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Jesus Creed

Book Comments: Historical Jesus

Two new books on the historical Jesus might be worth your careful consideration. The first one provides the spectrum of views, the second one is a historical Jesus book by one scholar. 

James Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy have produced a book for students, or for pastors who simply don’t have the time to read the major books and sort through all the scholarship. The book is called: The Historical Jesus: Five Views
.  Here’s what you will find:
Chapters by prominent scholars: Robert Price (there wasn’t a Jesus!), John Dominic Crossan (Jesus the Mediterranean peasant), Luke Timothy Johnson (a narrative approach), James D.G. Dunn (the Jesus of the Church’s memory), and Darrell Bock (an evangelical view). The highlight of multiple view books, of course, is the interaction. While thoroughly civil, there’s some real fireworks in the responses — Dunn to Price and vice versa were juicy. This book is an excellent textbook for colleges and seminaries, and an wonderful place to begin for anyone who wants to know what major players are saying.

Craig Keener, a delightful scholar at Palmer Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, may be our generation’s most detailed scholar, and his approach is on full display in his brand new book on Jesus: The Historical Jesus of the Gospels: Jesus in Historical Context
. 800+ pages; everything covered; footnotes for everything. Texts cited in abundance! But his focus on the historical sources more than reconstructing a new Jesus. In some ways, this is about Jesus in his historical context. 

Craig covers some really good topics, but makes no pretense of even comprehensive coverage. He covers John the Baptist and Jesus the Galilean Jew and Jesus as a teacher and kingdom discipleship and Jesus’ Jewish ethics and conflicts with other teachers and Jesus the Prophet and Jesus the Messiah and Confronting the leaders, and sections on the passion and death and resurrection. 
This book will be a staple for many of us for years to come. Great job, Craig
Comments read comments(7)
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Leigh Anne

posted November 29, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Convinced me! Time to buy a new book! Thanks for the insight!

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Darren King

posted November 29, 2009 at 7:44 pm

What, no one to cover the “Jesus was an alien” angle?
Seriously though, its hard to take seriously a historian who claims Jesus of Nazareth never was. Talk about fantasy paraded as reality.

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posted November 30, 2009 at 9:50 am

Thanks for posting these books. I’ve only recently (last 3-4 years or so) stumbled accross historo-crit scholarship. I WISH that thie discipline had made its way into the churches of my upbringing. It can be faith challenging at times (see Gerd Luedemann’s recent post at the Bible interpretation website!).
time to expand the library again.. 😉

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posted November 30, 2009 at 10:23 am

Let me second what Darren says. If you’re to the left of Crossan, you’re bordering on tin-foil-hat territory.

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John W Frye

posted November 30, 2009 at 11:30 am

Jimmy Dunn’s view—the Jesus of the church’s memory– can you say more about that view here? I would think it’s a very, very short term memory due to the scant about of time between Jesus’ life and the creation of the Gospels. True?

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Scot McKnight

posted November 30, 2009 at 3:19 pm

John, for some reason BNet/Movable Type doesn’t notify me when you write. I got most others via e-mail but not yours.
Jimmy believes the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of the Church’s memory, and that memory records the real Jesus made on the memory and faith of the disciples. Jimmy’s fighting the attempt to get back to find the uninterpreted Jesus — which he says there’s no record of. So his point is not so much reliability as the Jesus of memory.

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Steven Carr

posted December 17, 2009 at 3:58 am

So what was Dunn’s reaction to arguments that Romans 13 could not have been written by somebody who believed Jesus was flogged, beaten, whipped, mocked, and crucified by Romans?
Did Dunn simply pretend that no such argument had ever been made?
Or did he at least attempt to whitewash the evidence?

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