Saturday, December 28, 2013

Jesus Comes Up for Tenure

Jesus comes up for tenure, after his probationary period of doing "miracles," saying wise things, etc. An effective tenure committee report would go as follows:

0. A summary statement, indicating the strengths and weaknesses of the case. And a preview of the committee's judgment.

0.1 A brief statement of Jesus's background, where and how he was born, his professional life as a carpenter, and his emergence as a public figure. A discussion of the Personal Statement, indicating its straightforwardness, its focus on actual achievements, and its lack of hyperbolic claims. Moreover, there is a commitment to continuing performances in the strongest venues (he has several agents and they have booked him for the next few years). And, teaching is integrated into his performing. 

1. Jesus's achievements, much as they are described in the Apostolic Gospels. Miracles, cures, sayings, etc.

2. A careful review of the Hebrew Bible indicating how Jesus fulfils its requirements. How Jesus is surely a prophet, and it would seem that he is the prophet we have been waiting for for centuries.

3. A review of the letters:
--those from the Apostles and the cured,
--those from the Romans who are concerned that he is a troublemaker and rabblerouser,
--and those from some of the Pharisaic rabbis who have their doubts.

4. There would be a discussion of previous potential stars and how they did not work out. There would be a discussion of the rabbis' doubts. The denial case would be made a strong as reasonable, including how Zealotry is the current fashion and it's not so clear it tells us anything.

5. Then there would be a sensible statement about why the doubts and negatives are not probative.

6. And this point, the committee shows its hand.

A. Jesus should be tenured. So far, he has more than fulfilled the our expectations: important performances in the best venues, great teaching (in fact, extraordinary, much better than we would expect from a performing artist), and as a plus fine service in the community. He does it all. Jesus is a potential super-star.
     As for the evidence, the positives are not readily explained away or dismissed. The letters from the Romans and the rabbis would seem to be defending their own interests, little concerned with Jesus' actual achievements. There are some disturbing negatives, such as no published writing in the form of theology. But there are the widely praised performances, and the Apostles are writing up his teachings. Jesus' teaching is outstanding and becoming nationally recognized, with Saul of Tarsus widely promoting Jesus' work. And the reviews of his performances are extensive and detailed and positive.
      There is much promise here, the trajectory is upward, and Jesus is likely to attract other strong figures to our institution.The case is not marginal, and the society will be better off were Jesus tenured. There are now three offers outstanding, from Babylon, Athens, and Alexandria, peers or better to Jerusalem, and if we do not act decisively, we shall lose him to our competitors.

B. Regrettably Jesus is not tenurable. While Jesus is surely prophet-like, we have seen many other such candidates. There is little originality here. There is no particular evidence for the claimed miracles, and the claimed similarities with the Bible are found in many young men. Moreover, the Apostles' letters are not at all balanced, and are not arms-length. (For example, the virgin birth is scientifically impossible. We have no reason to credit Mary's claims as related by the Apostles.)
     We do not find the Romans' concerns to the point, since it would appear that Jesus is not trying to make trouble, and is merely doing what he feels is appropriate. As for the doubts of the rabbis, they are warranted, but again they are again not balanced, and reflect their desire to retain their status. 
     Our judgment is based on the evidence and the lack of decisive information. Other institutions may well be willing to risk incorporating Jesus for the next forty years. But there are other peers who are plausible prophet-professors (a term like "student athletes"). We do not have the information we need to view Jesus as the paramount performer we would want to join our institution.

Jesus is worthy, but not worthy of Jerusalem.

Note that at this point, the Hebrew-in-charge, the dean, need not make any excuses for the report.

So now we have the first dean's response to the report, here the positive report.

The supposed outside offers are not credible.  An academy in Babylonia
is still a dream.  His knowledge of Greek is too unsophisticated for Alexandria,
let alone Athens, and he knows none of the philosophers.

His scholarship is minimal, though creative, but he has published
nothing.  He is an inspiring teacher, and students from his school (if not
his direct students) have published based on his work.  To decide on tenure
we must be clear whether we are to become a teaching college or will
remain a research university. After all, our namesake wrote five books to get

But then the provost is visited by various folks who point out Jesus is one of those faculty who lead a school of thought, who by their oral traditions have enormous influence [as will the rabbis' centuries later], and a great university can afford to have some extraordinary faculty.

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