The Jesus Seminar is dead! The Jesus Project has come! Hail CSER! (Curiously, CSER, as I’ve discovered from the Jesus Dynasty blog, is being pronounced Ceasar.)
CSER, the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, has launched what they hope will be a more definitive Jesus of history/Jesus of mythology study.
Here’s an extract of a letter by Dr R. Joseph Hoffmann, the current head of CSER, explaining the "why" of the Jesus Project.
It should be stressed that the Jesus Project, contrary to some advance media speculation, is not an attempt to disprove the historical Jesus. By he same token, its goal is not to create a historically plausible figure from the bits of evidence available, but rather to assess the nature and weight of the evidence itself. Attempts in the 19th and twentieth century to discredit all elements of the gospel record were pronounced a failure, though largely by a theologically driven method of inquiry. The JP will solicit the skills of New Testament scholars, historians, and social scientists in its deliberations. It acknowledges the bias and partiality of previous efforts to address this question, but regards the question as significant and deserving of greater attention than has been given it in previous decades. The proliferation of new theories of the non-historicity of Jesus, whatever their merits, and defenses of the historical Jesus whatever their weaknesses, make this an important area of investigation in the new millennium.
What’s fascinating to me about the inauguration of the (yet another) Jesus Project is that it is shows the impossibility of leaving the subject of Jesus and Jesus’ historicity alone. Buddha seems not to have had this problem.
From Lee Strobel’s, "Case for Christ," to Earl Doherty’s, "Jesus Puzzle," to G. A. Wells’, "The Jesus Legend," from inquiries mythical to corporeal, from early Gnosticism to postmodern Christendom, Jesus remains something to be externally discoursed and internally engaged.
Will keep you posted on the JP. Hail CSER!