Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Blasphemies of John Dominic Crossan

John Dominic Crossan is nothing if not provocative. I have commented on here before that agree or disagree with him, love him or hate him, he has raised the profile of Jesus scholarship over the last 30 years.

Crossan is intentionality provocative. He is this way because this is how he thinks of Jesus. A first-century Jewish peasant challenging the status quo. He is a former Catholic priest who grew up in Ireland and has experienced firsthand the negative effects of empire. He is used some of personal matrix as a paradigm for interpreting the teachings of Jesus.

Not everyone has held Crossan in esteem. In an article at CNN titled The Blasphemous Portrait of Jesus he notes that his first ever "fan letter" said "If well were not already created it should be invented just for you." Others have called him things like "demonic" or "blasphemous." Not exactly the kind of charitable, Christian talk one would expect from the followers of Jesus. But Crossan does describe himself as a Christian, much to the objections of his detractors. Here is what the article has to say about Crossan's stand on faith and being a Jesus scholar.

Crossan is also reviled in a way that few scholars are.

Some critics say he's trying to debunk Christianity. Some question his personal faith. At a college lecture, Crossan says an audience member stood up and asked him if he had "received the Lord Jesus" as his savior.

Crossan said he had, but refused to repeat his questioner's evangelical language to describe his conversion.

"I wasn't going to give him the language; it's not my language," Crossan says. "I wasn't trying to denigrate him, but don't think you have the monopoly on the language of Christianity."

When asked if he is a Christian, Crossan doesn't hesitate.


Crossan says he never planned to be a Jesus scholar but was drafted to play that role -- by the Roman Catholic Church.

The article gives an overview of Corssan's life and helps you to understand, perhaps just a little bit, where he is coming from. It is worth a read. As I said above, whatever you may think of John Dominic Crossan's schoalrship and conclusions, he was certainly made the field of New Testament studies a lot more exciting over the last 30 years.

1 comment:

  1. I actually like Crossan alot. I've had some personal interaction with him over email and he's a very kind person who indeed considers himself to be part of the "body of Christ". I have all his books and I do appreciate alot of his insights, and especially the way he was early to draw from cultural anthropology in HJ research. However, I'm just not so sure Crossan has had a lasting impact on the field (if there really even is a field for HJ studies these days). Many of his conclusions are just so radical, or based on such a disputed foundation, that they sort of just faded away within years of his major publications. His "open commensality" is about the only thing I saw other HJ scholars referencing in the subsequent years.