Review of The Historical Jesus: Five Views. Introduction

The Historical Jesus: Five ViewsInterVarsity Press kindly sent me a free review copy of The Historical Jesus: Five Views, edited by James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy (IVP Academic, 2009), with contributions by Robert M. Price, John Dominic Crossan, Luke Timothy Johnson, James D. G. Dunn and Darrell L. Bock. I have been looking forward to reading this book for some time, and am glad that the summer has finally afforded me the opportunity.

The book’s introduction does a good job of introducing readers who may not be familiar with the history of study of the Jesus of history to the field and its key methods and issues. Key questions old and new are highlighted, such as whether it is best to start with the “big picture” or to focus in the first instance in assessing the authenticity of individual pieces of the puzzle; what Jesus meant by the “kingdom of God” and whether his predictions regarding it mean he was mistaken; continuity and discontinuity between Jesus and Judaism on the one hand and Jesus and Christianity on the other; and whether the diverse portraits that scholars have put forward are an embarrassing evidence of the failure of historical research into the figure of Jesus, or a wonderful opportunity to debate and discuss not only the conclusions themselves, but also the methods used to arrive at them, thereby hopefully achieving a greater measure of methodological precision and sophistication.

My plan is to set aside individual blog posts for chapters and the responses to them. I have been particularly eager to read Robert Price’s chapter (which is up next!) since I have often been told by mythicists that however many other earlier works by mythicists I had read and found unpersuasive (if not a complete waste of time), if I had not read some of these most recent ones, I still had not “done my homework” adequately. And so I approached Price’s chapter with a mixture of enthusiasm and skepticism. What was my impression? Stay tuned!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06888693459447442106 Qohelet

    Staying tuned. :)

  • http://vridar.wordpress.com neilgodfrey

    You post 3 links to my blog within a sentence that says something quite different from what I have written, James. I'm surprised a professor is not more careful with his facts.Your earlier exchanges were littered with strawman distortions of my argument about historical method; you demonstrated your unfortunate ignorance of the most fundamental history of historiography outside your own narrow area; you went quiet whenever I took up a challenge of yours to address key scholars and their arguments. Such is the calibre of a mainstream associate professor of religion who can mount nothing but insult and distortion and once again here, misrepresentation, in place of clear reasoned argument and rebuttal.Maybe some of your readers might also like to consider a reasoned response to the logical fallacies and conceptual confusion by which you "explain" how this strange phenomenon of "biblical historical enquiry" works.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    If you don't want the links to your blog, I'll gladly remove them. They were added as a courtesy to indicate where, apart from on my blog, some of the earlier conversation had taken place.It is common for mythicists and creationists to blame the silence that eventually ensues from their mainstream conversation partners as an indication of an inability to respond, whereas a far more natural interpretation is that it results from frustration at the other side's lack of clear methodology, inconsistency, misunderstanding, misconstrual, and so on.But let me post my thoughts on Price, and then we can see whether you do what mythicists have done in the past and say "He's not typical, there are others who have better arguments" or find a way to actual defend his approach and his conclusions. Either way, I'm happy to talk further about this, although I suspect that it will eventually end in silence once again, since Price's arguments are his selective use of evidence are frustratingly problematic. But that's getting ahead of ourselves. I hope to post the review of that chapter soon.


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