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Document Details :
Title: How Do We Know (What There Is To Know)?
Subtitle: Criteria for Historical Jesus Research
Author(s): VAN OYEN, Geert
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 26 Issue: 3 Date: fall 2001
Is it possible to define criteria for knowing whether a certain logion attributed to Jesus really could have been spoken by him and as such is ‘historical' (in the sense of authentic)? Over the last fifty years the question has been thoroughly discussed among exegetes.1It is not our aim to list the more than twenty potential criteria which throughout the years have been put forward, nor do we intend to describe their origin or development. For in our opinion it is much more interesting to focus on the way in which exegetes apply the most important criteria when actually analysing texts than to concentrate on the criteria themselves. For this reason I have chosen to illustrate the most frequently used and the most highly valued criteria by means of a number of examples. As such three main criteria can be put forward: multiple independent attestation, dissimilarity and coherence.