Baker Academic

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Jesus Conference Roster: Ruben Zimmermann—Chris Keith

The 2016 Memory and the Reception of Jesus in Early Christianity conference in the Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible at St Mary's University will feature a paper from Ruben Zimmermann entitled, "Memory and Jesus' Parables."

Ruben is Professor of New Testament Studies at Johannes Gutenberg-Universitaet Mainz.  For several years now, he has led major research projects on characterization, ethics, parables, and other topics, producing massive edited volumes, including the Kompendium der Gleichnisse Jesu.  Several years ago, I heard Ruben give a fabulous paper at the SBL.  It was, for me, the best paper I heard that year, and it was, I think, in the John, Jesus, and History session.  Ruben was arguing for the inherently hermeneutical nature of evaluating historical "sources."  Someone in the audience took him to be claiming that there was no such thing as just "raw evidence."  That's not exactly what he was claiming, but the questioner then thought that he had stumped Ruben by saying, "What about archaeological evidence?"  I remember Ruben's response verbatim:  "Have you ever heard stones speak?"  His point, of course, was that all evidence, including archaeological evidence, requires interpretation.

Ruben has mainly published in German, but just this past year, Fortress published (what I believe is) his first English book, Puzzling the Parables of Jesus: Methods and Interpretation.  I haven't read this yet.  I'm supposed to be reviewing it for a journal and they have yet to send the book.  But I've heard great things about it and am eagerly anticipating it, not the least because he supposedly take a "memory approach" in it.  This study will undoubtedly inform his presentation, and I'm told that he will engage critically with John P. Meier's recent volume of A Marginal Jew, which similarly focuses upon parables. 

If you'd like to hear Ruben's paper and then drink a beer with him at dinner, join us at the conference by registering here.

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