The New Testament: Its Apostolic Foundations & the Significance of 70
The answer to the question of the “historical Jesus” is intricately tied to the question of the New Testament. The bulk of our knowledge about the person of Jesus comes from the New Testament; for this reason, the New Testament must become the principal object of analysis to answer the more fundamental question: who was Jesus of Nazareth?
God chose to communicate with mankind in human language, which by necessity is deeply shaded by the personality, culture, and time of each sacred author. The sacred authors inevitably wrote as people of their own time for their own time while communicating the truths that God wished to be written. Accordingly throughout history any attempt to understand and learn these truths has required that the Church “journey back” to the world of the sacred authors to truly understand Sacred Scripture.
Jesus of Nazareth: Liar, Lunatic, Lord—or Historical Victim?
A student at a Catholic university—if it faithfully abides by Pope Leo XIII’s Aeterni Patris and Cardinal Newman’s The Idea of a University—will constantly be informed that modern philosophy has committed “crimes of reason.” This philosophical shift, a consequence of a movement borne in a period called “the Enlightenment,” has tremendously affected all the other disciplines of academia, particularly the natural and social sciences. This reflects my own experience and how I was educated to think.
Yet this bad philosophy that has pervaded all of academia was largely unexamined in how it affected Christian theology in my academic experience. Certainly, we took notice of its more self-evident effects; the most obvious being the work of dissenting theologians supporting women’s ordination, who didn’t believe in Hell, who argue for the moral legitimacy of artificial contraception, and so forth—in other words, manifestations where the underlying philosophy is clearly not Catholic—but there never was any exhaustive attempt to uncover how “bad philosophy” has infiltrated Christian theology. In many ways, the question was addressed, but only in broad strokes at points where the question at hand was not the focal point. In other words, this question was addressed insofar as it can be by talking about it considering another perspective or point of interest. It was not addressed for me except by a sole professor by the name of Fr. Robert Barringer, to whom I am deeply indebted.