Interesting interview. In future I do hope Robert Price has someone on like Bart Ehrman to debate the issue about whether Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet (which seems to be Ehrman’s position) or whether he was a wisdom prophet (as Miller implied that he and the Jesus Seminar had decided).
I’m somewhat familiar with Ehrman’s position, which seems to me convincing, and Miller did go through some intriguing evidence on the other side. A few small questions came up for me, however, in listening to him:
(1) A good deal of the anti-apocalyptic-prophet argument was put onto the “Q” document, which itself does not exist except in reconstruction. How much weight can we really give to a document which itself is something of a scholarly fiction?
(2) Miller at one point said that some of the argument against Jesus’s being an apocalyptic prophet was that his apocalypticism was so at odds with his more peaceable wisdom sayings. But this seems to me very thin beer; many present-day religious leaders typically make both kinds of statements all the time: statements of love and peace, and statements of hatred and conflict. It concerns me also that the wisdom interpretation could potentially be a whitewash. After all, the popular interpretation of present-day sainted figures like Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Lincoln have them as peaceable and wise figures, however we know that they had their share of controversial positions. Further, we know that apocalypticism was very much in the tradition of Jewish prophecy during that period.
So while there may be good scholarly evidence for the position that the historical Jesus was a pacifist wisdom prophet, I didn’t find the arguments that Miller put forward for it terribly persuasive. I’d like to hear more, and a back-and-forth might be illuminating.
I had the same feeling. As for Q, I was thinking that since Q is not an ordinary gospel per se, and it’s a collection of sayings, then it’s obviously quite limited. If we’re going to ditch everything that’s not to be found in Q, well, then I guess that’s going to be quite a bit. For all I know, Q is simply a collection of what some people thought was worthwhile to keep irrespective on his other opinions.
Another thing is that Paul, quite independently of Mark certainly expected the world to end (hence his position on marriage, which would be even more ludicrous if he didn’t expect the end).
It has to be said though, that an interview like this can’t go too deep, and there may be other good reasons for this view, but I got the distinct feeling that there’s some image improving going on.
In any case, I’m happy with the subject, and would like to see more on critical theology.