Barbara Thiering

Barbara Thiering

Overview
Barbara Thiering is an Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n nonfiction writer, historian, and Biblical exegete specialising in the origins of the early Christian Church. In books and journal articles, she challenges Christian orthodoxy
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, drawing on claimed new evidence that gives alternative answers to its supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 beliefs. Her analysis has been rejected by many scholars in the field.

Born in Sydney, Australia, Thiering graduated in 1952 from Sydney University with first class honours in modern languages, was a high school teacher of languages for several years, and then, while caring for her three young children, continued study and research privately.
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Encyclopedia
Barbara Thiering is an Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n nonfiction writer, historian, and Biblical exegete specialising in the origins of the early Christian Church. In books and journal articles, she challenges Christian orthodoxy
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, drawing on claimed new evidence that gives alternative answers to its supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 beliefs. Her analysis has been rejected by many scholars in the field.

Background


Born in Sydney, Australia, Thiering graduated in 1952 from Sydney University with first class honours in modern languages, was a high school teacher of languages for several years, and then, while caring for her three young children, continued study and research privately. She obtained an external B.D.
Bachelor of Divinity
In Western universities, a Bachelor of Divinity is usually an undergraduate academic degree awarded for a course taken in the study of divinity or related disciplines, such as theology or, rarely, religious studies....

 degree from the University of London
University of London
-20th century:Shortly after 6 Burlington Gardens was vacated, the University went through a period of rapid expansion. Bedford College, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics all joined in 1900, Regent's Park College, which had affiliated in 1841 became an official divinity school of the...

, a M.Th.
Master of Theology
A Master of Theology is an advanced theological research degree offered by universities, divinity schools, and seminaries.-North America:In North America, the Master of Theology is considered by the Association of Theological Schools to be the minimum educational credential for teaching...

 degree from Melbourne College of Divinity
Melbourne College of Divinity
The Melbourne College of Divinity is a theological education organisation located in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.The MCD is an ecumenical consortium of a number of theological colleges from a number of denominations...

, and a Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 degree from Sydney University in 1973.

Work



From her specialty, studying the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

, their semiotics
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

, and their hermeneutics, she has propounded a theory arguing that the miracles, including turning water into wine, the virgin birth, healing a man at a distance, the man who had been thirty-eight years at the pool, and the resurrection
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

, among others, did not actually occur (as miracles), as Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s believe, nor were they legend
Legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...

s, as some skeptics hold, but were "deliberately constructed myths" concealing (yet, to certain initiates, relating) esoteric historic events. She alleges that they never actually happened (that is, that the events they chronicle were not at all miraculous), as the authors of the Gospels knew. They wrote, according to her interpretation of the methods of pesher
Pesher
Pesher is a Hebrew word meaning "interpretation" in the sense of "solution". It became known from one group of texts, numbering some hundreds, among the Dead Sea Scrolls....

, which she discovers in the scrolls, on two levels. For the “babes in Christ,” there were apparent miracles, but the knowledge of exact meanings held by the highly educated members of gnostic
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

 schools gave a real history, of what Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 actually did.

In view of her research publications in academic journals, she was invited to lecture at Sydney University, at first in the Department of Semitic
Semitic
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

 Studies, then in the School of Divinity (now the Department of Religious Studies) where she continued until her retirement. During this time she was a member of the Board of Studies in Divinity and the Board of Continuing Education, and served for twelve years as a lay member of the New South Wales Equal Opportunity Tribunal. When her work became known in the USA, she was made a fellow of the Jesus Seminar
Jesus Seminar
The Jesus Seminar is a group of about 150 critical scholars and laymen founded in 1985 by Robert Funk under the auspices of the Westar Institute....

.

In 1990 a documentary film about her research, Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls, was shown by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Academic reception


While Thiering's thesis attracted some controversy in the media when Jesus the Man was published in 1990, her ideas have not received acceptance by her academic peers. In a response to a letter Thiering wrote to The New York Review of Books
The New York Review of Books
The New York Review of Books is a fortnightly magazine with articles on literature, culture and current affairs. Published in New York City, it takes as its point of departure that the discussion of important books is itself an indispensable literary activity...

, objecting to a review by Geza Vermes
Geza Vermes
Géza Vermes or Vermès is a British scholar of Jewish Hungarian origin and writer on religious history, particularly Jewish and Christian. He is a noted authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient works in Aramaic, and on the life and religion of Jesus...

, Vermes outlined the academic reception of her work stating:
"Professor Barbara Thiering's reinterpretation of the New Testament, in which the married, divorced, and remarried Jesus, father of four, becomes the "Wicked Priest" of the Dead Sea Scrolls, has made no impact on learned opinion. Scroll scholars and New Testament experts alike have found the basis of the new theory, Thiering's use of the so-called "pesher technique", without substance."

In 1993 N. T. Wright, former Bishop of Durham, wrote:
It is safe to say that no serious scholar has given this elaborate and fantastic theory any credence whatsoever. It is nearly ten years since it was published; the scholarly world has been able to take a good look at it: and the results are totally negative.

Selected bibliography


External links