Interest in the historical Jesus continues to occupy much of today’s discussion of the Bible. The vexing question is how the Jesus presented in the Gospels relates to the Jesus that actually walked this earth.
Studying the Historical Jesus is an introductory guide to how one might go about answering that question by doing historical inquiry into the material found in the Gospels. Darrell Bock introduces the sources of our knowledge about Jesus, both biblical and extra-biblical. He then surveys the history and culture of the world of Jesus. The final chapters introduce some of the methods used to study the Gospels, including historical, redaction, and narrative criticisms.
Bock, a well respected author, provides an informed evangelical alternative to radical projects like the Jesus Seminar. His audience, however, is not limited only to evangelicals. This book, written for college and seminary courses, offers an informed scholarly approach that takes the Gospels seriously as a source of historical information.
“The synagogue as a place of prayer, gathering, education, and worship probably arose initially to make up for the absence of the temple and then the problem of distance from Jerusalem after the temple was rebuilt.” (Page 83)
“Intimate knowledge of the original community to which each Gospel was addressed is not a requirement for understanding the key elements of a Gospel’s message, though where such can be determined, they help us to grasp a Gospel’s message more precisely. What we do need to appreciate is the general culture in which these works were written, as well as the culture in which Jesus lived.” (Page 14)
“The exposure to the belief systems of other nations intensified strands of ideas already present in Judaism” (Page 83)
“Their goal was to witness to Jesus and strengthen the new communities formed around him. They wrote about the Jesus they knew, the Jesus they preached, and the Jesus others needed to know.” (Page 13)
“First, we lack records from numerous major figures of the ancient world” (Page 46)
This brief historical survey is first class—better than most others I have read that cover the 'Second Temple' period. I shall have no hesitation in recommending this book to my students.
—David M. Jacobson, London University
All those seeking a reliable guide to the historical study of Jesus may be advised: run, don't walk, and place your order for the book Studying the Historical Jesus. As the subtitle promises, this is truly 'A Guide to Sources and Methods.'…Bock sorts out the historical stages of critical scholarship on the Gospels during the past two centuries, and offers a judicious assessment of the value of historical criticism, source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, tradition criticism, and narrative criticism.
—R. Douglas Geivett, Christian Research Journal
The book is an extremely readable volume, and provides very good coverage of the considerable ground that it surveys. Students will find all the chapters in the book to be a very good combination of readability and density of material.
—Simon Gathercole, Themelios
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Richard E Powell