Flusser and the Historical Jesus

“David Flusser, an Orthodox Jew who teaches at the Hebrew University, has often related a true experience which shocked him.  He was lecturing in Germany before a group of Protestant theologians, some of whom served as pastors.  He described his work as a New Testament scholar researching the life and teachings of Jesus in Israel at the Hebrew University.  Flusser remarked that through a careful method of linguistic analysis and comparative study, the actual words of Jesus could be heard and understood.

One theologian present completely rejected Flusser’s comments.  He explained before the learned servants of the church that he had actually studied with Rudolf Bultmann himself.  The degree of reverence and awe which are accorded to Rudolf Bultmann in theological settings such as this must be appreciated to fully understand this story.  The room was hushed with revered silence.

The theologian continued with a polite way of telling the professor from Israel that he was absolutely mistaken.  The words of Jesus are forever lost.  No one can hear the voice of Jesus today.  In fact, in his extensive studies with Bultmann, they discovered that only one verse in the Gospels comes from Jesus.

Flusser was interested in this active exchange and scholarly interaction.  The reference to one verse aroused his curiosity.  Flusser asked the question, “Which verse actually goes back to Jesus?”

The theologian replied, “I forgot.”

–Dr. Brad Young

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