Monday, April 13, 2009

Jesus according to Meier and Wright

The Historical Jesus according to John Meier and N.T. Wright
Dennis Ingolfsland

The following is a version of an article published in Bibliotheca Sacra (October-December 1998): 460-473.

Two contemporary giants in the field of historical Jesus research are John Meier and N. T. Wright. Both have written significant works on Jesus and are at the forefront of the Third Quest for the historical Jesus.[1] John Meier is a Catholic priest and Professor of New Testament at Catholic University of America. Tom Wright is an Anglican canon who, after teaching for twenty years at such prestigious institutions as Cambridge and Oxford Universities, is now Dean of Lichfield cathedral in England.

This paper will provide a brief overview and comparison of the historical methodology and views of Jesus presented in Meier’s A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus (two volumes, 1,482 pages) and N.T. Wright’s Jesus and the People of God and Jesus and the Victory of God (1,138 pages total). The paper will begin with an overview and critique of Meier’s and Wright’s works individually, followed by a comparison of their historical methods.

I. The Historical Jesus according to John Meier
Meier writes, “The historical Jesus is not the real Jesus.”[2] The “historical Jesus” refers to that which can be reconstructed by means of modern historical research.[3] While no one can know everything a person said and did, enough is known about many public figures in modern history to get a fairly complete picture. Unfortunately, for most people in the ancient world, the evidence does not allow such complete reconstructions. So although the evidence does not allow us to have a very complete picture of the “real” Jesus, we can know the “historical Jesus.”[4]

Meier begins with a detailed discussion and critical analysis of historical sources for Jesus’ life, including Josephus, Tacitus, and apocrypha. The apocrypha are dismissed as being historically unreliable, though the Coptic Gospel of Thomas is discussed at some length because of its recent use in post-Bultmannian circles. Meier concludes that it is more probable “that the Gospel of Thomas knew and used at least some of the canonical Gospels, notably Matthew and Luke.”[5]
Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Lucian, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the agrapha, Pseudepigrapha, Philo, latter Rabbinic literature, and Nag Hammadi texts are also discussed briefly, but dismissed as not contributing much directly to the topic. Meier concludes that none of these works contain any direct references to Jesus or John the Baptist and that reports to the contrary “simply proves that learned fantasy knows no limits.”[6]

Our primary non-Christian source for the historical Jesus, therefore, comes from Josephus. After a lengthy and detailed discussion of the Testimonium Flavianum, Maier concludes that the passage is authentic as it stands with the exception of three phrases: “If indeed one should call him a man”, “He was the Messiah” and “he appeared to them on the third day….” [7] Therefore, according to Meier, Josephus confirms that Jesus was known as a wise-man and teacher, a miracle-worker and exorcist who had a large following but was accused by Jewish leaders and crucified by Pontius Pilate. His followers continued on into Josephus’ day.[8] Since this is not much to go on, Meier concludes that the four canonical Gospels are the only significant sources of information for the study of the historical Jesus.

Meier adopts the standard critical position that the gospels were written from forty to seventy years after Jesus lived and that the problem is, therefore, to “distinguish what comes from Jesus” (stage one) “from what was created by the oral tradition of the early church” (stage two), “and what was produced by the editorial work (redaction) of the evangelists” (stage three).[9] Meier proposes five primary criteria, and five secondary criteria by which to separate that which is historical from that which is not. The primary criteria are: 1) the criterion of embarrassment.[10] 2) the criterion of discontinuity.[11] 3) the criterion of multiple attestation.[12] 4) the criterion of coherence.[13] and 5) the criterion of rejection and execution.[14] The secondary criteria are: 1) the criterion of traces of Aramaic.[15] 2) the criterion of Palestinian environment.[16] 3) the criteria of vividness of narration.[17] 4) the criterion of the tendencies of the developing synoptic tradition.[18] 5) the criterion of historical presumption.[19] Meier admits that his secondary criteria are of somewhat “dubious” quality by themselves—the last two he says are almost worthless—but insists that they may be helpful to confirm decisions already made on the basis of primary criteria.[20] He also reminds the reader that the application of these criteria is more an art than a science and can yield only varying degrees of probability.

When Meier applies these criteria to Jesus, the following picture emerges: Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great, probably near the end of his reign. Jesus’ mother was named Mary and his father was named Joseph.[21] He was probably born in Nazareth, though a birth in Bethlehem cannot positively be ruled out.[22] There was “an early and widely attested belief in Jesus’ Davidic descent,” but this does not mean that Jesus “was literally, biologically of Davidic stock”.[23] Historical research cannot confirm or deny the testimony about the virgin birth,[24] but the counter tradition that he was illegitimate is of later origin.[25]

Evidence indicates that Jesus may well have been literate and trilingual (Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic), but he was not a trilingual teacher.[26] Jesus’ occupation was woodworker, probably a maker of such items as doors, door frames, locks, bolts and various pieces of furniture.[27] This probably placed him somewhere in what Americans would call the lower part of the middle class.[28]

Jesus’ family consisted of his mother and father, brothers and sisters,[29] as well as an extended village family. The break he made with these ties “no doubt left deep scars that can still be seen in the Gospel narratives.”[30] While we cannot be certain whether Jesus was ever married, it is more likely that he was celibate.[31] Jesus was a layman and “charismatic wonder-worker in conflict with priests” who were concerned about keeping the status quo.[32]
While we cannot reconstruct a chronology of Jesus’ ministry, we can establish certain rough dates. He was born in 7 or 6 B.C. He was attracted to John’s ministry about AD 27 or 28. His ministry lasted for about “two years and a few months” and came to an end by crucifixion in April of AD 30.[33]

In volume two Meier begins with a detailed study of John the Baptist. John was an anti-establishment prophet whose views were likely developed and expanded by being raised in Qumran.[34] John was a prophet who proclaimed imminent and fiery judgment on unrepentant Israel. He was one who emphasized that escaping God’s judgment could only be effected by a change of heart accompanied by outward change in action, not merely by being the “offspring of Abraham”.[35] John chose to preach his message up and down the Jordan River valley. Meier acknowledges the symbolism in this, but insists that John preached in the “real Judean desert” and by the “real Jordan River”.[36]

After discussing “John without Jesus”, Meier goes on to discuss “Jesus without John”. He argues that about AD 28 Jesus traveled to the Jordan River to receive baptism by John and in so doing, “acknowledged John’s imminent fiery judgment on a sinful Israel. Jesus submitted to John’s baptism as a seal of his resolve to change his life and as a pledge of salvation as part of a purified Israel…”[37] Jesus then became, for awhile, a member of John’s disciples and eventually took some of his own disciples from John’s group.[38] Jesus carried on John’s views of “God’s imminent judgment” on Israel, and his call to repentance and baptism.[39]

Jesus then began to preach the kingdom of God. This, according to Meier, evokes the whole Old Testament story of God’s good creation having fallen into sin, his gracious choice of Israel and their liberation from bondage in Egypt, the descent of Israel into even greater idolatry and sin, their refusal to heed their prophets warnings, the Babylonian exile and promise of future restoration of a kingdom of peace and righteousness.[40] This became central to his proclamation[41] of a future kingdom which would bring a reversal of “poverty, sorrow and hunger”, would include Gentiles,[42] and would transcend “time, space, hostility between Jews and Gentiles, and finally death itself”.[43] But the kingdom was not wholly future. It was also in some sense already present in the ministry of Jesus himself,[44] “It was present in his powerful preaching and teaching, present in his table fellowship offered to all…”[45] In fact, the evidence points to the probability that Jesus actually enacted this present aspect of the kingdom in feats that those around him thought of as miraculous healings, exorcisms and in raising the dead.[46] But, “as Jesus comes to the Last Supper, he is faced with the fact that his ministry, from a human point of view, has been largely a failure.”[47] He senses that death is near, but he is convinced that “his cause is God’s cause” and that God will vindicate him by seating Jesus at the final banquet in the kingdom.[48] Discussion of Jesus’ resurrection will, evidently, have to wait until Meier completes his third volume.

II. Critique of Meier
John Meier is certainly to be commended for his lengthy and detailed analysis of the historical Jesus. When compared to some of the books coming out of the Jesus Seminar, for example, Meier’s work is a breath of fresh air. He states his criteria up-front and goes into meticulous, thorough, and sometimes nearly exhaustive analysis of the data in light of various scholarly opinions. His view of the historical Jesus is certainly much closer to that of the gospel writers than most of the ones presented by those in the First, Second or the Third quests.

Nevertheless, no work of this magnitude is likely to be without difficulties and Meier’s work is no exception. First, Meier’s whole method is essentially a minimalist approach based on the worn-out model of higher-critical skepticism. He will simply not admit as evidence anything the Gospel writers have written unless it can be multiply and independently attested, unless it is a source of embarrassment to early Christians, unless the saying cannot be attributed either to early Christianity or to Judaism, etc. This is not to downplay the importance of these criteria, but it would be a very interesting study to examine the historical background information that is assumed as fact in some Third Quest books, to see how much of it could stand up to the same criteria.

Second, while one gets the impression that Meier has tried hard to be honest and objective, no one, including the writer of this review, is ever completely objective and Meier is no exception. For example, while acknowledging that the tradition about Jesus’ birth is multiply and independently attested, and that it is not the creation of the evangelists, he nevertheless writes that Jesus was more probably born in Nazareth! [49]

Meier’s bias also comes through when he then attempts to explain how Matthew “must strain” to show how Jesus ended up in Nazareth. Matthew reports that Joseph went to Nazareth because Herod’s son Archelaus was ruling Judea. Meier thinks this an unbelievable explanation because Herod’s other son, Antipas, who killed John the Baptist, was ruling Galilee. But Joseph had no way of knowing that Antipas would kill John the Baptist! What he probably did know, however, was that soon after Herod’s death, Archelaus had three thousand Jews killed in Jerusalem![50] Matthew’s explanation makes perfect sense in light of the history of the time, and it is hard to explain Meier’s lapse of memory on this.

Another example of bias is Meier’s view that “all Four Gospels have to struggle to ‘make John safe’ for Christianity”. His evidence is 1) that Mark’s John does not recognize Jesus’ true identity, 2) that Matthew’s John recognizes Jesus dignity, 3) Luke’s John is a relative of Jesus “so that the fetus of the Baptist may greet and bear witness to the fetus of Jesus…” and 4) in the Gospel of John, the Baptist’s main function is not to baptize, but to bear witness to Jesus. This is all seen as being a contradictory conflict of interpretations due to the fact that John was an embarrassment to early Christians.[51] But there is simply nothing necessarily conflicting or contradictory in any of these points and Meier’s statement about the fetus of John bearing witness to the fetus of Jesus is certainly stretching Luke’s actual statement! Meier’s arguments about the Gospel’s making John “safe” for Christianity are, therefore, apparently based more on a desire to see John’s relation to Jesus a certain way, rather than on his stated criteria.

The highlighting of Meier’s bias is not intended to disparage Meier’s work as a whole. It is intended, rather, to make the point that there are numerous places where Meier dismisses evidence from the Gospels as being creations of the later church where I think his bias has clearly led him beyond the evidence.

Aside from this, Meier has produced an outstanding work that stands head and shoulders above most similar works on the historical Jesus. Unfortunately, the historical methodology he uses is still essentially a minimalist skeptical approach which is not generally applied to other areas of ancient history. The value of Meier’s work is to show the very least we can know about Jesus from a strictly historical perspective, which, contrary to Bultmann and his followers, turns out to be quite a significant amount. To determine not just the minimum, but what we can reasonably know about the historical Jesus, we need a new paradigm. N.T. Wright has proposed just such a paradigm.

III. The Historical Jesus according to N.T. Wright
Wright begins by laying an epistemological and worldview foundation for the historical study of Jesus and the New Testament. Arguing against both historical positivism[52] and phenomenalism,[53] Wright advocates the philosophy of “critical realism” which proposes a “spiraling path” of interaction between the “knower” and the thing to be known.[54] With “critical realism” as the epistemological foundation for his historiography, Wright proceeds to argue that history should be researched like other sciences, i.e., by developing hypotheses and proposing tests to determine their validity.[55]

Wright goes on to discuss literary theory and storytelling, arguing that worldviews are often expressed in the stories people tell.[56] He argues that the Jews were no different from other people in their storytelling, except that Jewish stories often had a basis in historical events. He demonstrates that the essential story of Israel involves the creator God who calls Israel to be His people but because of sin, these people have gone into exile. According to Wright, first century Jews believed that Israel was still in exile but expected one day to be redeemed because they were the covenant people of God.

Wright develops this thesis by proposing that Jesus, followed by the early church, re-told this story of Israel with a different and subversive twist. They told the story in such a way that Jesus was seen as the story’s climax. God was working in and through Jesus to bring about the establishment of God’s kingdom through the redemption—the return from exile—of the true Israel who were those who responded to Jesus in faith. Wright develops this thesis at great length in volume two, Jesus and the Victory of God.

Wright begins his second volume by tracing the quest for the historical Jesus from Reimarus to the present, arguing that the modern quest is divided along party lines between those (very broadly speaking) following the path of Wrede in “thoroughgoing scepticism” and those following Schweitzer in thoroughgoing eschatology. Wright places Downing, Funk, Mack, Crossan, and most Jesus’ Seminar scholars in Wrede’s camp and offers an extended and, in my opinion, devastating critique of their positions.[57] The latter camp is what Wright labels “the Third Quest” and includes such scholars as Hengel, Vermes, Borg, Sanders, Theissen, Horsley, Freyne, Charlesworth, Witherington and Meier. Wright includes himself in this camp, the primary characteristic of which is the “real attempt to do history seriously” and to “be guided by first-century sources.”[58]

Wright then suggests that there are five key questions that have emerged within this Third Quest. They are: 1) How does Jesus fit into Judaism? 2) What were Jesus’ aims? 3) Why did Jesus die? 4) How and why did the early church begin? 5) Why are the Gospels what they are? [59]

Wright’s methodology involves proposing a hypothesis to answer these major questions. He further proposes to test his hypothesis by the following criteria: 1) coherence with other known data. 2) the criteria of double-dissimilarity, i.e., when something fits well within known first century Judaism, and also explains elements of later Christianity. 3) the criterion of simplicity, i.e., its ability to provide plausible answers to the major questions without having to manipulate, distort, or omit the data.[60]

Wright’s hypothesis contains five parts: 1) Jesus spoke and acted believably in a first century Jewish context. 2) Jesus believed himself to be charged by God with the task of “regrouping Israel around himself”, not in preparation for the coming kingdom, but as the kingdom. Jesus viewed this as the return from exile, the redemption of Israel and the resurrection of Israel from the dead. It was a counter-temple movement and was perceived as such by the religious authorities. 3) This movement explains opposition from Pharisees, the Temple establishment and the Romans. 4) If Jesus’ message and mission “were vindicated after that shameful death, there would be every reason to continue to believe that the kingdom had indeed arrived, and that it extended even to Gentiles. 5) The parable of the “prodigal father” is precisely this story: the story of “the prophetic son, Israel-in-person, who will himself go into the far country, who will take upon himself the shame of Israel’s exile, so that the kingdom may come, the covenant be renewed, and the prodigal welcome of Israel’s god, the creator, be extended to the ends of the earth.”[61] The rest of volume two attempts to show in great detail how the parables, teachings and actions of Jesus recorded in the Gospels, as well as the structure of the Gospels themselves, support this five-fold hypothesis and meet the pre-established criteria.

When Wright applies his hypothesis, as verified by the stated criteria, the following picture of Jesus emerges: Jesus was born about 4 BC, grew up in Nazareth, spoke Aramaic as well as some Greek and Hebrew, and emerged as a public figure around AD 28. He traveled around the villages of Galilee calling people to repent and announcing the kingdom. He also enacted his message “by remarkable cures, including exorcisms, and by sharing table-fellowship with a socio-culturally wide group.”[62]

As a prophet Jesus “regarded his ministry as in continuity with, and bringing to a climax, the work of the great prophets of the Old Testament”.[63] His prophetic message was “designed to encourage those who ‘have ears to hear’ to believe that they really are the true Israel of the covenant god, and that they will soon be vindicated as such—while the rest of the world, including particularly the now apostate or impenitent Israel, is judged.[64]

Jesus, therefore, believed himself to be in some sense the representative of Israel, the “focal point of the people of YHWH, the returned-from-exile people, the people of the renewed covenant, the people whose sins were now to be forgiven”.[65] As the true interpreter of the Torah, the builder of the Temple and spokesperson for wisdom, he was the very embodiment of the message he had preached.[66] But to bring about the end of exile and forgiveness of sins he would have to go to Jerusalem, fight the forces of evil and be enthroned as rightful king. And that is what he set out to do, though “as he hinted to James and John, he had in mind a different battle, a different throne”.[67] Jesus went to Jerusalem to die.[68] For Wright, Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem was highly symbolic:

Focus…on a young Jewish prophet telling a story about YHWH returning to Zion as judge and redeemer, and then embodying it by riding into the city in tears, symbolizing the Temple’s destruction and celebrating the final exodus. I propose as a matter of history, that Jesus of Nazareth was conscious of a vocation: a vocation given him by the one he knew as ‘father’, to enact in himself what, in Israel’s scriptures, God had promised to accomplish all by himself. He would be the pillar of cloud and fire for the people of the new exodus. He would embody in himself the returning and redeeming action of the covenant God.[69]

The coming of YHWH is, therefore, to be understood in terms of Jesus’ coming to Jerusalem to die. The “second coming” announced in Matthew 24-25 is not, according to Wright, the personal return of Jesus, but rather the great judgment coming upon Jerusalem and its leadership which will vindicate “Jesus and his people as the true Israel.”[70] There is, of course, a time lag between the first and second comings, but according to Wright it is not the 2000 year gap usually imagined. It is the gap between Jesus’ coming to Jerusalem to die, and the destruction of Jerusalem forty years later.[71]

IV. Critique of Wright
Wright has proposed a refreshing new model for doing New Testament historical studies. Gone are the attempts to squeeze the Gospels and New Testament into relatively recent philosophical models (e.g., Paulus’ rationalism, Strauss’ Hegelianism, etc.). Gone is the hyper skepticism of past and recent studies (e.g., Bultmann, Mack, etc). Gone is the atomistic and highly questionable dissection of verses and pericopes (e.g., Kloppenborg). Both Meier and Wright, at long last, are attempting to do serious historical research being guided by first-century religion, philosophy, and historical sources. And the picture of Jesus that emerges from Wright’s analysis, though given an interesting twist, is one that finally does justice to the New Testament data.

Nevertheless, there are numerous aspects of Wright’s work which are bound to be highly controversial among evangelicals. One issue, for example, is Wright’s use of the parable of the prodigal son as the basic illustrative paradigm for his hypothesis. He interprets this parable in such a way that the prodigal son represents Israel who goes into exile because of sin, later to return in repentance to a loving and waiting father. The prodigal son also represents Jesus, who, as the embodiment of Israel, has taken on her sin and is facilitating the return of Israel from exile. The angry brother is the religious establishment opposed to Jesus’ program of calling Israel to repentance and return from exile. While Wright’s interpretation has much to commend it, it will no doubt be a topic for discussion.

Another topic of possible controversy is Wright’s insistence that first century Jews believed the exile was not yet over. Wright makes a good case for this, showing that even though Jews were back in their land, the promises of God proclaimed by the prophets had not yet been fulfilled; but this too could no doubt be a topic of debate.

Especially controversial is Wright’s insistence that the “coming of the son of man in the clouds” in Daniel is to be taken figuratively of “YHWH’s destruction of opposing forces and vindication of His people and Messiah.”[72] In fact, if Wright believes in a literal second coming of Christ at all, it is not apparent from the two books under consideration. However, if first century Christians understood the second coming to be entirely figurative, one wonders why New Testament writers seemed to understand Jesus’ coming literally (e.g., Acts 1:9-11, Matthew 24:29-44, cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18, et al). Wright’s dismissal of all such passages as apocalyptic imagery is unconvincing. Unfortunately, we will have to wait for Wright’s third volume for a more thorough the answer to this question.[73]

Finally, although it is not fashionable in critical circles to place much historical credence in the Gospel of John, it is puzzling why Wright chooses to exclude it entirely from his study of the historical Jesus. This is especially true since, 1) Wright has done an excellent job of pointing out the utter bankruptcy of higher critical scholarship in Jesus studies, so it is unusual that he apparently bows to the pressures of critical scholarship by excluding John from consideration. 2) Wright has developed a whole new paradigm for historical Jesus studies, so it is strange that he has chosen not to include John in that paradigm. 3) Even Meier, who takes a much more skeptical approach to the study of Jesus than Wright, acknowledges that some of the Gospel of John contains historically useful information. It is strange, therefore, that Wright does not seem to agree, at least in practice. Adding John to the pool of possible sources may help to modify or clarify certain points in Wright’s reconstruction.

V. Summary and Conclusions: Comparison and methodology
There are several differences in Meier’s and Wright’s historical methodology. One, for example, is that Wright takes the time to develop a solid foundation for his work with discussions of epistemology, worldviews, literary and historical studies. He paints a broad picture of the first century in light of this foundation, develops a hypothesis about the historical Jesus which fits into this broad picture and which answers the questions Third Quest scholars are asking, and seeks to verify his hypothesis by pre-selected criteria. Meier, on the other hand, assumes the validity of many higher critical assumptions about the Gospels, spells out his criteria, and analyzes various sources and individual passages in great depth to determine their historical reliability. In other words, Wright begins with a broad picture, develops a hypothesis and uses his criteria to verify the details. Meier applies his criteria to the details in an effort to develop a broader picture.

Another difference is that, while both scholars take a critical approach to the Gospels, Meier is more skeptical about the basic reliability of the Gospels than Wright. This fact comes out in many of Meier’s decisions. Meier stands firmly in the historical-critical family of interpreters, and his methodology reflects that tradition at every level, including his choice of criteria. The problem, as Meier sees it, is to distinguish between oral tradition, creations of the early church, and what actually goes back to Jesus. Wright, on the other hand, presents convincing arguments against the idea that many of the Gospel narratives are the fictional creation of the early church or the evangelists.

Yet another difference is that Meier is much more meticulous and goes into much more depth than Wright in attempting to verify historical reliability of particular Gospel passages. Ironically enough, however, the results of Meier’s work could actually be used to strengthen the case for the historical reliability of the broader picture painted by Wright.
Finally, when Meier’s task is complete, we are left with an essentially minimalist view of Jesus, i.e. this is what we can reasonably believe about Jesus because it cannot be reasonably denied or explained away. If such skepticism and criteria were applied to other figures and events in ancient history, one must wonder if much of anything would be left. But the old skepticism and assured results of higher criticism have been weighed, by Wright and others, in the balances and found wanting. The hyper-critical model from which Meier’s work is descended has, in Meier, reached the limit of its usefulness. Wright, on the other hand, gives us not a minimalist view of Jesus but a view of what we can be reasonably sure of from a strictly historical perspective. He does this by proposing a hypothesis to answer five basic questions posed by the Third Quest and by applying pre-selected criteria to show how this hypothesis best incorporates all the data with the least distortion, dissection, or omission.

Although I have some rather significant disagreements with some of Wright’s interpretations, I think Wright’s view of the historical Jesus brings us much closer to the “real” Jesus than Meier’s and has great potential for further study.

[1] Following the Old Quest for the Historical Jesus and the New Quest for the Historical Jesus, the Third Quest is now underway. Although there is a wide variety of opinion about Jesus among those engaged in the Third Quest, the chief characteristic seems to be a desire to do serious historical study of Jesus within his first century historical and social context.
[2] John Meier. A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Vol. 1. (New York : Doubleday, 1991) 22.
[3] Ibid, 1.
[4] Ibid, 24.
[5] Ibid, 139.
[6] Ibid, 94.
[7] Ibid, 60-61. Meier’s reconstruction of what Josephus really wrote is as follows: “At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin. And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians (named after him) has not died out.” p. 61.
[8] Ibid, 68.
[9] Ibid, 167.
[10] Sayings or actions which would have been embarrassing to the early church and therefore, unlikely to have been made up.
[11] Sayings or actions which are unlikely to have come either from Judaism or from early Christianity.
[12] Sayings or actions which are attested in more than one independent source.
[13] Sayings or deeds which “fit well” with other facts about Jesus which have been established as historical.
[14] Sayings or deeds which offer good explanation for the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. Meier. Ibid. p. 168-177.
[15] Greek sayings in the gospels which show traces of having been translated from Aramaic.
[16] Sayings that reflect concrete social or political conditions of first century Palestine.
[17] Sayings which show “liveliness and concrete details especially when the details are not relevant to the main point of the story.”
[18] Excluding sayings which are strongly characteristic of the evangelists vocabulary and theology.
[19] The burden of proof is “on anyone who tries to prove anything”. Meier. Ibid. Vol. I. P. 178-183.
[20] Ibid, 168.
[21] Ibid, 214.
[22] Ibid, 216.
[23] Ibid, 219.
[24] Ibid, 229, 230.
[25] Ibid, 230.
[26] Ibid, 168, 278.
[27] Ibid, 281.
[28] Ibid, 282.
[29] Ibid, 331.
[30] Ibid, 317.
[31] Ibid, 345.
[32] Ibid, 347-348.
[33] Ibid, 407.
[34] John Meier. A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Vol. II. (New York : Doubleday, 1991) 27.
[35] Ibid, 40.
[36] Ibid, 46-47.
[37] Ibid,116.
[38] Ibid, 122. Meier’s judgment that Jesus was, for awhile, a disciple of John comes entirely from the Gospel of John which Meier, contrary to Wright, is willing to accept in to evidence if the pericopae under consideration can be verified by the criteria.
[39] Ibid, 176.
[40] Ibid, 241.
[41] Ibid, 289.
[42] Ibid, 337, 349.
[43] Ibid, 317.
[44] Ibid, 450-451.
[45] Ibid, 1044.
[46] Ibid, 630, 650, 653, 658, 678, 698, 706, 726, 773-775, 970,
[47] Ibid, 307.
[48] Ibid, 308
[49] Ibid, 214.
[50] William Whiston. The Works of Josephus. (Peabody, MA : Hendrickson, 1987) 466.
[51] Meier. Vol. II, 21-22.
[52] The idea that history can be told with complete objectivity and that we can have unquestionable knowledge about certain facts. N.T. Wright. New Testament and the People of God. (Minneapolis : Fortress Press, 1992) 32-34.
[53] The very skeptical position that the only thing I can be sure of is my own sense data. Wright. Ibid. 34.
[54] Ibid, 35.
[55] Ibid, 37.
[56] Ibid, 38ff, 46-80.
[57] N.T. Wright. Jesus and the Victory of God. (Minneapolis : Fortress Press, 1996), 16-82.
[58] Ibid, 84.
[59] Ibid, 89-113.
[60] Wright, NTPG, p. 98-109; Wright. JVG. 131-133.
[61] Wright, JVG, 132-133.
[62] Wright, JVG, 147.
[63] Wright, JVG, 167.
[64] Wright, JVG, 178.
[65] Wright, JVG, 538
[66] Wright, JVG, 538.
[67] Wright, JVG, 539.
[68] Wright, JVG. 610.
[69] Wright, JVG, 653.
[70] Wright, JVG, 636.
[71] Wright, JVG, 636.
[72] Wright, JVG, 516.
[73] Wright, JVG, 659.