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On February 28, 2002, John Dominic Crossan gave a very well-organized and entertaining presentation for the Annual Mary Olive Woods Lecture and was well received by the large audience. His talk should spark continued interest in who is likely the most influential person ever to walk the earth. He condensed three lectures into one as he spoke of the materials, methods, and results of his historical research into the life of Jesus. The materials mentioned were the canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. (Although throughout his research, Crossan relies very heavily on other texts such as the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Thomas, he did not mention these as material resources; see related comments below.) The bulk of his talk focused on the methods, in which he described an idealized version of what an anthropologist, an historian, and an archeologist would have to say about the early First Century Palestine, especially Galilee, if they knew nothing of the four gospels. The results are the ideas that Jesus taught primarily about the kingdom of God and used that as a basis for nonviolent resistance to the Roman Empire. The primary ministry of the historical Jesus is that of a social reformer, with political overtones. Pilate saw the threat that Jesus posed to the authority of the Romans, and had him executed because of that threat. Jesus brought “sociosomatic” healing to individuals, and encouraged his companions (not disciples) to do likewise. For an idea of what Crossan has in mind when he speaks of sociosomatic healing, think of the maturation of the main character in Good Will Hunting. With humor and a lively presentation, Crossan provided much useful and interesting information in his lecture and the discussion that followed.
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