Today, a conference at S Stephen's House organised by Margaret Barker and in the area of Temple Studies. The topic was Melchizedek. And what a wonderful demonsrtration it was of the ephemerality of the Historic Jesus. I am old enough to rember feeling excited by Sammy Brandon's Che Guevarra Jesus of the 1960s and decidely less so by Geza Vermes's construction of the Jewish Holy Man Jesus. The Jesus we met today was a Jesus aware of his Divine, priestly, and kingly status; a Jesus whose perceived inner calling was to be Melchizedek. In fact, a Jesus very much like the Jesus whom we met in Professor Ratzinger's Jesus of Nazareth; particularly in the chapter on the sermon on the Mount where the Professor brilliantly exploits the work of the American Jewish Rabbi Jacob Neusner.
I'm not an advocate of being slavishly at the Cutting Edge of the Latest Theories on Christology, or, indeeed, of anything else. Most Cutting Edges are Bunkum. But just sometimes when you pull the lever of the one-armed bandit you do get that crash of cascading dubloons. I rather think that this is one such moment. Particularly if you read Margaret Barker and Joseph Ratzinger (his next volume is to be out soon) and Jacob Neusner and Laurence Hemming.
Thirty years ago when we were on a seaside holday my children discovered a machine in the amusement arcade which was paying out every time. Conscientiously, they milked it until it was dry. Are we in a phase a bit like that now?