Groundbreaking study that examines the works of more than fifty 18th- and 19th-century authors and scholars and concludes that many of the earlier historical reconstructions of Christ were largely fantasies.
In the past forty years, while historical-critical studies were seeking with renewed intensity to reconstruct events behind the biblical texts, not least the life of Jesus, two branches of literary studies were finally reaching maturity. First, researchers were recognizing that many biblical texts are rewritings or transformations of older texts that still exist, thus giving a clearer sense of where the biblical texts came from; and second, studies in the ancient art of composition clarified the biblical texts' unity and purpose, that is to say, where biblical texts were headed. The work of tracing literary indebtedness and art is far from finished but it is already possible and necessary to draw a conclusion: it is that, bluntly, Jesus did not exist as a historical individual. This is not as negative as may at first appear. In a deeply personal coda, Brodie begins to develop a new vision of Jesus as an icon of God's presence in the world and in human history.
Author: Richard C. Carrier
Publisher: Prometheus Books
This in-depth discussion of New Testament scholarship and the challenges of history as a whole proposes Bayes’s Theorem, which deals with probabilities under conditions of uncertainty, as a solution to the problem of establishing reliable historical criteria. The author demonstrates that valid historical methods—not only in the study of Christian origins but in any historical study—can be described by, and reduced to, the logic of Bayes’s Theorem. Conversely, he argues that any method that cannot be reduced to this theorem is invalid and should be abandoned. Writing with thoroughness and clarity, the author explains Bayes’s Theorem in terms that are easily understandable to professional historians and laypeople alike, employing nothing more than well-known primary school math. He then explores precisely how the theorem can be applied to history and addresses numerous challenges to and criticisms of its use in testing or justifying the conclusions that historians make about the important persons and events of the past. The traditional and established methods of historians are analyzed using the theorem, as well as all the major "historicity criteria" employed in the latest quest to establish the historicity of Jesus. The author demonstrates not only the deficiencies of these approaches but also ways to rehabilitate them using Bayes’s Theorem. Anyone with an interest in historical methods, how historical knowledge can be justified, new applications of Bayes’s Theorem, or the study of the historical Jesus will find this book to be essential reading. From the Hardcover edition.
For two centuries scholars have sought to discover the historical Jesus. Presently such scholarship is dominated not by the question 'Who was Jesus?' but rather 'How do we even go about answering the question, "Who was Jesus?"?' With this current situation in mind, Jonathan Bernier undertakes a two-fold task: one, to engage on the level of the philosophy of history with existing approaches to the study of the historical Jesus, most notably the criteria approach and the social memory approach; two, to work with the critical realism developed by Bernard Lonergan, introduced into New Testament studies by Ben F. Meyer, and advocated by N.T. Wright in order to develop a philosophy of history that can elucidate current debates within historical Jesus studies.
A renowned scholar calls for a change of direction for the study of Jesus in the 21st century.
Combining NT scholarship with the racy and readable style of a thriller, Theissen succeeds brilliantly in conveying the gospel story in the fresh and imaginative prose of a novel. Here is a wealth of information about Palestinian life and politics.
SCM Studies in Biblical Theology 23
Author: Bart D. Ehrman
Publisher: Harper Collins
Examines contradictions and discrepancies that come to light when the New Testament is studied from a historical perspective, including varying views of Jesus and salvation and forgeries in the names of the apostles.
This collection of essays highlights a dimension of Paul's theology of justification that has been neglected ? that his teaching emerged as an integral part of his understanding of his commission to preach the gospel to non-Jews and that his dismissal of justification by works of the law was directed not so much against Jewish legalism but rather against his fellow Jews' assumption that the law remained a dividing wall separating Christian Jews from Christian Gentiles. James Dunn seeks to carry forward the debate on Jewish soteriology, on the relation of justification by faith to judgment according to works, on Christian fulfillment of the law, and on the crucial role of Christ, his death and resurrection. Full of detail and intriguing thought, Dunn's collection will enlighten any scholar of the New Testament.
The Human Christ
Author: Charlotte Allen
Publisher: Lion Books
Jesus the historical figure has intrigued some of the most interesting figures of modernity; such as Newton and Norman Mailer. In this revealing history and critique, the author enters the complex mental worlds of these researchers to show how our understanding of Jesus has influenced our culture
The great German theologian Albert Schweitzer famously drew a line under 19th century historical Jesus research by showing that at the bottom of the well lay not the face of Joseph's son, but rather the features of all the New Testament scholars who had tried to reveal his elusive essence. In his thoughtful and provocative new book, Halvor Moxnes takes Schweitzer's observation much further: the doomed "quest for the historical Jesus" was determined not only by the different personalities of the seekers who undertook it, but also by the social, cultural, and political agendas of the countries from which their presentations emerged. Thus, Friedrich Schleiermacher's Jesus was a teacher, corresponding with the role German teachers played in Germany's movement for democratic socialism. Ernst Renan's Jesus was by contrast an attempt to represent the "positive Orient" as a precursor to the civilized self of his own French society. Scottish theologian G A Smith demonstrated in his manly portrayal of Jesus a distinctively British liberalism and Victorian moralism. Moxnes argues that one cannot understand any "life of Jesus" apart from nationalism and national identity: and that what is needed in modern biblical studies is an awareness of all the presuppositions that underlie presentations of Jesus, whether in terms of power, gender, sex, and class. Only then, he says, can we start to look at Jesus in a way that does him justice.
The Jesus Quest
Author: Ben Witherington
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Ben Witherington III offers a comprehensive assessment of what scholars such as John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, Burton Mack and the Jesus Seminar are really saying about Jesus.
This book challenges the modernistic view that because John is theological and different from the Synoptics it cannot be historical.