John P. Meier, «The Present State of the Third Quest for the Historical Jesus: Loss and Gain», Vol. 80 (1999) 459-487
Despite the questionable method and positions of the Jesus Seminar, the third quest for the historical Jesus has resulted in seven notable gains as compared with the old quests. (1) The third quest has an ecumenical and international character. (2) It clarifies the question of reliable sources. (3) It presents a more accurate picture of first-century Judaism. (4) It employs new insights from archaeology, philology, and sociology. (5) It clarifies the application of criteria of historicity. (6) It gives proper attention to the miracle tradition. (7) It takes the Jewishness of Jesus with utter seriousness.
philosopher4. Jesus is depicted by Crossan as a social revolutionary opposed to the powers that be, be those powers the priestly hierarchy in the Jerusalem temple or the larger patron-client network in the Roman Empire. An egalitarian feminist, Jesus sought to subvert the hierarchical structures of his day by welcoming one and all to table fellowship and by practicing magic as an alternative to the temple cult. The Seminar tends to deny any future-eschatological element in Jesus preaching of the kingdom. With future eschatology excluded, Jesus is seen to be calling his audience to open their eyes to the ever-present kingdom of God available to all in their human experience. The vaguely gnostic tone of this kerygma is not unrelated to the Seminars interest in the Coptic Gospel of Thomas.
In fairness, it should be noted that not all members of the Jesus Seminar share these views, and that some members are guided in their research by intense pastoral concerns. For instance, Dr. Marcus Borg, a distinguished member of the Seminar, seeks by his work to help lapsed Christians rediscover Jesus as a meaningful religious figure a desire reflected in the title of his book Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time5. Still, the Jesus Seminar as a whole has faced severe criticism for its methods and conclusions. Both the Cynic and the gnostic coloration of its portrait of Jesus are questionable on the grounds of dating of sources and historical context, and the wholesale elimination of future eschatology from Jesus message flies in the face of its widespread attestation in many different gospel sources and literary forms. Despite the Seminars protestations to the contrary, it has not avoided the temptation of projecting a modern American agenda onto a first-century Palestinian Jew6. It is no wonder, then, that some Catholic scholars in the