Anthony Le Donne has written an article which you might find interesting,
The first interpreters of Jesus were not the evangelists, but his very first perceivers: his family, his adversaries, his followers, and his uncommitted audiences. These first contemporaries of Jesus set mnemonic patterns in motion that guided how later interpreters would bend these memories.
Last week a pastor friend of mine repeated a phrase that I have heard often among seminary trained folk: “The historical critical method is passé.” For the preacher and the spiritual educator, issues of date, source, historicity, et cetera are simply not as useful as the virtues of more synchronic approaches. Couple this with the growing number of scholars who have become disinterested in the questions and findings of diachronic approaches, and one might be tempted to affirm my friend’s assessment. Yet, resist though we may the tendencies of previous generations, we forget their advances at our peril.
Jim West, in response to this article, says,
Maybe it’s just my ingrained bultmannianism with its dash of strauss-ianity that makes me 99% skeptical of all such attempts, but I’m just not convinced that the Quest is worth the effort…
Really? Not worth the effort? Then what is the point of historical criticism? In my opinion, while the more liberal strands of historical criticism are aberrant, I am intrigued by Le Donne’s methods regarding the use of social memory. I think it is well worth the attempt, of course, it depends upon the goal too I reckon.