Lecture Eleven Jesus and the Gospels

Scope: The nature of the Christian Gospels as witnesses and interpretations of Jesus after his death (and resurrection) offer us at best an indirect and second-hand look at the religious experience of this Jew of Galilee. We cannot recover the "historical Jesus," but we can draw some broad inferences concerning the Jesus of the Gospels from the judicious use of the deeds, sayings, and traits ascribed to him by those narratives. Among these are his prophetic consciousness; his sense of an intimate relationship with the God of Israel that expressed itself in a remarkable confidence in his power to heal and in a freedom to transgress social and religious expectations; his radical devotion to the "will of God" expressed by celibacy, poverty, and itinerancy; and his characteristic posture of self-donative service.

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