Timeline, from 2001 onward
Summary of the period
It is a bit too early to think about summarizing this century yet. Should Christ tarry, that task will fall to others.
Selection of events
Publication of Geza Vermes’ The Authentic Gospel of Jesus, in which he addressed head-on the inevitable implications for a critical scholar who assumes a two source solution to the synoptic problem and a sub-one-year ministry duration. He clearly articulated how, when exposed to a form critical approach such as that of Bultmann, such assumptions lead inexorably to the unpalatable conclusion that many of the gospel sayings attribute to Jesus were in reality invented by the Church. Vermes argued that Bultmann’s criteria, for establishing a saying as genuine, were overwhelmingly biased toward rejection. He therefore undertook a similar analysis, but on what he believed to be a fairer basis. Vermes wanted to discover the authentic message of Jesus which, he believed, now lay shrouded in the Church’s later accretions. He concluded that about four-fifths of the Sermon securely originated with Jesus and a further tenth was largely based upon his words (for more on Vermes’ analysis and the portions that he questioned, see the background on authenticity and genre). Further analysis, presented on this site, suggests that Vermes remained rather too ready to attribute sections to a later process of accretion.
Publication of Ulrich Luz’ commentary on Matthew 1-7. Luz, still working with the assumption that the Sermon was produced after 70 C.E., suggested that the governing structure of the Sermon on the Mount is a ring.
Initial publication of this web site at www.sermononthemount.org.uk in September 2009. This is by no means likely to be the most significant event in this period, but it was at least a milestone for its author. The site attempts to review prevailing views on the Sermon whilst presenting the plausibility of interpreting this teaching as a discourse on the Ten Commandments as they related to the Way of Righteousness that John the Baptist came to prepare. It challenges the assumption that the Sermon on the Mount, as a discrete unit, must have originated after 70 C.E. and through the accretion of discrete sayings, thereby demonstrating that it can, in its entirety, be seen as a genuine product of Jesus early ministry. From a critical perspective, it builds upon the steps already taken by Vermes, by considering historical, cultural, biblical, and literary contexts before arriving at its conclusions.