XIII-1 - Jésus dans l'histoire - Enjeux théologiques et pastoraux (2008)

Revue des Facultés de Théologie et de Philosophie


Michel Deneken - Dogmatic elaboration and searching for Jesus

Indispensable as it may be to the formulation of Christian belief, historical investigation show itself to be insufficient in the comprehension of the unique nature of Jesus Christ. The uniqueness of Jesus Christ does not arise only from his Jewish roots, but just as much from the recognition, by the Christian community, of the Revelation which he incarnates, and of the Tradition which he founds. For this reason, however necessary they may be, the successive searches for the historical Jesus cannot account for the mystery of the incarnation that founds Christian faith and the elaboration of the teachings of the Church which testify this faith. Dogma does not speak about Jesus, but from him ; indeed, he who the Church affirms to be true God and true man is no one other than Jesus of Nazareth.

Xavier Durand - Jesus, the encounter of the historian and the believer

A believer could be discouraged by the changing and contradictory results of historical research on Jesus. Insofar as he respects the movement of historical research and the movement of faith's progress, he can, in recent research, hope to find some new expressions in order to live all of the dimensions of Christian existence : faith, hope and charity. Based on three fields of study in the history of Jesus which are constantly being re-worked : the ministry in Galilee, the double recognition of Jesus as a prophet and as a wise man, the failure signified by the death on the cross, it is proposed to regard what can attract the believer in these new perspectives and also how he places himself in the movement of his time.

Elian Cuvillier - Jesus of history and Christ of faith - A few guidelines

The article discusses the question of the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith from the viewpoint of historico-critical exegesis. Six points are handled successively. First, a brief summary of the history of research from the 18th century to the present reminds us of the contingent, and therefore inevitably temporary, nature of all research. Secondly, a review of the principal sources used to reconstruct the historical personage of Jesus sends us back to the four gospels as the principal, if not the unique, source of the investigation. In the third place are presented the foremost criteria which permit us to pronounce ourselves, though always provisionally, on the ipsissima verba of Jesus. The last three points address three classical questions in the debate on the historical Jesus : his activity as a thaumaturgist, his relation to the Torah, and lastly the question of his resurrection. In conclusion, we are reminded that if the historian can legitimately question himself on the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth, and establish their effects on history, the knowledge of Jesus as Christ does not depend on scholarship, but on a confession of faith.

Pierre Gire - Philosophy confronting the Christ

In the history of occidental philosophy, there exists a philosophical Christology, as philosophers' texts attest. The analysis of those texts brings into view some models of conceptualization of the person of Christ. These models show the complexity of philosophy's critical interrogation when confronting the Christ. This interrogation reveals the development of a process of symbolization freed from the historical context of Christ, of exegetic understanding, and of dogmatic affirmation in the Church. The philosophical effort to symbolize gives rise to a few anthropological, cosmological and soteriological risks in the relation to Christ. It remains that philosophy finds itself confronted to that concealed aspect of the person of Christ that is enigmatic: the uniqueness of the man/God, and the scandal of the Cross.

Jacques Schlosser - Rigor and intuition in historical research on Jesus

After establishing the legitimacy of a specifically historical research into Jesus, I offer a panorama of the historical problems and methods involved, profiting from the vitality of historical studies in France during the twentieth century. As far as the sources are concerned, I remain skeptical about the recent promotion of apocryphal texts, and I maintain that a privileged place must be given to the synoptic Gospels and to their sources, in view of the importance of the data they contain. It has become more difficult today to trace texts back to Jesus, because of new perspectives on the complex phenomenon of tradition. Although we can no longer indulge in the rather naïve literary criticism of the past, this does not mean that we must abandon the textual analysis which seeks to uncover the oldest form of our texts. A considerable amount of scholarly attention has been devoted to the criteria of authenticity. The once dominant criterion of double dissimilarity has been subject to much criticism in a number of recent publications, but it should probably not be abandoned altogether. In the interpretation of what seems the central element in the preaching of Jesus, viz. his message about the kingdom of God, the contemporary consensus about the full integration of Jesus into Judaism entails a risk, since there is a tendency to accord more weight to a general system which is well attested in common Judaism than to the analysis of the patterns of the Gospels as a whole. This does not seem to be the best way to resolve the fascinating tension between constraints and liberty.