Quest for the Historical Jesus (Part 3: Quest Critics and the Whole Picture)

Let’s continue our discussion of the Quest for the Historical Jesus. In part one of this series, we considered the history of the Quest, and in part two I described some of the work produced under the current “Third Quest”. Throughout this series I’ve referred to Quest critics who deride the “profitable trade” in sensational and supposedly controversial material about Jesus. In response, I’ve suggested that diverse portrayals of the historical Jesus reflect our rebellious religious personality. At least in the United States, many of us are religious questers by nature, so the Quest will go on, no matter what the critics say.

But let’s look a little deeper at the criticism directed at the Quest by recent scholars. Here, I am indebted to a terrific book edited by Chris Keith and Anthony Le Donne, “Jesus, Criteria and the Demise of Authenticity, that includes chapters by Dale Allison, Mark Goodacre and other leading scholars of early Christianity. But for the Quest critique, I’ll rely mostly on the book’s introduction, written by Morna Hooker.

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