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Jesus, Skepticism, and the Problem of History: Criteria and Context in the Study of Christian Origins

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In recent years, a number of New Testament scholars engaged in academic historical Jesus studies have concluded that such scholarship cannot yield secure and illuminating conclusions about its subject, arguing that the search for a historically “authentic” Jesus has run aground.

Jesus, Skepticism, and the Problem of History brings together a stellar lineup of New Testament scholars who contend that historical Jesus scholarship is far from dead.

These scholars all find value in using the tools of contemporary historical methods in the study of Jesus and Christian origins. While the skeptical use of criteria to fashion a Jesus contrary to the one portrayed in the Gospels is methodologically unsound and theologically unacceptable, these criteria, properly formulated and applied, yield positive results that support the Gospel accounts and the historical narrative in Acts. This book presents a nuanced and vitally needed alternative to the skeptical extremes of revisionist Jesus scholarship that, on the one hand, uses historical methods to call into question the Jesus of the Gospels and, on the other, denies the possibility of using historical methods to learn about Jesus.

Resource Experts
  • Explores the value of contemporary historical methods
  • Discusses theoretical issues and actual examples
  • Stimulates reflection about Jesus: who he was, who he is, how we can know, and what might follow as a result
  • Foreword by N. T. Wright

Part One: The Value of New Testament Historical Studies

  • The Historical Jesus and the Biblical Church: Why the Quest Matters
    • Robert M. Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski
  • The Historical Jesus in Recent Evangelical Scholarship
    • Craig L. Blomberg and Darlene M. Seal

Part Two: The Gospels and the Historical Jesus

  • Textual Criticism and the Criterion of Embarrassment
    • Daniel B. Wallace
  • Collective Memory and the Reliability of the Gospel Traditions
    • Robert K. Mc Iver
  • The Historicity of the Early Oral Jesus Tradition: Reflections on the “Reliability Wars”
    • Paul R. Eddy
  • Reconstructing the Historical Pharisees: Does Matthew’s Gospel Have Anything to Contribute?
    • Jeannine Brown
  • Alternate History and the Sermon on the Mount: New Trajectories for Research
    • Beth Sheppard
  • A Test Case: Jesus’s Remarks before the Sanhedrin: Blasphemy or Hope of Exaltation?
    • Darrell L. Bock
  • The John, Jesus, and History Project and a Fourth Quest for Jesus
    • Paul N. Anderson
  • Jesus’s Burial: Archaeology, Authenticity, and History
    • Craig A. Evans and Greg Monette
  • The Fourth Quest: John, Jesus, and History
    • Paul N. Anderson
  • Jesus’ Burial: Archaeology, Authenticity, and History
    • Craig A. Evans and Greg Monette
  • Jesus’s Resurrection, Realism, and the Role of the Criteria of Authenticity
    • Michael R. Licona

Part Three: The Book of Acts and Christian Origins

  • Social Memory in Acts
    • Michael F. Bird and Ben Sutton
  • Acts: History or Fiction?
    • Craig S. Keener

Part Four: Responses and Reflections

  • A Response by Larry W. Hurtado
  • The Historical Jesus and Witness: The Problem Is Not Method but Results
    • Scot McKnight
  • Jesus, Skepticism, and the Problem of History: The Conversation Continues
    • Nicholas Perrin

Top Highlights

“sparked by the reports of the exorcisms and miracles performed by Jesus and his disciples (Mark 6:12–15; Luke 9:7–8)” (Page 17)

“That is, there is not a single well-evidenced historical fact about Jesus that undermines the ‘orthodox’ view of Jesus.” (Page 23)

“explanation of the facts would be more historically plausible than a miracle” (Page 38)

  • Paul N. Anderson
  • Michael F. Bird
  • Craig L. Blomberg
  • Darrell L. Bock
  • Robert M. Bowman Jr.
  • Jeannine K. Brown
  • Paul Rhodes Eddy
  • Craig A. Evans
  • Larry W. Hurtado
  • Craig S. Keener
  • J. Ed Komoszewski
  • Michael R. Licona
  • Robert McIver
  • Scot McKnight
  • Michael B. Metts
  • Greg Monette
  • Nicholas Perrin
  • Darlene M. Seal
  • Beth M. Sheppard
  • Ben Sutton
  • Daniel B. Wallace

Darrell L. Bock (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is senior research professor of New Testament studies and Executive Director for Cultural Engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. Known for his work in Luke-Acts, Dr. Bock is a Humboldt Scholar (Tubingen University in Germany), is on the editorial board for Christianity Today, and a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society (2000-2001). A New York Times bestselling author, Bock has written over forty books, including Luke in the NIV Application Commentary series.

J. Ed Komoszewski (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) has taught at Northwestern College and at Bethlehem College & Seminary. He is the coauthor of Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture and Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ.


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