The IBR Jesus Group has been meeting annually since 1999 to consider twelve key events in Jesus’ life for which the group thought it could show core authenticity and the combination of which made a case for what Jesus’ mission was about. The project also has introductory and concluding essays that were discussed.
Robert Webb and I have served as co-conveners. [The twelve events and the authors: John the Baptist and Jesus (Robert Webb), Choosing the Twelve (Scot McKnight), Exorcisms and Jesus’ Kingdom Teaching (Craig Evans), Sabbath Healings (Donald Hagner), Jesus’ Table Fellowship with Sinners (Craig Blomberg), Peter’s Declaration at Caesarea Philippi (Michael Wilkins), Entry into Jerusalem (Brent Kinman), The Temple Act (Klyne Snodgrass), The Last Supper (Howard Marshall), Jesus’ Examination by the Jewish Leadership (Darrell Bock), Jesus before Pilate and Crucifixion (Robert Webb), and Resurrection (Grant Osborne). Bob did the introductory essay, and I have the conclusion].
Each meeting consisted of a paper or two on an event. These papers ran for 30 to 75 pages each. An entire day was spent working through a paper (and its event) a line at a time asking how we as a group could make the piece stronger. A great deal of time was spent in the background that informs these events. Our goal was to play by historical critical rules and yet show how these events at their core stand up to scrutiny. In any given year we had at least six members attend.
Meetings were held in Chicago, Dallas, Tübingen, and Jerusalem.
Independent funding meant most expenses were met for participants, including wives on the overseas trips. Participants had previously to have written a piece from a historical Jesus perspective or done critical gospels work in order to be invited. All were IBR members. We think this model has potential for other areas of biblical study and the IBR.
So where is this project headed now? As I write the essays for the WUNT volume are being edited for publication with Mohr Siebeck. We hope to have the essays ready in time for a November 2009 publication.
An Eerdmans edition follows a year later. Our hope is that this work will be a solid contribution to the discussion of Jesus and will be a representative of the IBR’s contribution to the discipline. We hope you will help us get it into wide circulation with comment and reviews. We also had 8 TV shows filmed while we were in Israel to summarize our work for a popular audience. The organization doing the show (Day of Discovery and Radio Bible Class) has 2 million viewers a week on satellite. This is a new type of effort for them, as they normally do topics in a way that aims at the church or deal with those curious about the church. These programs will air starting in February up to Easter. We also hope (but have not yet finalized) a more popular book about this work and results, slated we hope for late 2010 or 2011. After taking 2009 off, the group is planning to return in 2010 and take up some key sayings in the same way to follow up what we have done. The work has been quite enjoyable but a real bonus of the effort has been the deep friendships that have resulted from this intensive type of collaboration.
Dec. 8, 2008