Friday, March 30, 2007

"Haight" Speech: Part 3

This is Part 3 in my series listing some of the more noteworthy statements in Roger Haight's book Jesus Symbol of God. Also see Part 1 and Part 2.


p. 58: The historian seeks to interpret Jesus within the context of the relationships that constituted the world of Jesus during his lifetime. [. . .] The historian seeks to transcend his or her present context in order to grasp Jesus precisely as having existed in another context. [. . .] The theologian, by contrast, seeks to draw Jesus forward and understand him within the context of the present situation.

p. 63: A symbol, it was said, is something that communicates by pointing to something else. In a religious symbol, like the kingdom of God, that "something else" is transcendent or other-worldly, is not known directly or objectively, but only by faith and hope, and always through some historical symbol. The symbol mediates the object of faith. The kingdom of God as used by Jesus was such a symbol, and one should understand Jesus' language here as religious and symbolic language.

p. 64: Jesus is not therefore to be understood as predicting an event of which he had direct knowledge, and which would happen at a certain time or in a certain way. Rather he is expressing the conviction that God will act for human salvationa nd that God's action is even now ready to occur, however it will happen concretely.

p. 66: In sum, the centering characteristic of Jesus as a religious figure in first-century Palestine was his prophetic preaching of the kingdom of God for the restoration of Israel. This provides the framework for interpreting him; other aspects of his story would be integrated into this one.

p. 79: Instead of making first-century Palestine the horizon of interpretation, this presentation is influenced by today's situation and the question of salvation and human liberation as it is experienced today. But at the same time it deals with Jesus.

p. 81: The New Testament says that Jesus spoke with authority. One could infer this from the emergence of the Jesus movement. Jesus made an impact on people; he was remembered as one who had authority. But authority in religious matters is ultimately mediational; it is the ability to disclose and mediate the authority of God or ultimate reality in one way or another.

p. 82: It is most difficult to determine what exactly the events behind any given miracle story were. They are undoubtedly embellished, and in some cases created later to make a point about how Jesus was perceived by faith. The particular historicity of the events behind the miracle stories is simply not known. But this is not really important.

p. 86: The quest for the historical Jesus is not and will never be conclusive. Despite this historical inconclusiveness, the quest is important as a corrective of manifestly false interpretations of Jesus, and as a stimulus of a concrete historical imagination relative to his person. But the theologian must move beyond the quest, because, after the most adequate historical reconstruction has been accomplished, the theologian still must interpret Jesus for our time.

More to come as I find the time...

Pax Christi,


  1. Sounds like this guy would make a good candidate for the Jesus Seminar.

  2. Actually, no. If you read the first quote from p. 58, he is briefly defining the role of the historian in comparison to the role of the theologian. He considers himself a theologian, not a historian. So, his task is not to transcend his present experience and enter into the past, but to gain entrance to the past via historical research and bring Jesus forward into our present experience. He is seeking to understand Jesus in light of our postmodern world.

    That is quite different from what the Jesus Seminar is doing, although the theologian must depend on work like theirs in order to accomplish his task.

  3. Well its bad theology and bad history. Please tell me your class is making it clear that these teachings are heretical.

  4. Yes, are professor is showing us what is wrong with Haight's Christology. He had us read three books before we started on this one, so that we would be equipped to intelligently respond to Haight's book.

    See this post:

  5. Ahh ok I missed that one. It makes sense now. Sounds like a lot of fun!

  6. yea, i dig this class immensely. it's one of the best classes i've ever taken here. believe it or not, haight's book is a joy to read too. i definitely don't agree with a lot of his methodology, hermeneutical principles, and his conclusions--but his presentation is totally systematic, and scholarly, and well-written. he explains himself very well.


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