CONTINUING STUDIES
Stanford University, Fall Quarter, 2006

Religion 15: THE HISTORICAL JESUS

HOW DID JESUS OF NAZARETH, WHO NEVER CLAIMED TO BE CHRIST OR DIVINE, BECOME THE SON OF GOD?

Professor Thomas Sheehan
Department of Religious Studies
Stanford University

Overview:

Who was the historical Jesus of Nazareth? What did he actually say and do, ascontrasted with what early Christians (e.g., Paul and the Gospel writers) believed thathe said and did?

What did the man Jesus actually think of himself and of his mission, as contrasted withthe messianic and even divine claims that the New Testament makes about him? In short, what are the differences.and continuities.between the Jesus who lived and died in history and the Christ who lives on in believers. faith?

Over the last four decades historical scholarship on Jesus and his times.whetherconducted by Jews, Christians, or non-believers.has arrived at a strong consensusabout what this undeniably historical figure (born ca. 4 BCE, died ca. 30 CE) said anddid, and how he presented himself and his message to his Jewish audience. Often thathistorical evidence about Jesus does not easily dovetail with the traditional doctrines ofChristianity. How then might one adjudicate those conflicting claims?

This is a course about history, not about faith or theology. It will examine the best available literary and historical evidence about Jesus and his times and will discussmethodologies for interpreting that evidence, in order to help participants make theirown judgments and draw their own conclusions.

Episodes

  1. CALL ME YESHUA
    Introduction to the course
  2. KINGDOM AND CATASTROPHE
    A history of Israel
  3. LEFT BEHIND
    The first century of Christianity
  4. PEALING THE ONION
    From the Gospels and Paul back to Yeshua
  5. APOCALYPSE NOW
    From the Baptist to the Kingdom
  6. WORDS AND WONDERS
    The ways of a prophet
  7. THE EMPIRE UNLEASHED
    Passion and death
  8. CRISIS AND CONTINUITY
    The making of a martyr
  9. APOCALYPSE TO COME
    Awakening the prophet
  10. RESURRECTION
    Rewriting history

Required texts:

  • New American Bible: St. Joseph New Testament Study Edition [ISBN 0899423116]
  • Thomas Sheehan, The First Coming: How the Kingdom of God Became Christianity http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/thomas_sheehan/firstcoming/index.shtml
  • Paula Fredriksen From Jesus to Christ, 2nd edition, Yale-Nota-Bene [9-780300 08457]
  • Bernard Scott, Re-imagine the World Polebridge [0944344 86 0]
  • Robert J. Miller, The Apocalyptic Jesus: A Debate Polebridge [0944344 89 5]
  • Dominic Crossan Who Killed Jesus? HarperSanFrancisco [0-06-06141803]
  • Stephen J. Patterson, Rethinking the Death and Life of Jesus [0-8006-3674-0] Various other texts