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Why Such Diversity Exists, and the Criteria of Authenticity

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Why do so many different scholars have such different views of Jesus? There actually is more similarity than at first is expected, but the differences are due to things such as scholar’s presuppositions. What then are the criteria for accepting a historical document as authentic?



A. Many parts of many portraits complementary

Often an anti-supernatural bias

B. Presuppositions and ideological commitments

1. “Only that which liberates can be accepted” (e.g., feminism)

2. Final judgment

C. Starting points and central points

Violence of non-violence?

D. Which portions of Gospel tradition are accepted?

E. Burden of proof (“benefit of the doubt”)

F. Religious parallels


A. Traditional

1. Multiple attestation

2. Double dissimilarity

3. Coherence

4. Palestinian environment

B. Recent Proposals

1. A Continuum approach (double similarity)

2. Double dissimilarity and double similarity

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