[Rector]

Jesus the man

 

Some years back Dr. Barbara Thiering published her book "Jesus the Man. A New Interpretation from the Dead Sea Scrolls." Her publisher said of the book, "she provides a radically different history of the life of Christ which sweeps away the miraculous and superstitious elements associated with the origins of Christianity."

The Dead Sea Scrolls suggest to Barbara Thiering that the four gospels and the Acts of the apostles were written at two levels. The surface level provides a simplified and often symbolic description designed to satisfy those who need the supernatural as an element of their faith. The second level, concealed within, depicts the actual events and their real significance. So, according to Dr. Thiering, Jesus was not born of a virgin in the strictly literal sense and did not perform miracles. He was crucified for his beliefs, but did not die on the cross. Reviving in the burial cave, he lived on to marry Mary Magdalene and father a family. His resurrection "appearances" evidenced that he remained with his disciples in their ongoing work. "Sometimes in seclusion, sometimes in the world, he directed their movements, through successive representatives, or in person."

Dr. David Peterson, a lecturer at Moore Theological College in Australia, wrote a short paper on her book. Here are just some of David's observations.

Her argument has no support from others working in the field. Most of her theories have already been published and heavily criticized. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, commenting on her published work on the Dead Sea Scrolls said that it demonstrated "her uncritical acceptance of opinion, however subjective, that fits into her theory and her preference for unjustified assumptions."

Her dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls is a major problem for her theory. The Qumran community existed in the desert beside the Dead Sea. Historians date the community between 135 and 76BC. Barbara has Jesus and John the Baptist as members of the community. Her approach to the New Testament in arbitrary. Her interpretation is far-fetched and often bizarre. Her anti-supernatural presuppositions control her approach. She sets out to explain the New Testament in naturalistic terms.

David suggests that "only those who have made up their minds to believe anything instead of the New Testament will be taken in by her work."