Crossan Methodology

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This page is part of the Jesus Database project.

Crossan uses an explicit methology to construct his historical Jesus inventory that underlies the JESUSDATABASE project.


First, he lists the complexes of surviving Jesus traditions according to the probable date of the earliest independent witness, using four strata:

I: 30-60 C.E.
II: 60-80 C.E.
III: 80-120 C.E.
IV: 120-150 C.E.


Within each of the strata Crossan lists the items according to the number of independent sources that attest to the complex:

Multiple Attestation
Triple Attestation
Double Attestation
Single Attestation

As an intentional methodological discipline, Crossan excludes from consideration any complex that has only single attestation even if it is found in a source from the first stratum.

Historical Assessment

Crossan uses three simple symbols to indicate whether the complex in question derives from the historical Jesus or from the later Jesus tradition.

+ indicates that "the core of the complex derives from Jesus himself."

- indicates that the tradition is not derived from Jesus.

± is used for incidents that did not occur as an event at one moment in time or at a specific place, but are best understood as a "dramatic historicization" of something that took place over a much longer period.