Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity Conference

The Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity Conference organized by Chris Keith and Anthony Le Donne and hosted by United Theological Seminary and the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, took place on October 4 and 5. It was a great conference. I am always a fan of smaller conferences where there is more interaction and discussion on a single topic and the related issues.

The core of the conference were presentations by the contributors to the volume edited by Keith and Le Donne and bearing the same title as the conference. Each paper was an argument against the basic premise of each of the criteria of authenticity as they have been used in historical Jesus studies. You can read the book to get the details and you can read Mark Goodacre's blog for the play by play (Oct 4 and 5).

There is a question as to what the demise of the criteria of authenticity means for historical Jesus study and whether their demise is eminent. While many of the presenters highlighted the gigantic holes in many of the criteria, there was some push back on day 2 as to whether or not the criteria can be completely ditched. Memory and Social memory theory were offered as possible ways forward, but not everyone thought so.

Some difficulties for those of us teaching about Jesus and the Gospels are whether or not or how to teach the criteria. If they do not give us viable historical data and we have continually to make caveats, what is the way forward. Chris and Anthony would like to see this as the beginning of a paradigm shift in historical Jesus studies. Some were not convinced, but with Dale Allison and Jens Schröter on their side, and Loren Stuckenbruck, Mark Goodacre, and Dagmar Winter providing arguments to help their case, there may be change in the air.

Excellent conference. Great to have been there and that it actually took place.

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