HIS320: THE HISTORICAL JESUS with Dr Dennis Green, PhD
Offered: 2022 Term 2
Day and Time: This course begins on Wednesday 27 April 2022, 7:00-9:00pm, and meets for 5 consecutive weeks. The last session meets on Wed 25 May.
Location: EarthDiverse, 401 Anglesea Street, Hamilton Central, Hamilton (see map below under Location tab), on-line via Zoom, or through video recordings of our live-streamed sessions posted 1-2 days after each class.
Typically one tends to get an understanding of Jesus as presented from the standpoint of the Christian Religious tradition. Within this particular framework he is understood as the founder of Christianity. What, then, will happen when he is approached by an expert in Jewish history rather than Christian history? This course contextualises Jesus within the historical, cultural, religious and political framework of the late Second Temple Period from the standpoint of Jewish history. Thus we are attempting to understand an historical figure within a particular historical context using an historical, rather than a theological, methodology. We will re-immerse Jesus into this cultural, religious, and political environment—the environment in which he lived and died, and which, naturally, shaped his own religiosity and worldview.
PART I: INTRODUCTION AND METHODOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS:
Week 1: The “Historical Jesus”: What do we actually know?:
An introduction to the so-called “Quests for the Historical Jesus.” Our only sources are the four Gospels – but what exactly are the Gospels? Given that the Gospels are not biographical works, but rather theological works – is it really possible to scrape off the varnish of theology and see the historical person beneath? Questions of method. Historical claims, theological claims and comparative claims.
Week 2: A brief introduction to the late Second Temple Period:
The death of “Ancient Israel” and the birth of “Judaism.” Hellenistic philosophy meets Semitic theology, and thus, the foundations of the “Western world” are laid. The late Second Temple period was an era of rapid religious change and uncertainty, massive cultural clashes as well as unending political turmoil. But, as a result, it was also an era of religious creativity and diversity. It is within this context that Jesus will be evaluated.
Part II: THREE EXAMPLES OF “RE-IMMERSING” JESUS INTO THE JUDAISM OF HIS WORLD
Week 3: Bursting the bounds of conventional thought:
Matthew 22:34-40 – “The Greatest Commandment.” The Rabbinic concepts of Derekh Qetzarah, Klal and Klal Gedol. Succinctness of teaching, and fundamental and derivative laws. The “least of the commandments” and the “weightier matters of the law.”
Week 4: His great act of originality:
God the Universal Father, and Jesus His Son. The unpronouncable name of the Israelite Deity. Metonymic substitutions for “the Name.” One particular conceptualisation of the Israelite Deity in the Hebrew Bible, during the Second Temple period and by the later Rabbis.
Week 5: This pharisaical, hypocritical tendency in us all:
John 7:53 – 8:11 – “The Woman taken in adultery.” The story of Susanna (Daniel Chpt. 13). The Rabbinic concepts of Hatra’ah and moral relativity. Of law courts and mob lynchings. An attempted reconciliation of two irreconcilable Biblical ideals?
Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course.
Distance Learning: This course has distance-learning options for those unable to attend the live class sessions in Hamilton. Students have three options for attending our courses once they have registered:
- attend in-person classes in our Hamilton classrooms at the regularly scheduled day and time,
- attend our live on-line classroom sessions via Zoom at the regular scheduled day and time,
- watch the live-recorded class sessions at your leisure, at a time, day and place more suited to your schedule.
These options can be mixed and matched throughout the course to suit your own availability and location.
Dr Dennis Green, PhD
Dennis holds a PhD from the University of Waikato, and is a graduate of the Oxford Center for Postgraduate Hebrew and Jewish Studies. He lectured for 16 years for the University of Waikato’s Religious Studies Department. He has special interests in the Archaeology and Anthropology of the southern Levant, Iron Age Israelite history and the Second Temple Period of Jewish history. Apart from ongoing research, he is employed doing archaeological excavations in the greater Waikato area.
In addition to our in-person classes in Hamilton, our courses offer distance learning options for those unable to attend classes in-person. Live-streamed Hamilton classes are available via free Zoom software for those living outside the Waikato. Live-streaming allows you to participate fully in your own learning, ask questions of the instructor and participate fully in the same way as if you were in the physical classroom.
Those unable to attend the scheduled date and time of the actual class sessions, or those who need to miss a class or two due to previous engagements or unexpected illness, can watch any or all of the live-recorded video sessions on their computers, laptops, tablets or mobile devices and study at their own pace and in their own time.
Detailed instructions on how to access our distance learning components will be sent after completing your registration. There are no additional fees for this service. However, distance learners will need access to a desktop or laptop computer with a good quality web-camera (tablet devices and mobile phones can also access our live-streamed classes), a built-in microphone (most modern laptops have built-in microphones) or a headset with a microphone. You will also need to download and install the free Zoom software on your computer or device. Those accessing the video recordings will be able to do so with a simple web browser on any device.
- Detailed Syllabi are available at the start of each Term.
- Any Term can be taken independently of the others, and there are no prerequisites for any of the Term courses.
- This class has no assignments, required readings, quizzes, tests or exams.
- All classes encourage questions and group discussion.
- PDF copies of each class presentation are emailed to all participants the next day so that you are free to focus on class content rather than taking notes. You are most welcome to come, sit back, relax, take part in and enjoy the discussions!
- Course fees include a short tea/coffee/snack break in the middle of each session.
- There are no refunds for missed classes.
- Guests of registered participants are welcome to attend a single class at no charge.
- Certificates of Completion for any particular Term Course or Series are available for Professional Development purposes upon request at the end of each Term or Series.
Cost per person per Term (8 classes):
- Waged: NZ$100 (includes GST + online registration fee)
- Unwaged (unemployed, students, seniors): NZ$85 (includes GST + online registration fee)
Prices for Waged and Unwaged registrants remain the same regardless of your chosen method for accessing our courses. This means that you have the option to mix and match access between attending our regularly-scheduled live class sessions in our Hamilton classrooms, accessing our live class sessions on-line via Zoom at the regularly scheduled class meeting time (no matter where you are located), or watching the video-recorded sessions anywhere at a time and date of your choosing. This allows you to study at your own pace and in your own time.
Once registered, you have three choices for attending your course:
- attend our in-person class sessions in our Hamilton classrooms,
- Zoom in to our live classroom sessions and participate in discussions,
- access the live-recorded class sessions each week. This allows you to register for an entire course, even though the scheduled class session day/time may not be suitable to your schedule. You may also use this option to watch any recorded session for review, or in case you may miss a class session due to prior engagement, being away, or due to illness. This allows you to catch up with any “missed” sessions at a more suitable time.
Once registered, you will receive detailed instructions on how to access our courses via either of the distance-learning options, i.e. live access via Zoom, or watching the video-recorded sessions.
LOCATION: All in-person classes are held at the EarthDiverse offices and classrooms located at 401 Anglesea Street, Hamilton Central, Hamilton (located just north of the Hamilton Central Bus Station) (entrance is located on the side of the building, see map below). Those looking for parking for our evening classes can park just in front of the building in any of the available car parks. Daytime parking can be found in our dedicated car parks, or free 2-hour on-street daytime parking can be found just in front on Anglesea Street.
DISTANCE LEARNING: You get to choose your location when you Zoom in to our live classroom sessions, or access our classes at your leisure and at a time and day of your choosing by watching the video recorded sessions from each class. This allows you to study at your own pace.