Historical Jesus: a Guide for the Perplexed
The introduction to this new guide sets out the sources (Graeco-Roman, Jewish and Christian), noting the problems connected with them, paying particular attention to the nature of the gospels, and the Synoptic versus the Johannine tradition. A substantial section will discuss scholarship on Jesus from the nineteenth century to the explosion of works in the present day, introducing and explaining the three different 'quests' for the historical Jesus.
Subsequent chapters will analyse key themes in historical Jesus research: Jesus' Galilean origins; the scope of his ministry and models of 'holy men', particularly that of prophet; Jesus' teaching and healing; his trial and crucifixion; the highly contentious question of his resurrection; and finally an exploration of the links between the Jesus movement and the early church. Throughout, the (often opposing) positions of a variety of key scholars will be explained and discussed (eg. Sanders, Crossan, Dunn, Wright, Brown).
Table of Contents
Introduction. Sources: Graeco-Roman, Jewish (especially Josephus), Christian (gospels and non-canonical literature). Problems with historical Jesus research (nature of the gospels, bioi, Synoptics vs John, etc). Overview of scholarship on Jesus (the three quests and where we are now).
1: Origins. Where did Jesus come from? Problems with the birth stories. Galilee in recent research (how Jewish was it? relations with Jerusalem?). Social status, family life, trade etc.
2: Ministry. This chapter will look at Jesus' ministry in fairly broad terms: Jesus as follower of John the Baptist; models of 'holy men' in the ancient world, including Prophet (prophetic critique of rulers; symbolic action in Temple) and Messiah; its duration, geographical scope, etc.
3: Teaching. Centrality of the Kingdom of God; use of parables, I am sayings, wisdom sayings etc. Eschatology? Apocalyptic? How much is really historical? (note on Jesus Seminar).
4. Healing. Healers in the ancient world, magic, miracles as a manifestation of the kingdom. Attraction of women in particular to healers?
5: Trial and Execution. Why was Jesus arrested? The parts played by Jewish 'chief priests', Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate. Was there a trial? What was the charge? 'Prophecy historicised'. Was Jesus buried or eaten by dogs? Traditional sites.
6: Resurrection. Problem of different gospel accounts. Empty tomb traditions; women etc. Paul (esp. 1Cor 15). Effect on disciples etc. Later traditions (incl. Gospel of Peter).
7: The Jesus movement and the early Church. Continuity and discontinuity.
Conclusion. The historical Jesus and his legacy.