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Historical Jesus by Thomas Sheehan

Historical Jesus

Stanford Course - REL 15

by Thomas Sheehan

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  4.3  Stars Based on 6 ratings


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

What did the man Jesus actually think of himself and of his mission, as contrasted with the 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—whether conducted by Jews, Christians, or non-believers—has arrived at a strong consensus about what this undeniably historical figure (born ca. 4 BCE, died ca. 30 CE) said and did, and how he presented himself and his message to his Jewish audience. Often that historical evidence about Jesus does not easily dovetail with the traditional doctrines of Christianity. 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 discuss methodologies for interpreting that evidence, in order to help participants make their own judgments and draw their own conclusions.

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a very exciting history podcast
Reviewer AnneTheMan
 December 18, 2007
Theology Professor Thomas Sheehan takes us in ten 90 minute lectures through the intricacies of text analysis and the historical reception and development of the stories about Jesus in order to dissect what has been added and what presumably is authentic fact. Even though the pretense is a course in history, the implied theology imposes itself. Nevertheless a very exciting history podcast.


Some good, some bad... mixed feelings
Reviewer maoparaiso
 November 16, 2007
I listened to the course and I have mixed feelings about the content. It's not the subject or all the controversy that it brings but mainly the way it's presented. Professor Sheehan seems to be out to prove a personal point of view and not to present the subject from a neutral schollar point of view that would present facts, possibilities and allow the audience to take their conclusions. Remarks are biased most of the time and many remarks are clearly prejudiced. He addresses without respect all comunities of fate from judaism, christians and muslims using terms like dumb etc. He also provides plain wrong information about some events (like the persians being final defeated by the greeks in thermopylae???). Most of the conclusions on this course are not backed up by facts and seem to me many times much more a matter of personal opinion on very uncertain facts than a high level scholar presentation on the subject.

Reviewer Bruce_Mackinlay
 July 07, 2007
I listened to the whole course and went and purchased the books. Thomas Sheehan presents a strong case for (1) that the Christian Religion has become something that Jesus of Nazareth would have opposed just as he opposed the institutionalized religions of the first century and (2) the persecution of the Jews by the Christians is an complete counter to the very core of Jesus of Nazareth message. In the modern world Jesus's message is just as relevant as it was in the first century. His message is probably the most radical message of any religion. We all need to learn to sit down and break bread with anyone. I am not a member of any Religious sect or dogma.

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