The Next Quest for the Historical Jesus is a conference and larger project run by James Crossley and Chris Keith. The conference will be both virtual (11 July) and hybrid (15–16 July), with the in-person event happening at the Higgins Art Gallery & Museum/Panacea Museum, Bedford.
The organisers argue that the quest for the historical Jesus has stagnated in the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, the Next Quest project accepts two recent developments in the field. It accepts that the criteria of authenticity and other attempts to get "behind" the Gospel texts have been largely unsuccessful. It accepts that celebrated debates about Jesus's Jewishness have largely updated older anti-Jewish tendencies in historical Jesus scholarship. Building on these developments, the Next Quest is a statement about where historical Jesus studies can go from here, and essentially an answer to the question, "What's next?"
For participants, the overarching aim of this project is that the Next Quest for the historical Jesus will be characterized by innovative approaches to established topics and innovative approaches to topics ignored in previous quests, or at least by their most prominent representatives. This is not, then, a claim to unparalleled newness. Indeed, the organisers and participants stress that the Next Quest will bring to the fore older (and recent) scholarship that was marginalised and overlooked in previous quests for the historical Jesus.
The Next Quest for the historical Jesus will move beyond searching for an uninterpreted reality “behind” the texts and hypothesize the historical Jesus by means of the cultural and historical processes by which particular images of Jesus were produced and transmitted. With this in mind, participants will look at a number of areas which have potential to revitalise mainstream historical Jesus studies, including (among many others): the social history of scholarship, reception histories, “religion” as a human phenomenon, networks, fame and aura, ancient media, scribalism and memory, the world of slavery, class conflict in pre-modern societies, materialist conceptions of history, violence and trauma, the body, omissions and silences, and how early ideas about Jesus interacted with ancient constructions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. And, in line with CenSAMM’s aims, the project will look at the cross-cultural phenomenon of millenarianism and think about how millenarianism has functioned in pre-modern agrarian societies.
The Next Quest for the Historical Jesus will foundationally be a curious quest, a broader quest, a wide-open quest, and one that explicitly links Jesus studies to innovative approaches to Christian origins and the Humanities generally—and brings it up-to-date as a subfield within them both.
Conference participants include: Giovanni Bazzana, James Crossley, Tucker Ferda, Paula Fredriksen, Deane Galbraith, Mark Goodacre, Meghan Henning, Nathan Johnson, Brandon Massey, Chris Keith, John Kloppenborg, Halvor Moxnes, Robert Myles, Gideon Wongi Park, Janelle Peters, Taylor Petrey, Adele Reinhartz, Rafael Rodriguez, Sarah Rollens, Nathan Shedd, Mitzi Smith, Joan Taylor, Matthew Thiessen, Robyn Walsh, Matthew Whitlock, Sean Winter, Stephen Young
ZOOM REGISTRATION NOW AVAILABLE
- Part I (virtual only): 11 July, 12noon–5.30pm (UK time), https://tinyurl.com/szruyth9
- Part II (hybrid): 15–16 July, 10am–5pm (UK time), https://tinyurl.com/5x2jj75c
Upcoming events both livestreamed on the Enoch Seminar’s Facebook page.
The conference is sponsored by CenSAMM, the Enoch Seminar, and Eerdmans Publishing.