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‘The Duty of Discontent’: Some Remarks on Pieter F. Craffert’s The Life of a Galilean Shaman: Jesus of Nazareth in Anthropological-Historical Perspective*

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This essay commends Pieter Craffert’s book “The Life of a Galilean shaman” as an important contribution in the field of Jesus studies. At the same time it reveals that Crafferts attempt to identify Jesus as a Galilean shaman is problematic, particularly considering the enigmatic nature of the category “shaman.” Western discourse on shamanism tends to contain an unwelcome mix of exoticism, alienation, and fascination; transferring this model to the life of Jesus is in danger of applying anachronistic and ethnocentric notions to the historical Jesus, not to mention the difficulties involved in verifying the supposed treatment of shamanic ASC-experiences in the New Testament texts. Although Crafferts new methodological approach of “anthropological historiography”, independent of the shamanism thesis, deserves scholarly attention, his employment of it shows an all too rigid, and ultimately counterproductive, rejection of classic historical-critical scholarship.

Affiliations: 1: Augustana – Theologische Hochschule der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche in Bayern (Translated by Stephen Hamilton)


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