Helen Bond Reflects on Historical Jesus Studies

Helen Bond Reflects on Historical Jesus Studies December 28, 2012

Helen Bond is one of the sharpest Jesus scholars in academia today. I just finished reading her Historical Jesus: A Guide for the Perplexed (Continuum). It is an absolutely brilliant read (I will have more to say about this on a later occasion). She has written a helpfully succinct set of reflections on her writing of the book. You can read it here.

Interestingly, Helen has a general appreciation for the criteria of authenticity for HJ studies, though she does not use it mechanically or inflexibly. Since I was reading her book while also completing the new Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity (eds. Le Donne and Keith; also Continuum), which casts serious doubt on the benefits and effectiveness of the standard “criteria of authenticity,” I wonder how Bond would respond to their “cease and desist” order for Jesus scholars.
My guess would be that she would agree that the “criteria” should not be used to authenticate sayings or a word or phrase here and there. She would agree that some criteria are seriously flawed, such as dissimilarity. However, I think she would still find the general idea of using some standard tools acceptable and even useful. She would support caution and use of the criteria to get a sense for the “gist” of Jesus, but we should not toss them away in toto. That’s just my guess about what Bond would say. I hope she gets a chance to review the book (perhaps for her Edinburgh hosted Expository Times?).

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