On Loving Luke Timothy Johnson


I just remembered why I love LTJ (cue awesome nickname) so much.  There are many reasons, of course.  His wit.  His unapologetic Catholicism (I mean really, how often do you meet a Catholic who isn’t apologizing for it?).  His teaching at a Methodist seminary (Candler at Emory).  His great little book The Creed, which I read for my theology class and still love.

But the main reason I love LTJ: this lecture, in which he skewers the Jesus Seminar.  Like many religion undergrads over the last 20 years or so, I was presented Jesus Seminar scholarship as if it was the latest and (by definition) greatest take on Jesus.  I smelled a rat but I couldn’t articulate it until Johnson ripped them a new one in a loving, scholarly, Christian way.  I first encountered that lecture early in seminary and I still love it.

On my viewing tonight, I noticed something that hadn’t struck me before: LTJ has serious issues with N.T. Wright’s scholarship.  This I did not know.  My own primary interest is not NT studies, and while I like N.T. Wright (and got to see him speak last year!) I can’t claim to have read any of his substantial works.

The debate seems to involve the nature of the historical discipline.  In this lecture, given at the National Cathedral a while back, Johnson indicates that he finds the Jesus Seminar less offensive than Wright.  While the Jesus seminar may be doing poor history, he says, the good Bishop does not “rise to the level of history.”  Interesting.  If only I had more time to read!

Watch the video and leave your thoughts below!

P.S. I almost forgot – LTJ’s Teaching Company courses are great too!


2 thoughts on “On Loving Luke Timothy Johnson”

  1. This lecture is a classic! Thanks to reminding us that it exists!

    I agree that LTJ is really quite incredible…his service, both to the academy and to the church, will be remembered for a long time.

    Through my conversations with him while I was at Emory, I was also very surprised to hear his opinions on NT Wright…in his opinion, ‘sloppy exegesis.’ I suppose I can agree at points, but I think he is maybe a little rough on Wright. One thing I can say is that Wright has a tendency to find a paradigm that he likes (exile, temple, etc.) and then interpret everything he finds in that light, which is not healthy.

  2. I need a web for LTJ and I cannot find one anywhere or his email. I would like to see him publish a piece attacking Bart Ehrman,s final exam hypotheticacl, as it appears on pg.268 of “J esus Interrupted”

    Please supply it if known because he can also do a great lecture on Ehrman,s final exam question.

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