Archive for April, 2009

Lecture Notes from Theology 1050 (04/27/2009)

Monday, April 27th, 2009

THL-1050 – Professor Ruscil

04/27/2009 – 16:30

2 Quizes Wednesday – Regular Quiz on The Search for the Historical Jesus (10 Questions) and one on the research project (10 Questions)

Finish research project – re-read paper on requirements- Learn more about the Qumran community

Finish Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time – Find 4 Portraits of Jesus


· Ruscil’s Summary on Christology

· Jesus as Lord


· Dialectical Theism, Panentheism, Dualism – Pick 1 for essay

· Quest for H.J., or Gospels – Pick 1 for essay

Today’s Lecture – Christology Cont’d

High / descending Christology – The starting point: A pre-existent, divine being comes down from heaven to perform a blood sacrifice. This category doesn’t exist for this language today. This is based on Greek philosophy/metaphysics.

The defining event: Incarnation (Christmas), the embodiment of the divine in the person of Jesus

In the earliest church, the one thing that was given was that he was a human being (mostly recognized around Easter). The Greeks however left out the human aspect of Jesus.


1) Over-literalize the mythic language of high Christology

· Jesus becomes extra terrestrial, alien, superhuman

2) Jesus is pre-packaged with a human identity with full knowledge of his death (but what of self-actualization, his own freedom?)

· Jesus becomes an actor with a script

3) High Christology sets up an equation of equal identity – God = Jesus and Jesus = God (The church condemns this as a heresy)

· Monophysitism – One nature (and that is divine, — a heresy)

4) Resurrection loses its significance under H/C (because it becomes proof of the starting point)

Low / ascending Christology – The starting point: Jesus was fully human like any human

How Christian interpretation of Jesus ascends to “divine language”?

The defining event: resurrection (Easter) – performs a function, it transforms Jesus – transformed physicality

Only through the resurrection that Jesus now shares/participates in the life of God

This Jesus whom you’ve crucified has become lord and Christ through resurrection of the dead. Beforehand, you would not consider him those things.

St. Paul: Just as through Adam all died, through Jesus all will be reborn (paraphrase)

Divinity of the pre-Easter Jesus:

1) Points to a radical relationship between Jesus and God; God’s self-giving (said earlier that this is the whole point of revelation) was so complete that it transformed Jesus on every level.

2) As a human person Jesus doesn’t possess divinity in and of himself

· Only in virtue of his relationship with God is Jesus divine

3) Jesus’ divinity points to the capacity of all human beings to share fully in God’s life

· Jesus is the focus of the locus – inclusive of all people

· Grace/Holy Spirit – divinizes us

· Jesus recreates the new human person by breathing on them (as God breathed Adam to life)

Lecture Notes from Theology 1050 (04/22/2009)

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

THL-1050 – Professor Ruscil

04/22/2009 – 16:30


1) Low Christology/High Christology

2) A low ascending approach to Christology (has no title page)

3) Theme handout (by Ruscil) about the gospels

Response paper due Monday:

The quest for the hist. Jesus

Or The Gospels

Final Exam: Tuesday May 05 11:45AM – 1:15 (or so)

2 out of 3-4 essay questions (your choice)

Gospels as Literature

Apologetical reasons for why the 4 titles were given to the gospels. They were chosen to give an air of legitimacy to the gospels.

Authorship, here’s what we can say:

· We know for a fact they’re 2nd generation x-tians, not eye witnesses

· Greek, gentile communities

· Well educated (93%-95% illiteracy back in that time)

The formation process of the gospels

Gospels: snapshots of a developing tradition:

3 distinct layers to the gospel

1) The life setting of the Historical Jesus – 27-30CE The historical words and actions of Jesus himself)

2) The life setting of the early church – 30-70CE The oral tradition, the first major development

5 needs of the early church

a) Apologetics – justify or defend faith in an executed/crucified criminal

b) Faith crises in the community had to be addressed – stories get developed and shaped according to the contemporary issues taking place in the church

c) Catachesis and paranesis – stories have to be told in such a way that they automatically teach people (catechetical). Stories exhort faithful to lifestyles.

d) Liturgical needs of the early church (ritual & worship) – ritual shapes the stories (last supper)

e) Proclamatory needs – stories had to supply the confession of faith

3) Life setting of the evangelists – 70ce-110ce – writing down the gospels

Evangelists – selecting, arranging, redacting, editing, omitting, adding to the stories from stage 2.

John sees Jesus as the lamb of God, used the timing of his sentencing and death to parallel the Passover sacrificing of the lamb, but leaves in a historical truth about the breaking of the legs of the 2 thieves that were crucified with Jesus (Jesus was already dead, so they pierced him with the spear).

So in short, these 3 stages are important b/c you can see how the gospels have been changed from stage to stage, lending further credence to the gospels as literature and to the contemporary view of the gospels

Anti-semitism is more a reflection of the early church than it is of Jesus’s/x-tianity’s view points.

(Aside, for catholics: 1963 – Pontifical Bible Commission: “The Historical Truth of the Gospels”

· 3 stages of development comprise our Gospels

The Synoptic Problem

Synopsis, Greek, “having similar perspective”

Literary interdependence between Mt, Mk, & Lk

Mark’s gospel is most likely the first to have been written (it is widely believed today) and the other two were heavily influenced by (or plagiarized from) Mark.

This is where the Q document comes in (It’s a theory), stands for German Quelle = source. It only has saying of Jesus. (The document is not known to actually exist, or at least it isn’t known to be in anyone’s possession) Earliest strands of teaching (Jesus as wisdom teacher, eschatological coloring). The Our Father is supposed to be here, as are ideas from the Sermon on the Mount

2 Source theory regarding the synoptic problem:

Mark and the Q Document

4 source theory adds 2 more sources:

Luke had his own private source, unknown. Particular Lukan material

And Matthew’s private source

Lecture Notes from Theology 1050 (04/20/2009)

Monday, April 20th, 2009

THL-1050 – Professor Ruscil

04/20/2009 – 16:30

Dead Sea Scrolls Quiz: Next Wednesday, 04/29

The last topic that will be due next Monday: Historical Jesus and the way we approach the gospels: What do you think of the search for the historical Jesus? Or pick a stage of the research, 2 parts, 3 pages typed. 1st Page summation, next 2-3 pages, explain the topic.

Read Borg book by a week from this Wednesday.

Cont’d from last week (Stage 2, after Bultman):

You can’t start with a reconstructed, purely objective Jesus because no such thing exists. The first stage seekers of the hist. Jesus thought it was possible. The 2nd stagers say you can’t, you have to start with the gospel and the interpretations.

2nd Stage:

A) Bultman – No quest simply b/c there are no resources to come up with the quest. The gospels are not historical, eye witness, accounts.

· The gospels simply don’t allow for the historical reconstruction.

· Existential Jesus, if the Jesus spoken about in the gospels or by ministers affects you in some way, that’s all you need.

· Fideism

Problem with his approach is that he goes too far in cutting the tie between history and faith. If you really believe in Jesus and have authentic faith, there should be no unwillingness to learn about Jesus. It shouldn’t adversely affect your faith.

B) Albert Schweitzer (early 1900s) – Historical reconstructions are no good.

· Book: Quest for the Historical Jesus

· Previous researchers were missing an authentic context for Jesus

· The Historical Jesus is irrelevant for today (because contexts are so determinative)

· The identity of Jesus should be understood not as a revolutionary, but as THE eschatological prophet of the 1st century – preaching the arrival of the End of Times, the arrival of the Eschaton.

· Tragic hero, terrible miscalculation

· Schweitzer believed Jesus got into trouble on purpose, with the belief that God would intervene and bring about the End of Time before he was killed.

· In 300 years, Jesus’ religion is accepted as the state religion of the Roman empire that killed him, thus Jesus affects all of Western civilization

Stage 3 – Characterized as a complete turnaround from Stage 2. (1950s – present)

· Renews the quest

· We can get “snapshots” of the historical Jesus from the gospels, but never a complete picture

· Accepts the discontinuity (of the hist. Jesus & Ch. Of faith) that the 1st stage talked about

· The Christian interpretation is grounded in the historical words and deeds of Jesus himself

· There is enough history in the gospels (implicit Christology)

· Whenever Jesus mentions God, he uses the Aramaic word “Abba” (tr. As Dada, or Daddy)

Ernest Kasëmann and Joachim Jeremias – X-tian interpretation is based historically in Jesus

1) Eschatological prophet preaching a “coming Kingdom”, which had a political meaning. If God’s breaking into history with God’s Kingdom, what would become of Caesar? (Rome eliminated/crucified all Messianic pretenders)

· The proclaimer became the proclaimed.

2) The gospels portray an interpreted Christ, not simply a historically factual Christ (the gospels as literature). These are faith interpretations/illustrations of what Jesus is all about.

Eschatological Age of Salvation:

· Outpouring of a “New Breath”

· A restoration of all the broken relationships (abba experience, hanging around with sinners, prostitutes, tax man, etc. )

· A new Israel, a new covenant made between God and the chosen people (“this is the cup of a new covenant.” 12 apostles, like the 12 tribes of Israel)

· A healing of humanity (from sickness, disease, even death) – Jesus’ ministry to the sick (bodies being healed was symbolic for the Jewish people, who were not like the Greek dualists. The broken body being healed is significant to them). Exorcisms

· The resurrection to new life – resurrection

· The battle of Armageddon, the final battle between good & evil

Baptized in the Jordan: political, when the Jews take the promised land, they go in through the Jordan. The sky opens up and immediately The Spirit is upon him. He then goes into the desert, a battle with the Devil (good vs. evil), Jesus wins (and makes it to Burning Man).

The Gospels:

As literature, their function. The word itself is derived from the Greek euaggelion, Latin euangelium. Eu = good. “The good message”, “the good news”. Has been made Lord and Christ.

The literary genre of the gospels – technically are sui generis, but fundamentally they should be understood as “faith proclamations”. They are meant to be understood as tools of evangelization. There is a spin, the spin is faith. By believers for believers.

The lense: post-resurrectional lense. X-tian faith as we know it didn’t start until his resurrection, after Easter. Post-Easter/Retrojected faith into the gospels.

Authorship of the gospels, through textual criticism (textually), the authors never identify themselves, the gospels should be considered anonymous pieces of literature.

Lecture Notes from Theology 1050 (04/15/2009)

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

THL-1050 – Professor Ruscil

04/15/2009 – 16:30

Final topics deal with Jesus and the gospels.

2nd model of revelation, scripture and gospels are no longer taken literally. Through history, through scientific inquiry, we can find out who Jesus was. Revelation is seeing/hearing about God through the mediator, through his/her language, voice, world view, etc. Same applies to Jesus in learning about him through his (contemporary) followers.

The Jesus of History vs. The Christ of Faith (started in the Enlightenment)


· Jewish, Galilean peasant, carpenter

· Flesh and blood person

· Finite, mortal

· Person of history: 6BCE-30CD; dead and gone


· Son of God, Messiah, Lord, 2nd person of trinity

· Pre-existent divine being (most attributable to the Greek world/philosophy)

· (homoousious – “same substance”)

· Still present today

The quest for the historical Jesus, a movement that bypasses the church for historical, critical inquiry

3 Stages:

Stage 1

1. Devoted to tying to disprove the continuity (last 1700s) [Hermann Reimarus]

· Emphasis: discontinuity betw. The historical Jesus and the Christ of faith.

· Reimarus said of Jesus: he was a political revolutionary (who failed)

· Isolates the message: the “Kingdom of God”, he was not preaching himself (the proclaimer became the proclaimed)

· Christ or the Hebrew messiah are the same term (Gk Christos). Christ means literally “the anointed one”

· Gospels: are unreliable documents of Jesus because they were products of deceit, a deliberate hoax that Jesus’ defeated followers perpetrated to continue his failed religion

Strength of this phase: contemporary scholars believe in discontinuity

Kingdom of God

The political message from Jesus was radical, which has been “whitewashed”

2. In response to Reimarus, D. F. Strauss (1800s)

· Jesus’s identity: a humble rabbi teaching the Jewish faith

· The Gospels: Mythic interpretations of Jesus (fictional stories narrated as history/truth to convey religious truth about Jesus

3. Adolph Harnack (1900s)

· Jesus: a teacher of ethics

· Gospels: “supernatural histories”

· Must be de-mythologized

· Rationalize all the miraculous

· Walking on water: a foggy night, the disciples didn’t know where they were, Jesus is actually on the shore and they are not far from the shore (but think they are).

Stage 2 (1900s)

Emphasis: Futility of “Quest”

A. Rudolf Bultman (father of Form Criticism)

· Jesus’ identity is unknown

· The reason why: The Gospels are not to be understood as historical accounts of the man Jesus, they are not history as we know it. They were standardized over the years, like the annunciation of Mary.

· Existential Jesus: when Christians hear Jesus preached in church (or elsewhere) and it effects their lives, that is all you need to know.


Stage 3

To be cont’d


1. Is there continuity between the historical Jesus and the Christ of Faith?

2. Judgments about Gospel literature – what is the purpose/function of the Gospels?

3. Re-interpretations of Jesus’ ministry & life

4. Reconstructions of the life of Christ

Lecture Notes from Theology 1050 (04/01/2009)

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

THL-1050 – Professor Ruscil

04/01/2009 – 16:30

Test (Mon – 20 Questions – 10 T/F & 10 Mult Choice + Bonus):

Foundational myth handout, all the *tologies (There is a lot of material in this category!)

Reforming our imagination

Science and Original Sin

Evolution Evil & Original Sin (something like that)


Christians in the know


Mystery of Suffering Evil

Thinking about God

Dead Sea Scrolls, Q Document, Gospel of Thomas

Redaction criticism, “what is unique about the document in comparison to others?”

source criticism

Resources & Authors, introductions to gospels, introductions to the new testament, dictionaries of the bible, etc.

See the back of the 1-pg handout for a list of authors to check out, make sure the dates are as late as possible, since many of the sources from the ‘50s and ‘60s are outdate now.


Traditional Approach

· Since the Enlightenment, miracles are based on causality –

· Criteria: cause and effect (all unexplainable events must be a miracle, wherever science can’t give an explanation, it must be miraculous).


· Based on causality; knowledge of science

1. Sets up an either/or scenario – God becomes little more than a physical cause – God’s direct intervention

2. An unexplained event does not/shouldn’t warrant the conclusion of God’s intervention (Creates a “God of the Gaps”)

3. Miraculous cannot be statements of fact but rather statements of faith

Contemporary Approach:

Panentheism – God is omnipresent

· Miraculous events are concrete, historical manifestations of the self-giving of God, which is always already intrinsic to the world

· Miracles are like getting a very minor glimpse of what God’s already doing, kind of analogous to radio waves which are always there, but not heard until a radio tunes into them

· The criteria for a miracle: Not about the empirical, is more about the religious meaning of an event

· God’s actions are always mediated (I can only work through you) – God’s actions take place through people, through events, even through things. The physical is permeated with the transcendent

· Rather than either/or scenario, this sets up a both/and scenario – God works through the natural, physical processes

· Two simultaneous causes

1. God is always primary cause

2. But works through secondary causality (what we refer to as the laws of nature, physics)

· God’s actions are going to have the appearance, on the empirical level, of common, ordinary events.