Aug 09 2012

August 2012 Newsletter

Published by under Newsletters

091011.SOFimageSea of Faith – Dunedin
Exploring Spirituality, Religion and Ethics
Newsletter August 2012


James Veitch PhD (Birm), ThD (ACT), FRSA.

Who did Jesus think he really was? 

Building blocks for a 21st century faith 


Who did Jesus think he was? 

 This question takes us back to Albert Schweitzer’s “The Psychiatric Study of Jesus” (1913) which put an end to the 19th century attempts to explore the question of who did Jesus think he was and to subsequent attempts to explore it for the next hundred years.

In 2011 Bas van Os brought psychology and biblical studies together when he wrote “Psychological Analyses and the Historical Jesus” – but even with this useful and insightful work in mind, a response to the question of who Jesus thought he was remains as elusive as ever.

We want to defend the Jesus of faith and church tradition, history, theology and liturgy, at all costs because the question of who Jesus – the historical Jesus – thought he was, threatens us, so we cannot answer without substituting a Jesus of Faith for a Jesus of History and claiming that the latter does not matter. We might even claim that we have no agreed academic methodology to excavate a Jesus of history from the Gospels so the task will always prove unproductive. The Jesus of the Gospels will always be the Jesus of Faith because there is no other Jesus. For the situation to be otherwise would be to undermine the faith of the church. Such a panic reaction has characterized much of twentieth century theology, biblical studies and Sunday preaching, and in the first decade of the twenty first century the panic has become even more pronounced.

This address will suggest that this panic need not be the case at all.

There is a Jesus of history that we need to reckon with whether we like it or not.

The circuit breaker is to reconstruct the New Testament along chronological lines (a proposal first made by the Scottish new Testament scholar James Moffat in 1901) and using insights generated more recently by Westar Institute scholars (better known as the Jesus seminar) in answering the questions what did the historical Jesus say and what did he do, to suggest answers to the question of who Jesus thought he was.

These answers will prompt the immediate question – so if this is the case, what now?

The address will conclude with some suggestions.


Jim Veitch 

Jim was formerly Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington until he transferred in 2006 to the Strategic Studies degree programme in the School of Government. He retired from Victoria University at the beginning of 2011 and joined the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at Massey University (Wellington Campus) where he teaches and coordinates courses in Security and Intelligence Studies. In addition to being a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts he is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and a Fellow of the Westar Institute (and has been a long time member of its Jesus Seminar). He holds the institute’s DF Strauss medal. He is an active Presbyterian Minister.


Lives Remembered 

Dr Roberta (Robbie) Highton passed away peacefully on 9th July 2012 whilst with family in England. She was 92.

She determinedly went to her grandson’s wedding in England, well knowing that she might not make it back to Dunedin.

Robbie qualified in England as a doctor and wanted to read Philosophy, but WWII intervened and so she served the desperate needs of the community and later came to Dunedin via Rotorua and worked in the chest Dept of Dunedin hospital before studying and practicing Psychiatry at Ashburn Hall.

She has been described as gentle, brilliant, thoughtful and accessible. She certainly brought out the best in others. She was a great activist for a fair society, for sustainability and for euthanasia, as he letters to the ODT attest.

Her husband Tom held the Chair in Rheumatology and that position is now held by their son John.

A number of us attended her Memorial at the Quaker Meeting House (which was packed) and her son Paul remembered a quote of his father’s… “when you die you go from the outside to the inside – you now hear her voice inside of us”.

She was a great friend of our Members and will leave a gaping hole in many hearts.


Our Last Meeting

Prof Tony Binns (Geography) has travelled widely in Africa and shared some of his experiences. He noted that the statistics do show improvements in many countries, despite the headline problems in many others. He showed us that many cities now produce 50% of their food needs within the city limits.


Newsletter Editor:

Alan Jackson

55 Evans Street



Ph: 473 6947


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