F601 Summer 2020 The Jesus of History
Tuesdays, 9:40–11:05, June 23–July 14
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 of many interpretations.” So just who was the Jesus of history? Was he a Cynic philosopher, messiah, zealot, apocalyptic prophet, magician, son of God, or God? Over the past 2,000 years all of these titles, and many more, have been applied to the carpenter’s son from Nazareth. In this course we will attempt to reconstruct the Jesus of history by examining what modern historians have to say about this enigmatic 1st century Palestinian Jew. Topics for discussion will include the sources for the historical Jesus and the critical methods historians use to evaluate these sources. What kinds of claims did Jesus make about himself? Did he establish a new religion? We will also discuss what historians have written about the major chapters in the life of Jesus. Owning a copy of the New Testament is useful, but not mandatory.
Jack Dalby, president of White Oak Communications, has lectured with OLLI since 2012 on the topic of the historical Jesus and early Christianity. In addition, he has lectured on the same topics at Loudoun County Schools and at various churches in Northern Virginia.