zealot, apocalyptic prophet, magician, the son of God, or God? Over the past 2,000 years, all these titles, and many more, have been applied to the carpenter’s son from Nazareth. In this fast-paced, academically-based course, we will attempt to reconstruct the Jesus of history by examining what modern historians say about this enigmatic 1st century Palestinian Jew. Topics for discussion will include the sources for the historical Jesus, the critical methods historians use to evaluate these sources, how human memory affects stories told about Jesus, what kinds of claims Jesus made about himself, and whether he founded a new religion. Ample time will be available for in-depth questions before, during, and after class. Owning a copy of the New Testament is useful, but not mandatory.
Jack Dalby, president of White Oak Communications, has lectured on the topics of the historical Jesus and early Christianity with OLLI since 2012. In addition, he has lectured on the same topics at Loudoun County schools and various Northern Virginia churches. He holds a BS in communication arts from James Madison University.