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Authenticating Criteria: The Use and Misuse of a Critical Method

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In this essay I analyse the usual (mis)use(s) of the criteria of historical authenticity in historical Jesus research. Whereas the general appeal to the criteria has pursued at least a semblance of objectivity in historical-critical research, in practice the criteria have provided useful and clearly identifiable windows into how scholars have conceived the task(s) of historical reconstruction (i.e., their particular subjectivity). After surveying the relevant literature, I question the analytical concepts authentic and inauthentic as schemata orientating historical reconstruction. We should recognize and employ the criteria as tools that facilitate and affect the interpretation of historical traditions rather than (merely) their authenticity.


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