Historiographical Methods and Biblical Christology (I)

A second reading assigned in my Christology class is Roch A. Kereszty’s Jesus Christ: Fundamentals of Christology.:”(New York: Society of St. Paul, 2002.)”: This is turning out to be quite a thought-provoking book, not least of which because Father Kereszty (O. Cist.) accepts a number of principles of biblical and historical criticism which would instantly set off just about every Evangelical seminarian’s “error” alarms–and yet, he retains a fully committed faith in the integrity of the biblical and ecclesiastical witness to the truth of Christ’s claims.

Among the principles which many Evangelicals would instantly reject are (1) a thoroughgoing anti-Modern understanding of what “historical facts” are and how historians encounter them,:”(Ibid., pp. 15-19.)”: (2) a refusal to try to harmonize the Gospels,:”(Ibid., pg. 21.)”: but instead an acceptance that they contain actual contradictions, (3) a rejection of “a naive fundamentalist realism” regarding the post-resurrection appearances of the Lord,:”(Ibid., pg. 65. Father Roch even states, contrary to many Fundamentalist and Evangelical apologetic arguments, that “it would be ludicrous to ask if the piece of baked fish that Christ ate in the Lukan appearance scene [24:42-43] was actually digested by him.” [pg. 66].)”: and (4) a form of theistic evolution.:”(Ibid., pp. 70-71.)”:

And yet, I repeat, Father Roch retains a fully committed faith in the integrity of the biblical and ecclesiastical witness to the truth of Christ’s claims. On the first page of the book, Father Roch states,

Theology, and in particular, Christology, is not a mere mental construct based on a number of dogmatic definitions (even less on consensus statements of biblical scholars) but intellectual reflection on the reality of the crucified and risen Christ who lives in His Church…

Likewise, after surveying and rejecting the various Liberal “Quests for the Historical Jesus,” Father Roch reports “I accept as normative this full apostolic witness to Christ, as it is embodied in the whole New Testament…”:”(Ibid., pg. 21.)”: Furthermore, even when the most rigorous of historical-critical methods are applied to the Scriptures,

the historical facts we can recover about Jesus present us with a puzzle that resists all conventional explanations. We are unable to squeeze him into the straitjacket of the general categories of the history of religions. Jesus is not simply an itinerant rabbi, a charismatic wonder worker, or a prophet. The uniqueness of his teaching and the events that immediately followed his death call for an interpretation which history in and of itself cannot provide.

These and other remarks throughout his early methodological discussions reveal a concern for relating faith and reason in a way that does not downplay or damage either. Father Roch seems to see the biblical materials as “preparations for faith.” There is no “universally verifiable” historical case for the truth claims of Jesus Christ, but there is a hope for salvation that is rooted deeply in history and which, although it can only be fully appreciated occulata fide (“with eyes made perceptive through faith”):”(Ibid., pg. 67.)”: nevertheless leaves all skeptical reconstructions of “the historical Jesus” in the dust.

[Continued in Part II]

This entry was posted in Theology-Christology, Theology-Soteriology, Writing History. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>