- Historicity of Jesus
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The historicity of Jesus concerns how much of what is written about Jesus of Nazareth is historically reliable. Scholarly opinion on the historicity of Jesus covers a spectrum of ideas that range from "the gospels are inerrant descriptions of the life of Jesus" to "the gospels provide no historical information about Jesus' life including his very existence".
The majority of biblical scholars who study Early Christianity believe that the Gospels do contain some reliable information about Jesus, agreeing that Jesus was a Jew who was regarded as a teacher and healer, that he was baptized by John the Baptist, and was crucified in Jerusalem on the orders of the Roman Prefect of Judaea, Pontius Pilate, on the charge of sedition against the Roman Empire. According to traditional Christian Church teaching, the Gospels of John and Matthew were written by eyewitnesses. Many modern biblical scholars question this. The canonical gospels were written anonymously.
Material which refers to Jesus includes the books of the New Testament, statements from the early Church Fathers, hypothetical sources which many biblical scholars argue lie behind the New Testament, brief references in histories produced decades or centuries later by pagan and Jewish sources such as Josephus, gnostic and other apocryphal documents, and early Christian creeds. Many scholars believe not everything contained in the gospels to be historically reliable, and elements whose historical authenticity is disputed include the two accounts of the nativity of Jesus, as well as the resurrection and certain details about the crucifixion.
The evidence for the existence of Jesus all comes from after his lifetime. As a result, some critics argue that Biblical scholars have created the historical Jesus in their own image. A very small number of scholars believe the gospel accounts are so mythical in nature that nothing, not even the very existence of Jesus, can be determined from them.
- 1 Jesus as a historical person
- 2 Jesus as myth
- 3 Greco-Roman Pagan sources
- 4 Jewish sources
- 5 Christian sources
- 6 Overview of scholarly studies of Jesus
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Jesus as a historical person
The Historical Jesus is a reconstruction of Jesus using modern historical methods. Historians draw on scriptures, religious texts, other historical sources and archaeological evidence in an attempt to reconstruct the life of Jesus in his historical and cultural context.
Paul Barnett pointed out that "scholars of ancient history have always recognized the 'subjectivity' factor in their available sources" and "have so few sources available compared to their modern counterparts that they will gladly seize whatever scraps of information that are at hand." He noted that modern history and ancient history are two separate disciplines, with differing methods of analysis and interpretation.
Scholars like E.P. Sanders, Geza Vermes, John P. Meier, David Flusser, James H. Charlesworth, Raymond E. Brown, Paula Fredriksen and John Dominic Crossan have variously argued that the gospel accounts of the baptism of Jesus, his preaching, and the crucifixion of Jesus, are generally deemed to be historically authentic, while the two accounts of the nativity of Jesus, as well as certain details about the crucifixion and the resurrection, are more disputed. Charles Guignebert (1867–1939), Professor of the History of Christianity at the Sorbonne, maintained that the "conclusions which are justified by the documentary evidence may be summed up as follows: Jesus was born somewhere in Galilee in the time of the Emperor Augustus, of a humble family, which included half a dozen or more children besides himself.". He adds elsewhere "there is no reason to suppose he was not executed".
Schweitzer, however, wrote: "The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the kingdom of God, who founded the kingdom of heaven upon earth and died to give his work its final consecration never existed..... He will be a Jesus, who was Messiah, and lived as such, either on the ground of a literary fiction of the earliest Evangelist, or on the ground of a purely eschatological Messianic conception. In either case, He will not be a Jesus Christ to whom the religion of the present can ascribe, according to its long-cherished custom, its own thoughts and ideas, as it did with the Jesus of its own making..... It is not given to history to disengage that which is abiding and eternal in the being of Jesus from the historical forms in which it worked itself out, and to introduce it into our world as a living influence."
Recent research has focused upon the "Jewishness" of the historical Jesus. The re-evaluation of Jesus' family, particularly the role played after his death by his brother James, has led scholars like Hans Küng to suggest that there was an early form of non-Hellenistic "Jewish Christianity" like the Ebionites, that did not accept the doctrine of Jesus' divinity and was persecuted by both Roman and Christian authorities. Küng suggests that these Jewish Christians settled in Arabia, and may have influenced the story of Christ as portrayed in the Qur'an.
According to Christian theologians like I. Howard Marshall, Gregory Boyd, and Paul Rhodes Eddy as well as skeptics such as John Remsburg and Dan Barker, the historicity of Jesus covers a spectrum of ideas that range from "the gospels are inerrant descriptions of the life of Jesus" to "the gospels provide no historical information about Jesus' life including his very existence" on the other. Boyd and Eddy state that any divisions of this spectrum of views are merely a "useful heuristic" to organize what is ultimately a very complex issue.
Prominent critics like John Remsburg and Richard Dawkins say that while the Gospel accounts are no more historical than any other myth (Dawkins likens them to an ancient Da Vinci Code) the odds are Jesus did exist. Others like G. R. S. Mead and Ellegard have argued that the Gospel Jesus is a myth based on an earlier historical person described in either the Talmud or Dead Sea Scrolls. Rolf Torstendahl, professor of history at Uppsala University, has stated that the evidence for existence of Jesus is too weak for a historian to be able to say anything on Jesus' existence, based on evidence. Graham Stanton, Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University, writes that the majority of historians accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which has to be weighed and assessed critically. John P. Meier, professor of theology at University of Notre Dame, has stated that historians over the second half of the 20th century "have produced a rough consensus on the valid sources, methods and criteria in the quest for the historical Jesus" Mark Allan Powell, professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, has stated that "most historians are reasonably certain we can know about" things Jesus said and did. Joseph Hoffmann, the co-chair of the Jesus Project and a professor of religion at the Wells college holds that the issue of historicity of Jesus has been largely ignored owing to theological interests.
Jesus as myth
The existence of Jesus as a historical figure has been questioned by some biblical scholars; among the earliest were Constantin-François Volney and Charles François Dupuis in the 18th century and Bruno Bauer in the 19th century. Each of these proposed that the Jesus character was a fusion of earlier mythologies though Volney felt that confused memories of an obscure historical figure might have integrated into this already existing solar mythology.
In the first half of the 20th century, the views of scholars who entirely rejected Jesus' historicity were based on a suggested lack of eyewitnesses, a lack of direct archaeological evidence, the failure of ancient works, like those of Philo for example, to mention Jesus, and similarities early Christianity shares with then-contemporary religion and mythology.
More recently, arguments for non-historicity have been discussed by Guy Fau, Prosper Alfaric, W. B. Smith, John M. Allegro, George Albert Wells, Earl Doherty (The Jesus Puzzle, 1999), Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy (The Jesus Mysteries) and Robert M. Price and the idea has been popularized in the early 21st century by some of the writers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, representing the New Atheism movement.
According to Cambridge theologian Graham Stanton, the scholarly mainstream rejects the myth thesis, and, in 1934, Quaker biblical scholar Herbert George Wood identified serious methodological deficiencies in the approach.[Need quotation to verify] As such, New Testament scholar James Dunn describes the mythical Jesus theory as a "thoroughly dead thesis". According to Gordon Stein, however, the issue is still far from settled.
Greco-Roman Pagan sources
There are Greco-Roman pagan passages relevant to Christianity in the works of three major non-Christian writers of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries – Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger. However, these are generally references to early Christians rather than a historical Jesus. Tacitus, in his Annals written c. 115, mentions Christus, without many historical details (see also: Tacitus on Christ). There is an obscure reference to a Jewish leader called "Chrestus" in Suetonius. (According to Suetonius, chapter 25, there occurred in Rome, during the reign of emperor Claudius (c. AD 50), "persistent disturbances ... at the instigation of Chrestus". Mention in Acts of "After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome."
Charles Guignebert (Professor of the History Of Christianity at the Sorbonne), while rejecting the Jesus Myth theory and feeling that the Epistles of Paul were sufficient to prove the historical existence of Jesus, said "all the pagan and Jewish testimonies, so-called, afford us no information of any value about the life of Jesus, nor even any assurance that he ever lived."
Pliny the Younger
Pliny the Younger (c. 61 - c. 112), the provincial governor of Pontus and Bithynia, wrote to Emperor Trajan c. 112 concerning how to deal with Christians, who refused to worship the emperor, and instead worshiped "Christus".
Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ — none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do — these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshiped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.
Charles Guignebert, who does not doubt that Jesus of the Gospels lived in Gallilee in the 1st century, nevertheless dismisses this letter as acceptable historical evidence: "Only the most robust credulity could reckon this assertion as admissible evidence for the historicity of Jesus"
Tacitus (c. 56–c. 117), writing c. 116, included in his Annals a mention of Christianity and "Christus", the Latinized Greek translation of the Hebrew word "Messiah". In describing Nero's persecution of this group following the Great Fire of Rome c. 64, he wrote:
Nero fastened the guilt of starting the blaze and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians [Chrestians] by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.
There have been suggestions that this was a Christian interpolation but most scholars conclude that the passage was written by Tacitus. For example, R. E. Van Voorst noted the improbability that later Christians would have interpolated "such disparaging remarks about Christianity".
There is disagreement about what this passage proves, since Tacitus does not reveal the source of his information. Biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman wrote that: "Tacitus's report confirms what we know from other sources, that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, sometime during Tiberius's reign."
Tacitus may have used official sources from a Roman archive. Tacitus drew on many earlier historical works now lost to us in the Annals. The description of the suppression of Christianity, calling it a superstition for instance, is not based on any statements Christians may have made to Tacitus. However, if Tacitus was copying from an official source some would expect him to not incorrectly label Pilate a procurator, as he was a prefect.
Charles Guignebert argued "So long as there is that possibility [that Tacitus is merely echoing what Christians themselves were saying], the passage remains quite worthless".
Gerd Theissen and Annette Merz conclude that Tacitus gives us a description of widespread prejudices about Christianity and a few precise details about "Christus" and Christianity, the source of which remains unclear. Christus was a Jew and a criminal whom Pontius Pilate had executed. He authored a new religious movement that began in Judea and was called Christianity which was widespread around the city of Rome during Nero's reign.
The event was noted in Acts 18:2. The term Chrestus also appears in some later texts applied to Jesus, and Robert Graves, among others, consider it a variant spelling of Christ, or at least a reasonable spelling error. On the other hand, Chrestus was itself a common name, particularly for slaves, meaning good or useful. With regard to Jewish persecution around the time to which this passage refers, the Jewish Encyclopedia states: "... in 49–50, in consequence of dissensions among them regarding the arrival of the Messiah, they were forbidden to hold religious services. The leaders in the controversy, and many others of the Jewish citizens, left the city".
Another suggestion as to why Chrestus may not be Christ is based on the fact Suetonius refers to Jews not Christians in this passage, even though in his Life of Nero he shows some knowledge of the sect's existence. One solution to this problem, however, lies in the fact that the early Christians had not yet separated from their Jewish origin at this time. Even discounting all these points, this passage offers little information about Jesus himself.
Flavius Josephus (c. 37–c. 100), a Jew and Roman citizen who worked under the patronage of the Flavians, wrote the Antiquities of the Jews in AD 93. In these works, Jesus is mentioned twice, though scholars debate their authenticity. The one directly concerning Jesus has come to be known as the Testimonium Flavianum.
In the first passage, called the Testimonium Flavianum, it is written:
About this time came Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it is appropriate to call him a man. For he was a performer of paradoxical feats, a teacher of people who accept the unusual with pleasure, and he won over many of the Jews and also many Greeks. He was the Christ. When Pilate, upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned him to be crucified, those who had formerly loved him did not cease to follow him, for he appeared to them on the third day, living again, as the divine prophets foretold, along with a myriad of other marvellous things concerning him. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.
Concerns have been raised about the authenticity of the passage, and it is widely held by scholars that at least part of the passage has been altered by a later scribe. The Testimonium's authenticity has attracted much scholarly discussion and controversy of interpolation. Louis H. Feldman counts 87 articles published during the period of 1937–1980, "the overwhelming majority of which question its authenticity in whole or in part." Judging from Alice Whealey's 2003 survey of the historiography, it seems that the majority of modern scholars consider that Josephus really did write something here about Jesus, but that the text that has reached us is corrupt. There has been no consensus on which portions have been altered, or to what degree. However, Geza Vermes points out in an in-depth analysis of the passage that much of the language is typically Josephan, which not only supports the hypothesis that Josephus did write something about Jesus, but also may aid in determining which parts of the passage are genuine. While very few scholars believe the whole Testimonium is genuine, most scholars have found at least some authentic words of Josephus in the passage, since some portions are written in his style.
In the second, brief mention, Josephus calls James "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ." The great majority of scholars consider this shorter reference to Jesus to be substantially authentic, Hegesippus, in a work produced around 165-175, also has an account of James that has irreconcilable conflicts with Josephus regarding the death of James the Just (c70 CE vs Josephus' c64).
In antiquity, Origen recorded that Josephus did not believe Jesus was the Christ, as it seems to suggest in the quote above. L. Michael White argued against authenticity, citing that parallel sections of Josephus's Jewish War do not mention Jesus, and that some Christian writers as late as the 3rd century, who quoted from Josephus's Antiquities, do not mention this passage. However, Alice Whealey has shown that it is far from clear that any 3rd century Christians other than Origen quoted from or even directly knew Antiquities.
The main reason to believe Josephus did originally mention Jesus is the fact that the majority of scholars accept the authenticity of his passage on Jesus' brother James. Arguably the main reason to accept that Josephus also wrote a version of the Testimonium Flavianum is the fact that Jerome (died in 420 AD) and Michael the Syrian (died in 1199 AD) quote literal translations of the text in a form reading, more skeptically than the textus receptus, that "he was thought to be the Christ" rather than "he was the Christ." The identical wording of Jerome and Michael the Syrian indicates the existence of an originally Greek Testimonium in the 5th century, since Latin Christian scholars and Syriac scholars did not read each others' works, but both commonly translated Greek Christian works.
Shlomo Pines and a few other scholars have argued that the version of the Testimonium written by the 10th century Arab historian named Agapius of Manbij is closer to what one would expect Josephus to have written, and the similarities between the two passages imply a Christian author later removed Josephus' conservative tone and added interpolations. Pines cites Josephus as having written:
At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and (he) was known to be virtuous and many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not desert his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.
However, it has been argued that Agapius' text is almost surely a paraphrase of the Testimonium from the Syriac translation of Eusebius of Caesarea's Historia Ecclesiastica, and that it is Michael the Syrian's Syriac Testimonium, which also derives from the Syriac Historia Ecclesiastica, along with the Latin translation of Jerome that are the most important witnesses to Josephus' original passage on Jesus. There is the point that despite apparently believing that Jesus was the Messiah who rose from the dead, Josephus remained a Jew and did not convert to Christianity.
Mara bar Sarapion
For what benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death, seeing that they received as retribution for it famine and pestilence? Or the people of Samos by the burning of Pythagoras, seeing that in one hour the whole of their country was covered with sand? Or the Jews by the murder of their Wise King, seeing that from that very time their kingdom was driven away from them? For with justice did God grant a recompense to the wisdom of all three of them. For the Athenians died by famine; and the people of Samos were covered by the sea without remedy; and the Jews, brought to desolation and expelled from their kingdom, are driven away into every land. Nay, Socrates did “not” die, because of Plato; nor yet Pythagoras, because of the statue of Hera; nor yet the Wise King, because of the new laws which he enacted.
Composed sometime between 73 AD and the 3rd century, some scholars believe this describes the fall of Jerusalem as the gods' punishment for the Jews having killed Jesus because they infer that Jesus must be "the wise king" referred to by Mara.
The Babylonian Talmud in a few rare instances likely or possibly refers to Jesus using the terms "Yeshu," "Yeshu ha-Notzri," "ben Satda," and "ben Pandera". These references probably date back to the Tannaitic period (70–200 CE). One important reference relates the trial and execution of Jesus and his disciples. It includes this text:
It is taught: On the eve of Passover they hung Yeshu and the crier went forth for forty days beforehand declaring that "[Yeshu] is going to be stoned for practicing witchcraft, for enticing and leading Israel astray. Anyone who knows something to clear him should come forth and exonerate him." But no one had anything exonerating for him and they hung him on the eve of Passover. Ulla said: Would one think that we should look for exonerating evidence for him? He was an enticer and God said (Deuteronomy 13:9) "Show him no pity or compassion, and do not shield him." Yeshu was different because he was close to the government.
These early possible references to Jesus have little historical information independent from the gospels, but they do seem to reflect the historical Jesus as a man who had disciples and was crucified during Passover. They reflect hostility toward Jesus among the rabbis. The story of Jesus' trial asserts that Jesus was guilty of a capital crime, and defends the court against the early Christian criticism that Jesus' trial had been hasty. Another aspect of this record is that it varies dramatically from the records in the gospels. Instead of twelve disciples, there are only five, and only one name, that of Matai, even resembles those of the disciples in the gospels. Other differences include hanging instead of crucifixion, a call for witnesses to his defense and the disciples all being sentenced to death after their own trials.
It is taught: Yeshu had five disciples - Matai, Nekai, Netzer, Buni, and Todah. They brought Matai [before the judges]. He said to them: Will Matai be killed? It is written (Psalm 42:2) "When [=Matai] shall (I) come and appear before God." They said to him: Yes, Matai will be killed as it is written (Psalm 41:5) "When [=Matai] shall (he) die and his name perish." They brought Nekai. He said to them: Will Nekai be killed? It is written (Exodus 23:7) "The innocent [=Naki] and the righteous you shall not slay." They said to him: Yes, Nekai will be killed as it is written (Psalm 10:8) "In secret places he slay the innocent [=Naki]." They brought Netzer. He said to them: Will Netzer be killed? It is written (Isaiah 11:1) "A branch [=Netzer] shall spring up from his roots." They said to him: Yes, Netzer will be killed as it is written (Isaiah 14:19) "You are cast forth out of your grave like an abominable branch [=Netzer]." They brought Buni. He said to them: Will Buni be killed? It is written (Exodus 4:22) "My son [=Beni], my firstborn, Israel." They said to him: Yes, Buni will be killed as it is written (Exodus 4:23) "Behold, I slay your son [=Bincha] your firstborn." They brought Todah. He said to them: Will Todah be killed? It is written (Psalm 100:1) "A Psalm for thanksgiving [=Todah]." They said to him: Yes, Todah will be killed as it is written (Psalm 50:23) "Whoever sacrifices thanksgiving [=Todah] honors me."
Scholars who promote the conclusion that Jesus is a myth sometimes use this early rabbinic literature to argue that the Jesus stories of the gospels derive from a Jewish teacher in the 1st or 2nd century BCE.
Louis Jacobs writes that Jewish "attitudes towards the personality of Jesus, and on how Jews should view Jesus from the point of view of Judaism, vary from the belief that Jesus is not a historical figure at all to the acceptance of Jesus as an ancient Jewish ‘Rabbi’ or profound ethical teacher, a view rejected by all Orthodox Jews and by many Reform Jews. The whole question is befogged by the impossibility of disentangling the historical Jesus from the Jesus of Paul and the Synoptic Gospels, and by the central role that Jesus occupies in the Christian religion."
Dead Sea Scrolls
The Dead Sea scrolls are first century or older writings that show the language and customs of some Jews of Jesus' time. According to clergyman and New Testament scholar Henry Chadwick, similar uses of languages and viewpoints recorded in the New testament and the Dead Sea scrolls are valuable in showing that the New Testament portrays the first century period that it reports and is not a product of a later period.
Thallus, of whom very little is known, wrote a history from the Trojan War to, according to Eusebius, 109 BC. No work of Thallus survives. There is one reference to Thallus having written about events beyond 109 BC. Julius Africanus, writing c. 221, while writing about the crucifixion of Jesus, mentioned Thallus. Thus:
On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in his third book of History, calls (as appears to me without reason) an eclipse of the sun.
Lucian, a second century Romano-Syrian satirist, who wrote in Greek, wrote:
The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day — the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account… You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.
Celsus wrote, about 180, a book against the Christians, which is now only known through Origen's refutation of it. Celsus apparently accused Jesus of being a magician and a sorcerer and is quoted as saying that Jesus was a "mere man". F. F. Bruce noted that Celsus, in seeking to discredit Jesus, sought to explain his miracles rather than claim they never occurred.
The Acts of Pilate is purportedly an official document from Pilate reporting events in Judea to the Emperor Tiberius (thus, it would have been among the commentarii principis). It was mentioned by Justin Martyr, in his First Apology (c. 150) to Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, and Lucius Verus. He said that his claims concerning Jesus' crucifixion, and some miracles, could be verified by referencing the official record, the "Acts of Pontius Pilate". With the exception of Tertullian, no other writer is known to have mentioned the work, and Tertullian's reference says that Tiberius debated the details of Jesus' life before the Roman Senate, an event that is almost universally considered absurd. There is a later apocryphal text, undoubtedly fanciful, by the same name, and though it is generally thought to have been inspired by Justin's reference (and thus to post-date his Apology), it is possible that Justin mentioned this text, though that would give the work an unusually early date and therefore is not a straightforward identification.
Jesus is featured in Biblical manuscripts throughout the New Testament such as the Pauline Epistles, the Gospels, and the book of Acts. According to New Testament scholar Edgar V. McKnight, a Baptist minister, they confirm the historicity of Jesus.
Paul of Tarsus was a 1st century Hellenistic Jew, who attempted to suppress the new Christian sect, but experienced a conversion to faith in Jesus around c 37. Paul dictated letters to various churches and individuals from c. 48–68. Fourteen letters are traditionally attributed to Paul, thirteen of which claim to be written by the man (the Epistle to the Hebrews is anonymous). Current scholarship generally believes that at least seven of these letters are authentic Pauline compositions, with views varying concerning the remaining works. According to Ehrman, the practice of Christian forgery has a long and distinguished history.
According to O'Connor, the historical Jesus is fundamental to the teachings of Paul. While not personally an eye-witness of Jesus' ministry, Paul states that he was acquainted with people who had known Jesus: the apostle Peter (also known as Cephas), the apostle John, and James, the brother of Jesus. However, according to Furnish, what the apostle emphasizes is the vision that he had been granted of the resurrected Jesus, revealed as God's son. Whatever Paul had known about Jesus before then, whether firsthand or secondhand, was of lesser importance to him. The vision was decisive.
The four gospels found in the New Testament—the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Luke, and the Gospel of John—are fuller, detailed accounts of Jesus. These accounts focus specifically on his ministry, and conclude with his death and resurrection.
New Testament scholars subject the gospels to critical analysis, attempting to differentiate authentic, reliable information from what they judge to be inventions, exaggerations, and alterations. Historians consider the synoptic gospels to contain much reliable historical information about the historical Jesus as a Galilean teacher and of the religious movement he founded, but many scholars conclude that not everything contained in the gospels is considered to be historically reliable. David Jenkins, a former Anglican Bishop of Durham and university professor, has stated that “There is absolutely no certainty in the New Testament about anything of importance.”
The baptism of Jesus, his preaching, and the crucifixion of Jesus, are generally deemed to be historically authentic, while the two accounts of the nativity of Jesus, as well as certain details about the crucifixion and the resurrection, are subject to dispute.
The canonical gospels are anonymous and were originally untitled, but since at least the 2nd century these documents have been associated with certain personalities, the associations providing the traditional titles: Matthew was to have been written by Matthew, one of the Twelve apostles of Jesus; Mark was to have been written by Mark, an associate of Simon Peter, also one of the Twelve; Luke was to have been written by Luke, a traveling companion of Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles; John was to have written by John, another of the Twelve.
The first three gospels, known as the synoptic gospels, share much material. As a result of various scholarly hypotheses attempting to explain this interdependence, the traditional association of the texts with their authors has become the subject of debate. Though some solutions retain the traditional authorship, other solutions reject some or all of these claims. The solution most commonly held in academia today is the two-source hypothesis, which posits that Mark and a hypothetical 2nd source, called the Q document, were used as sources for Matthew and Luke. The Farrer hypothesis dispenses with Q by positing that Matthew used Mark, and Luke used both Matthew and Mark as sources. Other solutions, such as the Augustinian hypothesis and Griesbach hypothesis, posit that Matthew was written first and that Mark was an epitome. Scholars who accept the two-source hypothesis or the Farrer hypothesis generally date Mark to just prior to 70, with Matthew and Luke dating to 80–90. Scholars who accept Matthean priority usually date all the synoptic gospels to before 70, with some arguing for dates as early as 40. John is most often dated to 90–100, though a date as early as the 60s, and as late as the 2nd century have been argued by a few. The author of the Q source shows a great interest in the historical Jesus and mainly records saying of Jesus.
"Thus our prime sources about the life of Jesus were written within about fifty years of his death by people who perhaps knew him, but certainly by people who knew people who knew him. If this is beginning to sound slightly second hand, we may wish to consider two points. First... most ancient and medieval history was written from a much greater distance. Second, all the gospel writers could have talked to people who were present, and while perhaps not eyewitnesses themselves, their position is certainly the next best thing."
However, Ehrman has stated ".....they are not written by eyewitnesses who were contemporary with the events they narrate. They were written thirty-ﬁve to sixty-ﬁve years after Jesus’ death by people who did not know him, did not see anything he did or hear anything that he taught, people who spoke a different language from his and lived in a different country from him." The reason for composition of the gospels is given in the scriptural material itself, as being due to the death of a number of eyewitnesses to the events described, and the need to combat alternative versions of the events which were emerging.
Sources behind the gospels
The four canonical gospels were based on earlier, no longer extant sources. Famously, the two-source hypothesis posits the authors of Matthew and Luke both used Mark and a theoretical Q source as the basis of their gospels. Q is defined as the "common" material found in Matthew and Luke but not in Mark. Scholars also suggest the material unique to Matthew and Luke represent independent source traditions, usually called M and L, whether they actually represent a single source or multiple sources, an actual document or oral tradition. The Gospel of John, often seen as the product of more than one author or redactor, has been suggested to have a number of written sources behind it as well, such as the signs or semeia source, a source for the discourse narratives, and a source for the passion narrative.
Ehrman emphasizes that "[t]he sources of the Gospels are riddled with just the same problems that we found in the Gospels themselves: they, too, represent traditions that were passed down by word of mouth, year after year, among Christians who sometimes changed the stories—indeed, sometimes invented the stories—as they retold them." Theissen and Merz state "Q is certainly the most important source for reconstructing the teachings of Jesus. However, here too the authentic traditions of Jesus occur in, with and under the sayings of generations after him. Therefore a very different picture of Jesus can be reconstructed from the Q tradition." Another important aspect of identifying sources underlying the gospels is that they may qualify as independent lines of inquiry when it comes to the criterion of multiple attestation. However, why the Q collection was created and whether it was written or oral are matters of continuing speculation and debate. And more is unknown than known about this illusive document.
The Acts of the Apostles
The book of the Acts of the Apostles, written at least twenty but probably thirty or forty years after Galatians, gives a detailed account of the emergence of the Christian church in the aftermath of Jesus' ministry.
Ancient Christian creeds
The authors whose works are contained in the New Testament sometimes quote from creeds, or confessions of faith, that obviously predate their writings. Scholars believe that some of these creeds date to within a few years of Jesus' death, and developed within the Christian community in Jerusalem. Though embedded within the texts of the New Testament, these creeds are a distinct source for Early Christianity.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 reads: "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." This contains a Christian creed of pre-Pauline origin. The antiquity of the creed has been located by many Biblical scholars to less than a decade after Jesus' death, originating from the Jerusalem apostolic community. Concerning this creed, Campenhausen wrote, "This account meets all the demands of historical reliability that could possibly be made of such a text," whilst A. M. Hunter said, "The passage therefore preserves uniquely early and verifiable testimony. It meets every reasonable demand of historical reliability."
Other relevant creeds which predate the texts wherein they are found that have been identified are 1 John 4:2: "This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God", "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, this is my Gospel", Romans|1:3-4: "regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.", and 1 Timothy 3:16: "He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory," an early creedal hymn.
New Testament apocrypha
Jesus is a large factor in New Testament apocrypha, works excluded from the canon as it developed because they were judged not to be inspired. These texts are almost entirely dated to the mid 2nd century or later, though a few texts, such as the Didache, may be 1st century in origin. Some of these works are discussed below:
Certain Gnostic texts mention Jesus in the context of his earthly existence, and some scholars have argued that Gnostic texts could contain plausible traditions. Examples of such texts include the Gospel of Truth, Treatise on Resurrection, and the Apocryphon of John, the last of which opens with the following:
It happened one day when John, the brother of James — who are sons of Zebedee — went up and came to the temple, that a Pharisee named Arimanius approached him and said to him: "Where is your master whom you followed?" And he said to them: "He has gone to the place from which he came." The Pharisee said to him: "This Nazarene deceived you all with deception and filled your ears with lies and closed your hearts and turned you from the traditions of your fathers."
Of all the Gnostic texts, however, the Gospel of Thomas has drawn the most attention. While it contains a list of sayings attributed to Jesus, it lacks a narrative that describes his deeds in a historical sense. The majority of scholars date it to the early-mid 2nd century, while a minority view contends for an early date of perhaps 50, citing a relationship to the hypothetical Q document among other reasons.
Early Church fathers
Early Christian sources outside the New Testament also mention Jesus and details of his life. Important texts from the Apostolic Fathers are, to name just the most significant and ancient, Clement of Rome (c. 96), Ignatius of Antioch (c. 107–110), and Justin Martyr.
Perhaps the most significant Patristic sources are the early references of Papias and Quadratus (d. 124), mostly reported by Eusebius in the 4th century, which both mention eyewitnesses of Jesus’ ministry and healings who were still alive in their own time (the late 1st century). Papias, in giving his sources for the information contained in his (largely lost) commentaries, stated (according to Eusebius):
- …if by chance anyone who had been in attendance on the elders should come my way, I inquired about the words of the elders — that is, what according to the elders Andrew or Peter said, or Philip, or Thomas or James, or John or Matthew or any other of the Lord’s disciples, and whatever Aristion and the elder John, the Lord’s disciples, were saying.
Thus, while Papias was collecting his information (c. 90), Aristion and the elder John (who were Jesus’ disciples) were still alive and teaching in Asia minor, and Papias gathered information from people who had known them. Another Father, Quadratus, who wrote an apology to the emperor Hadrian, was reported by Eusebius to have stated:
- The words of our Savior were always present, for they were true: those who were healed, those who rose from the dead, those who were not only seen in the act of being healed or raised, but were also always present, not merely when the Savior was living on earth, but also for a considerable time after his departure, so that some of them survived even to our own times.
By “our Savior” Quadratus means Jesus, and by “our times” it has been argued that he may refer to his early life, rather than when he wrote (117–124), which would be a reference contemporary with Papias.
Overview of scholarly studies of Jesus
Scholarly attempts to construct a verifiable biography of Jesus have been known as "Quests". As originally defined by Albert Schweitzer, the quest began in the 18th century with Hermann Samuel Reimarus, up to William Wrede in the 19th century. The quest is commonly divided into stages, and it continues today among scholars such as the fellows of the Jesus Seminar.
Reimarus composed a treatise rejecting miracles and accusing Bible authors of fraud, but he didn't publish his findings. Gotthold Lessing published Reimarus's conclusions in the Wolfenbuettel fragments. D.F. Strauss's biography of Jesus set Gospel criticism on its modern course. Strauss explained gospel miracles as natural events misunderstood and misrepresented. Ernest Renan was the first of many to portray Jesus simply as a human person. Albrecht Ritschl had reservations about this project, but it became central to liberal Protestantism in Germany and to the Social Gospel movement in America. Martin Kähler protested, arguing that the true Christ is the one preached by the whole Bible, not a historical hypothesis. William Wrede questioned the historical reliability of Mark. Albert Schweitzer showed how histories of Jesus had reflected the historians' bias. Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann repudiated the quest for historical Jesus, and although the introduction of The Five Gospels asserts this it suppressed any real interest in the topic from c 1920 to c 1970, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church says there was a brief New Quest movement in the 50s conducted by Bultmann's students, and the search continued without break outside of the Bultmann school.
As originally defined by Schweitzer, the quest began with Reimarus and ended with Wrede. This period saw the increasing influence of the historical Jesus as an academic and popular topic. Soon after Wrede's work, Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann denounced the whole effort, marking the end of the so-called first quest.
These scholars of what today would be called the Quest for the Historical Jesus applied the historical methodologies of their day to distinguish the mythology from the history of Jesus. Reimarus pioneered "the search for the historical Jesus", applying the Rationalism of the Enlightenment Era to claims about Jesus. Although Schweitzer was among the greatest contributors to this quest, he also ended the quest by noting how each scholar's version of Jesus often seemed to reflect the personal ideals of the scholar, an observation first stated by Johannes Weiss in 1890, and which continues to be observed in Jesus research (as it does in other historical studies) even today.
- Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694–1768) - credited as the father of the Quest for the Historical Jesus
- Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) - a US president who considered Jesus' ethics superb and miracles ahistorical: Jefferson Bible
- David Friedrich Strauss (1808–1874) - asserted that the supernatural elements of the gospels could be treated as myth.
- Ernest Renan (1823–1892) - asserted that the biography of Jesus ought to be open to historical investigation just as is the biography of any other man.
- William Wrede (1859–1906) - wrote on the Messianic Secret theme in the Gospel of Mark. He also wrote a crucial study of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, which argued for its inauthenticity.
- Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965), The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1906) - "Schweitzer saw Jesus' ethic as only an "interim ethic" (a way of life good only for the brief period before the cataclysmic end, the eschaton). As such he found it no longer relevant or valid. Acting on his own conclusion, in 1913 Schweitzer abandoned a brilliant career in theology, turned to medicine, and went out to Africa where he founded the famous hospital at Lambaréné out of respect for all forms of life."]
- Rudolf Bultmann - identified the Signs gospel.
- Martin Dibelius - advocated that form criticism be applied to the New Testament.
Some recent scholars have reasserted Schweitzer's eschatological view of Jesus: see Dale Allison in his 1998 work Jesus of Nazareth, Millenarian Prophet and Bart D. Ehrman in 1999 work Jesus, Apolocyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. Conversely others, such as the Jesus Seminar, have denied the authenticity of Jesus' eschatological message, describing Jesus as a wandering sage.
In the early 19th century, existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard cast doubt on the entire project, stating unequivocally: "It is infinitely beyond history’s capacity to demonstrate that God, the omnipresent One, lived here on earth as an individual human being. History can indeed richly communicate knowledge, but such knowledge annihilates Jesus Christ."
Period of "No Quest"
Schweitzer's critique of historical Jesus research significantly undermined the two-century-old attempt to discover a historical Jesus who conformed to the tenets of Enlightenment Era rationalism. This period lasted from the time of Schweitzer until the Ernst Käsemann's 1953 lecture "The Problem of the Historical Jesus.". Boyd suggests four significant factors contributing to this malaise;
- Schweizer's critique of the Old Quest "produced a Jesus that was unappealing to modern minds" whilst at the same time his emphasis on the nonhistorical motivations of the researcher undermined confidence in the idea that one could write an objective account of the historical Jesus.
- The Old Quest had relied heavily upon the purported reliability of Mark as a source document but confidence in this thesis was decisively undermined by Wrede's critical analysis of Mark's historicity in The Messianic Secret (first published as Das Messiasgeheimnis in den Evangelien: Zugleich ein Beitrag zum Verständnis des Markusevangeliums in 1901).
- The rise of form criticism, with its emphasis on oral transmission and development of Jesus traditions together with adherence to a naturalistic world-view, "served to place an apparently immovable wall of early Christian distortion between the Gospel texts and the historical Jesus".
- A new theological perspective on the importance of historical Jesus research. Following Martin Kähler, it was increasingly accepted that "the vicissitudes of historical research with their more or less probable results could never provide a foundation for faith." This led to the widely proclaimed distinction between "the Jesus of History" and "the Christ of Faith." (Evans, 1996)
The most prominent figure from the period of "no quest" was Rudolf Bultmann. He was intensely skeptical regarding the historical Jesus and argued that the only thing we can know about Jesus is the sheer "thatness" (German: Dass) of his historical existence, and very little else. He considered the Gospels conveyed the meaning of Jesus proclamation in the dress of a "mythical" 1st-century world-view and argued that the Gospels must be stripped of these mythical forms ("demythologised") in order that scientifically literate persons might encounter Jesus message. By appealing to Heidegger's existential philosophy, Bultmann was able to lay an emphasis upon response to Jesus message, whilst downplaying the significance of Jesus as a historical figure. Through this period British scholars tended to be less radical than their German counterparts and retained some confidence in the possibility of "reaching assured knowledge of the historical personality of Jesus."
The Second Quest (also called the New Quest) was a brief movement in the 1950s to revive the quest for historical Jesus. These scholars emphasized the "constraints of history", so that despite uncertainties there were historical data that were usable. Moreover they disputed claims of extreme lateness for the formation of the New Testament and generally accomplished a consensus of approximately year 70 AD, give-or-take a decade or two depending on a specific text. Likewise they emphasized how the redaction of the New Testament resulted from a process over time, so that the New Testament included early textual layers, around which later and later layers crystallized. The form of the Gospel of Thomas was often argued to corroborate the existence of the Q Gospel, whose hypothetical form would resemble it. Hypothesizing about the existence of original source texts became useful for data relevant to the Historical Jesus. These early texts continue to remain hypothetical unless future discoveries render proof of their existence. See, for example, Gunther Bornkamm, Ernst Käsemann, and James M. Robinson.
As the Bultmann school faded, it became increasingly clear that the "new quest" was one-sided. Scholars of the new quest had a theological agenda, and they attempted to separate Jesus from Judaism and from the earliest Christian heresies. As such, they preferred orthodox sources. The scholars of the third quest have also been accused of mixing apologetics with scholarship. John Meier has said "...I think a lot of the confusion comes from the fact that people claim they are doing a quest for the historical Jesus when de facto they’re doing theology, albeit a theology that is indeed historically informed. Go all the way back to Reimarus..." The "third quest" appeared first among English-speaking scholars, and sociological investigation replaced the theological orientation of the "new quest." There were, however, earlier important works by Jewish scholars such as Constantin Brunner (Our Christ: The Revolt of the Mystical Genius, original in German, 1921) and Joseph Klausner (Jesus of Nazareth, original in Hebrew, 1922). The three characteristics typical of the "third quest" are an interest in the social history, a Jewish context for Jesus (especially restoration eschatology), and attention paid to non-canonical sources. The "third quest" is split between those scholars who advocate a return to a non-eschatological picture of Jesus and those who see him as leading an eschatological restoration movement.
These scholars tend to focus on the early textual layers of the New Testament for data to reconstruct a biography for the Historical Jesus. Many of these scholars rely on a redactive critique of the hypothetical Q Gospel and on a Greco-Roman "Mediterranean" milieu as opposed to a Jewish milieu and tend to view Jesus as a radical philosopher of Wisdom literature, who strives to destabilize the economic status quo. Some scholars also rely on a critique of non-canonical texts for early textual layers that possibly evidence Jesus. See, for example, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, Robert Funk, and Burton Mack.
The Jewishness of Jesus is first and foremost. These scholars use the archeology of Israel and the analysis of formative Jewish literature, including the Mishna, Dead Sea Scrolls, New Testament (as a Jewish text) and Josephus, to reconstruct the ancient worldviews of Jews in the 1st-century Roman provinces of Iudaea and Galilaea, and only afterward investigate how Jesus fits in. The focus on Jesus' social environment rather than on Jesus himself is an intentional methodology to increase the influence of verifiable scientific criteria for evaluating Jesus and to reduce the influence of personal subjective criteria. Such scholars include David Bivin, Roy Blizzard, Raymond E. Brown, James D. G. Dunn, Robert Eisenman, Harvey Falk, Paula Fredriksen, E.P. Sanders, David H. Stern, Geza Vermes, and N. T. Wright.
- Alexamenos graffito
- Authorship of the Johannine works
- Authorship of the Pauline Epistles
- Benjamin Urrutia
- Biblical archaeology (excavations and artifacts)
- Cultural and historical background of Jesus
- Death and Resurrection of Jesus
- Historical Jesus
- History of Christianity
- Internal consistency of the Bible
- Jesus the Man (book)
- Jesus Seminar
- List of artifacts significant to the Bible
- Markan priority
- New Testament apocrypha
- Textual criticism
- The Bible and history
- The Teacher of Righteousness
- Toledoth Jeschu
- Two source hypothesis
- Yuz Asaf
- ^ a b Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994); pages 90-91
- ^ a b Howard M. Teeple (March 1970). "The Oral Tradition That Never Existed". Journal of Biblical Literature 89 (1): 56–68. doi:10.2307/3263638.
- ^ a b Boyd (2007), The Jesus Legend: a Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, p. 24-25
- ^ Christopher M. Tuckett, "Sources and Methods" in The Cambridge Companion to Jesus (London: Cambridge University Press, 2001) p. 124
- ^ Marcus Borg, "A Vision of the Christian Life", The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, Marcus Borg & N. T. Wright (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2007) p. 236.
- ^ Robert Funk, Honest to Jesus: Jesus for a New Millenium (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997) p. 33
- ^ Brown, Raymond E. (1994). The Death of the Messiah: from Gethsemane to the Grave: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives in the Four Gospels. New York: Doubleday, Anchor Bible Reference Library. p. 964. ISBN 978-0-385-19397-9.
- ^ Grant, Michael. pp. 34–35, 78, 166, 200.
- ^ Meier, John P. (1993). 1:68, 146, 199, 278, 386, 2:726. Sanders. pp. 12–13.
- ^ "Although ancient traditions attributed to the Apostle John the Fourth Gospel, the Book of Revelation, and the three Epistles of John, modern scholars believe that he wrote none of them." Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible (Palo Alto: Mayfield, 1985) p. 355
- ^ Bart Erhman (2004), p. 92
- ^ For a review of the debate see: Paul Foster, Why Did Matthew Get the Shema Wrong? A Study of Matthew 22:37, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 122, No. 2 (Summer, 2003), pp. 309-333
- ^ a b Bart D. Ehrman (2005:235) Lost Christianities: the battles for scripture and the faiths we never knew Oxford University Press, New York.
- ^ Bart D. Ehrman (2004:110) Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine. Oxford University Press.
- ^ Bart D. Ehrman (2006:143) The lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: a new look at betrayer and betrayed. Oxford University Press.
- ^ E P Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, (Penguin, 1995) page 63 - 64.
- ^ Bart D. Ehrman (2000:43) The New Testament: a historical introduction to early Christian writings. Oxford University Press.
- ^ Geoffrey W. Bromiley (1995:287) International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: K-P MATTHEW, GOSPEL ACCORDING TO. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. Citat: „Matthew, like the other three Gospels is an anonymous document.”
- ^ Donald Senior, Paul J. Achtemeier, Robert J. Karris (2002:328) Invitation to the Gospels Paulist Press.
- ^ Keith Fullerton Nickle (2001:43) The Synoptic Gospels: an introduction Westminster John Knox Press.
- ^ Ben Witherington (2004:44) The Gospel code: novel claims about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Da Vinci InterVarsity Press.
- ^ F.F. Bruce (1994:1) The Gospel of John Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.
- ^ Patrick J. Flannagan (1997:16) The Gospel of Mark Made Easy Paulist Press
- ^ Bart D. Ehrman (2004:111) Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine. Oxford University Press.
- ^ Peter Schäfer, Jesus in the Talmud, Princeton University Press, 2007
- ^ Van Voorst, Robert E. Jesus outside the New Testament. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2000, p. 5.
- ^ a b The Myth about Jesus, Allvar Ellegard 1992,
- ^ a b Craig Evans, "Life-of-Jesus Research and the Eclipse of Mythology," Theological Studies 54 (1993) p. 5,
- ^ a b Charles H. Talbert, What Is a Gospel? The Genre of Canonical Gospels pg 42 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977).
- ^ a b “The Historical Figure of Jesus," Sanders, E.P., Penguin Books: London, 1995, p., 3.
- ^ a b Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word (Vol. II): Meditations on the Gospel According to St. Matthew – Dr Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, Ignatius Press, Introduction
- ^ a b Grant, Robert M., "A Historical Introduction to the New Testament" (Harper and Row, 1963), religion-online.org
- ^ a b c Who is Jesus? Answers to your questions about the historical Jesus, by John Dominic Crossan, Richard G. Watts (Westminster John Knox Press 1999), page 108
- ^ a b c James G. D. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, (Eerdmans, 2003) page 779-781.
- ^ a b c Stagg, Evelyn and Frank. Woman in the World of Jesus. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978 ISBN 0664241956
- ^ a b c Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998. "Empty Tomb, Appearances & Ascension" p. 449-495.
- ^ a b c Bruce M. Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament: is missing in some important early witnesses, varies between the Alexandrian and Western versions.
- ^ White, L. Michael. From Jesus to Christianity. HarperCollins, 2004, pp. 3–4: "This is one of the problems with the story. We have no writings from the days of Jesus himself. Jesus never wrote anything, nor do we have any contemporary accounts of his life or death. There are no court records, official diaries, or newspaper accounts that might provide firsthand information. Nor are there any eyewitnesses whose reports were preserved unvarnished. Even though they may contain earlier sources or oral traditions, all the Gospels come from later times. Discerning which material is early and which is late becomes an important task. In fact, the earliest writings that survive are the genuine letters of Paul. They were written some twenty to thirty years after the death of Jesus. Yet Paul was not a follower of Jesus during his lifetime; nor does he ever claim to have seen Jesus during his ministry."
- ^ The politics of Christianity: a talk with Elaine Pagels The problem I have with all these versions of the so called "historical Jesus" is that they each choose certain early sources as their central evidence, and each presents a part of the picture. My own problem with this, as a historian, is that none of the historical evidence actually goes back as far as Jesus—so these various speculations are that, and nothing more.
- ^ Ehrman, Bart. Jesus Interrupted p. 148 "...if Jesus lived and died in the ﬁrst century (death around 30CE), what do the Greek and Roman sources from his own day through the end of the century (say, the year 100) have to say about him? The answer is breathtaking. They have absolutely nothing to say about him. He is never discussed, challenged, attacked, maligned, or talked about in any way in any surviving pagan source of the period. There are no birth records, accounts of his trial and death, reﬂections on his signiﬁcance, or disputes about his teachings. In fact, his name is never mentioned once in any pagan source. And we have a lot of Greek and Roman sources from the period: religious scholars, historians, philosophers, poets, natural scientists; we have thousands of private letters; we have inscriptions placed on buildings in public places. In no ﬁrst-century Greek or Roman (pagan) source is Jesus mentioned."
- ^ The Jesus We'll Never Know ...let's not forget historical Jesus scholars, whose academic goal is to study the records, set the evidence in historical context, render judgment about the value of the evidence, and compose a portrait of "what Jesus was really like." They, too, have ended up making Jesus in their own image.
- ^ Arnal, William. The symbolic Jesus ...scholarship on the historical Jesus uses the figure of Jesus as a screen or symbol on which to project contemporary cultural debates, and to employ the inherent authority of this Jesus-figure to advance one or another particular stance on these debates.
- ^ Eddy, Paul R. and Boyd, Gregory A. The Jesus Legend. Baker Academic, 2007, pp. 24–27.
- ^ Crossan, John Dominic (1999). The birth of Christianity: discovering what happened in the years immediately after the execution of Jesus. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 10. ISBN 9780567086686. http://books.google.com/?id=GaYKGrqXCwEC&pg=PR10
- ^ Paul Barnett, "Is the New Testament History?", p.1.
- ^ a b Rev. John Edmunds, 1855 The seven sayings of Christ on the cross Thomas Hatchford Publishers, London, page 26
- ^ Jesus, by C. Guignebert, translated by S. H. Hooke (University of London), University Books, New York, 1956, p132.
- ^ Jesus, C. Guignebert, 1956, p473.
- ^ Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus: First Complete Edition, trans. W. Montgomery, et al., ed. John Bowden (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), 478.ch. 20, Results
- ^ Eisenman, Robert(1997) "James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls". (Viking Penguin)
- ^ Kung, Hans (2004) "Islam: Past, Present and Future" (One World Press)
- ^ Marshall, Ian Howard. I Believe in the Historical Jesus. Regent College Publishing, 2004, p. 24.
- ^ a b Remsburg, John (1909) The Christ
- ^ Barker, Dan (2006) Losing Faith in Faith pg 372
- ^ Boyd-Eddy (2007), The Jesus Legend: a Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, p. 24-25
- ^ Dawkins, Richard (2008) The God Delusion (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, pg 97)
- ^ …the historian in this case, as in so many others, will say neither "The evidence is that he lived there and then" nor "The evidence is that he did not live there and then". The logical possibility of the existence of Jesus (at the religiously assumed place and time) cannot be denied, but the evidence seems to be too weak to give such a statement a minimum probability..... Theologians as Historians the statement by historian Rolf Torstendahl, p 197,retrieved 10/9/10
- ^ Stanton, Graham. The Gospels and Jesus. Oxford University Press, 2002, p. xxiii. Stanton writes: "Today nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which has to be weighed and assessed critically."
- ^ Meier, John P. "Jesus Among the Historians" 1986-12-21 New York Times Section 7, Page 1. Retrieved 2010-10-11
- ^ Powell, Mark Allan. Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee Westminster John Knox Press (1998) p. 168
- ^ Hoffmann, Joseph. "Threnody: Rethinking the Thinking behind The Jesus Project". http://www.bibleinterp.com/opeds/hoffman1044.shtml. Retrieved 5 January 2011. "... And second, because I have often made the claim that it has been largely theological interests since Strauss’s time that ruled the historicity question out of court. ..."
- ^ Van Voorst, p. 8 *Constantin-François Volney, Les ruines, ou Méditations sur les révolutions des empires (Paris: Desenne, 1791); English translation, The Ruins, or a Survey of the Revolutions of Empires (New York: Davis, 1796). *C. F. Dupuis, Origine de tous les cultes (Paris: Chasseriau, 1794); English translation, The Origin of All Religious Worship (New York: Garland, 1984). *Durant, Will. Caesar and Christ. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1972
- ^ Wells, G. A. "Stages of New Testament Criticism," Journal of the History of Ideas, volume 30, issue 2, 1969.
- ^ Will Durant, Caesar and Christ, 1944:553-7
- ^ Martin, Michael (1991). The Case Against Christianity. Philadelphia: Temple university press. p. 37. ISBN 0877227675. http://books.google.com/?id=wWkC4dTmK0AC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Case+Against+Christianity++By+Michael+Martin#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2011-Jan-05. "In the last thirty years, Guy Fau, Prosper Alfaric, W. B. Smith, John Allegro, and G. A. Wells have all denied the historicity of Jesus."
- ^ Stanton, Graham. The Gospels and Jesus. Oxford University Press, 2002; first published 1989, p. 145. He writes: "Today nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which has to be weighed and assessed critically."
- ^ Wood, Herbert George (1934). Christianity and the Nature of History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. xxxiii & 54. ISBN 9781001439921. http://books.google.com/?id=lhE8AAAAIAAJ.
- ^ J. G. D. Dunn, The Christ and the Spirit, Volume I: Christology, (Eerdmans / T & T Clark, 1998), page 191.
- ^ Martin, Michael (1991). The Case Against Christianity. Philadelphia: Temple university press. p. 36. ISBN 0877227675. http://books.google.com/?id=wWkC4dTmK0AC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Case+Against+Christianity++By+Michael+Martin#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2011-Jan-05. "...True, at one point in time, the question of Jesus' historicity was a much more popular one for discussion than it is now, but the issue is far from resolved today...."
- ^ G. R. S. Mead : Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.? pp. 50–51
- ^ Gnosis.org
- ^ Jesus by Ch. Guignebert (Translated from the French by S. H. Hooke, Samuel Davidson Professor of Old Testament Studies, University of London), University Books, New Yory, 1956, p22.
- ^ Weaver, Walter P. (1999). The historical Jesus in the twentieth century, 1900–1950. Volume 1. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 174. ISBN 1563382806. http://books.google.com/?id=1CZbuFBdAMUC&pg=PA174&lpg=PA174. Retrieved 25 August 2009
- ^ Pliny to Trajan, Letters 10.96–97
- ^ Jesus, by Ch. Gugnebert, Professor of History of Christianity in the Sorbonne, Translated from the French by S. H. Hooke, Samuel Davidson Professor of Old Testament Studies in the University of London, University Book, New York, 1956, p. 14
- ^ Tacitus, Annals 15.44 (Latin, English and also at Fordham.edu)
- ^ Robert Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament, pp. 42–43 as quoted at earlychristianwritings.com
- ^ Robert E. Van Voorst (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Wm. B. Eerdmans. p. 43. ISBN 0802843689. See also the criterion of embarrassment.
- ^ F.F. Bruce,Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974) p. 23
- ^ a b Ehrman p 212
- ^ Theissen and Merz p.83
- ^ Jesus, University Books, New York, 1956, p.13
- ^ France, RT (1986). Evidence for Jesus (Jesus Library). Trafalgar Square Publishing. pp. 19–20. ISBN 0340381728.
- ^ For example R. T. France, writes "The brief notice in Tacitus Annals xv.44 mentions only his title, Christus, and his execution in Judea by order of Pontius Pilatus. Nor is there any reason to believe that Tacitus bases this on independent information-it is what Christians would be saying in Rome in the early second century ... No other clear pagan references to Jesus can be dated before AD 150, by which time the source of any information is more likely to be Christian propaganda than an independent record." The Gospels As Historical Sources For Jesus, The Founder Of Christianity, Truth Journal Leaderu.com
- ^ Theissen, Gerd; Merz, Annette (1998). The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. p. 83. ISBN 9780800631222. http://books.google.com/?id=3ZU97DQMH6UC&pg=PA83.
- ^ Iudaeos, impulsore Chresto, assidue tumultuantes Roma expulit; Uchicago.edu
- ^ see his translation of Suetonius, Claudius 25, in The Twelve Caesars (Baltimore: Penguin, 1957), and his introduction p. 7, cf. p. 197
- ^ Francois Amiot, Jesus A Historical Person p. 8; F. F. Bruce, Christian Origins p. 21
- ^ R. T. France. The Evidence for Jesus. (2006). Regent College Publishing ISBN 1573833703. p. 42; ]:
- ^ "Jewish Encyclopedia: Rome: Expelled Under Tiberius". http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=352&letter=R&search=Sejanus#1006.
- ^ Suetonius, Nero 16
- ^ See extended discussion, Van Voorst (2000) p 29–39
- ^ Doherty (1999) p. 203
- ^ Josephus Antiquities 18.3.3
- ^ Feldman (1989), p. 430
- ^ Alice Whealey, Josephus on Jesus (New York, 2003) p.194.
- ^ Vermes, Géza. (1987). The Jesus notice of Josephus re-examined. Journal of Jewish Studies
- ^ i.e. Daniel-Rops, Silence of Jesus' Contemporaries p. 21 and G. R. Habermas, The Historical Jesus p. 193
- ^ John Drane Introducing the New Testament (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986) p. 138; John P. Meier. A Marginal Jew (Anchor Bible Reference Library, 1991) v.1; also, James H. Charlesworth, Jesus Within Judaism (Garden City: Doubleday, 1988) p. 96
- ^ Henri Daniel-Rops, Silence of Jesus' Contemporaries p. 21; J.N.D. Anderson, Christianity: The Witness of History (London: Tyndale, 1969)p. 20; F.F. Bruce, New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1967) p. 108
- ^ Josephus Antiquities 20:9.1
- ^ Louis H. Feldman, "Josephus" Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 3, pp. 990–91
- ^ "Testimonium Flavianum". EarlyChristanWritings.com. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/testimonium.html#reference. Retrieved 07 October 2006.
- ^ "Hegesippus (Roberts-Donaldson translation). On Early Christian Writings.". EarlyChristanWritings.com. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/hegesippus.html. Retrieved 24 September 2010.
- ^ "In spite of obvious knowledge of Josephus, from whom he may have derived the motif of the stoning of James, Hegesippus has produced his own account with irreconcilable conflicts with Josephus." Chilton, Bruce; Jacob Neusner (2001) The brother of Jesus: James the Just and his mission Westminster John Knox Press, Page 53
- ^ Origin Commentary on Matthew 10.17; Against Celsus 1.47
- ^ L. Michael White, From Jesus to Christianity. HarperCollinsPublishers, 2004. P. 97–98
- ^ Josephus on Jesus,p. 8, p. 11.
- ^ F.E Peters, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam Vol.1 p. 149
- ^ Agapius Kitab al-'Unwan, 239–240
- ^ Alice Whealey, "The Testimonium Flavianum in Syriac and Arabic" New Testament Studies 54.4 (2008).
- ^ a b c d e f g Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press. 1998. translated from German (1996 edition)
- ^ CCEL
- ^ a b Sanhedrin 43a.
- ^ Doherty, Earl (2005), "The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus" (Age of Reason Publications)
- ^ Jacobs, Louis. "Jesus" in A Concise Companion to the Jewish Religion. Oxford University Press, 1999.
- ^ Douglas R. Edwards (2004). Religion and society in Roman Palestine: old questions, new approaches. Routledge. pp. 164–. ISBN 9780415305976. http://books.google.com/?id=Wq-zBEqzRx0C&pg=PA164. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
- ^ Henry Chadwick (2003). The Church in ancient society: from Galilee to Gregory the Great. Oxford University Press. pp. 15–. ISBN 9780199265770. http://books.google.com/?id=nLic1cabc8gC&pg=PA15. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
- ^ George J. Brooke (1 May 2005). The Dead Sea scrolls and the New Testament. Fortress Press. pp. 20–. ISBN 9780800637231. http://books.google.com/?id=hPx8vvYPuc8C&pg=PA20. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
- ^ Julius Africanus, Extant Writings XVIII in Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973) vol. VI, p. 130
- ^ Lucian, The Death of Peregrine, 11–13 in The Works of Lucian of Samosata, translated by H. W. Fowler (Oxford: Clarendon, 1949) vol. 4
- ^ Morton Smith, Jesus the Magician: Charlatan or Son of God? (1978) pp. 78–79.
- ^ Celsus the First Nietzsche
- ^ Bruce, F.F. (1981). The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 9780802822192. http://books.google.com/?id=mtyPMWgtKLMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+new+testament+documents#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- ^ Justin Martyr, First Apology 48
- ^ see Tertullian, Apology V
- ^ for a discussion, see Daniel-Rops, Silence of Jesus' Contemporaries, p. 14
- ^ Edgar V. McKnight (1999). Jesus Christ in history and Scripture: a poetic and sectarian perspective. Mercer University Press. pp. 39–. ISBN 9780865546776. http://books.google.com/books?id=DCiwkBcSJiEC&pg=PA39. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
- ^ Christopher S. Mackay (2004). Ancient Rome: a military and political history. Cambridge University Press. pp. 284–. ISBN 9780521809184. http://books.google.com/books?id=6rLDy6qqi0UC&pg=PA284. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
- ^ Joseph Barber Lightfoot in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians writes: "At this point Gal 6:11 the apostle takes the pen from his amanuensis, and the concluding paragraph is written with his own hand. From the time when letters began to be forged in his name (2 Thess 2:2; 3:17) it seems to have been his practice to close with a few words in his own handwriting, as a precaution against such forgeries… In the present case he writes a whole paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse, eager, disjointed sentences. He writes it, too, in large, bold characters (Gr. pelikois grammasin), that his handwriting may reflect the energy and determination of his soul."
- ^ Stanley E. Porter (2004). The Pauline canon. BRILL. p. 162. ISBN 9789004138919. http://books.google.com/books?id=aP77YJuJd9IC&pg=PA1. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
- ^ Ehrman. Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make it into the New Testament. p. 3. ISBN 0195222296. "...The practice of Christian forgery has a long and distinguished history. We know of Gospels and other sacred books forged in the names of the apostles down into the Middle Ages—and on, in fact, to the present day..."
- ^ Jerome Murphy-O'Connor (1 May 1998). Paul: a critical life. Oxford University Press. pp. 91–. ISBN 9780192853424. http://books.google.com/?id=yTddaMGsuWMC&pg=PA91. Retrieved 28 July 2010.
- ^ Furnish, Victor (1995). Jesus According to Paul. Cambridge University Press. p. 18. ISBN 0521451930. http://books.google.com/?id=pfrmYi13-QwC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Jesus+According+to+Paul.#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 6 January 2011. "...What the apostle emphasizes is the vision that he had been granted of the resurrected Jesus, revealed as God's son. Whatever Paul had known about Jesus before then, whether firsthand or secondhand, was of lesser importance to him. The vision was decisive..."
- ^ Akenson, Donald (1998). Surpassing wonder: the invention of the Bible and the Talmuds. University of Chicago Press. p. 555. ISBN 9780226010731. http://books.google.com/books?id=40E8am9SlwgC&pg=538&dq=%22appeals+to+consensus%22#v=onepage&q=%22appeals%20to%20consensus%22&f=false. Retrieved 2011-Jan-08. "...The letters of Paul are potentially the most important source, and therefore they are also the most disappointing. Paul almost breaks one’s heart…. Paul is a heart breaker because he evinces a lack of interest in the historical Yeshua that borders on disdain. For him, the spiritual Jesus-the-Christ is everything; the physical, historical Yeshua is of scant moment..."
- ^ On John, see S. Byrskog, "Story as History - History as Story", in Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 123 (Tübingen: Mohr, 2000; reprinted Leiden: Brill, 2002), p. 149; Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006) p. 385.
- ^ Sanders, E. P. The historical figure of Jesus. Penguin, 1993.
- ^ "The nonhistoricity thesis has always been controversial, and it has consistently failed to convince scholars of many disciplines and religious creeds. ... Biblical scholars and classical historians now regard it as effectively refuted."—Van Voorst, Robert E. Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000), p. 16.
- ^ "The denial of Jesus' historicity has never convinced any large number of people, in or out of technical circles, nor did it in the first part of the century." Walter P. Weaver, The Historical Jesus in the Twentieth Century, 1900-1950, (Continuum International, 1999), page 71.
- ^ Church.org.uk
- ^ Hengel, Martin, Studies in the Gospel of Mark (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1985) pp. 64 ff.
- ^ For an overview of the synoptic problem that discusses the traditional view in detail, see Drane, Introducing the New Testament (San Francisco: Harper Row, 1986) chapter 11. Also, see Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1990)
- ^ Raymond E. Brown. An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Anchor Bible.
- ^ J.A.T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament. Philadelphia: Westminster Press. 1985. pp.86–92.
- ^ Brown 7
- ^ For an early date, see: J. A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament, and William F. Albright, Towards a More Conservative View, in Christianity Today (18 January 1963); for a late date, see R. Bultmann, Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate; for a brief overview, see also this article at bethinking.org
- ^ Harry T. Fleddermann (December 2005). Q: A Reconstruction And Commentary. Peeters Publishers. pp. 171–. ISBN 9789042916562. http://books.google.com/?id=m8ZqZChVfOIC&pg=PA171. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- ^ Jo Ann H. Moran Cruz and Richard Gerberding, Medieval Worlds: An Introduction to European History Houghton Mifflin Company 2004, pp. 44–45
- ^ Jesus Interrupted, by Bart D. Ehrman,P143,144
- ^ Paul Barnett (2002). Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times. InterVarsity Press. pp. 393–. ISBN 9780830826995. http://books.google.com/?id=NlFYY_iVt9cC&pg=PA393. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- ^ a b Ehrman 1999, p.83
- ^ Erhman 1999, p.80ff
- ^ Meier 1991, p.43ff
- ^ Ehrman 2004, pp.166ff
- ^ Koester 1990, pp.250ff
- ^ Theissen and Merz 1998, p. 29
- ^ Meier 1991, p. 174
- ^ McKnight, Edgar (1999). Jesus Christ in history and Scripture: a poetic and sectarian perspective. p. 46. ISBN 9780865546776. http://books.google.com/books?id=DCiwkBcSJiEC&pg=PA39#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 10 January 2011. "Why the Q collection was created and whether it was written or oral are matters of continuing speculation and debate....Nonetheless more is unknown than known about this illusive document."
- ^ Oscar Cullmann, The Earliest Christian Confessions, translated by J. K. S. Reid, (London: Lutterworth, 1949)
- ^ 1Corinthians 15:3-4
- ^ Neufeld, The Earliest Christian Confessions (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) p. 47
- Reginald H. Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives (New York: Macmillan, 1971) p. 10
- Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus – God and Man translated Lewis Wilkins and Duane Pribe (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1968) p. 90
- Oscar Cullmann, The Earlychurch: Studies in Early Christian History and Theology, ed. A. J. B. Higgins (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966) p. 64
- Hans Conzelmann, 1 Corinthians, translated James W. Leitch (Philadelphia: Fortress 1969) p. 251
- Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament vol. 1 pp. 45, 80–82, 293
- R. E. Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (New York: Paulist Press, 1973) pp. 81, 92
- ^ see Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus – God and Man translated Lewis Wilkins and Duane Pribe (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1968)p. 90; Oscar Cullmann, The Early church: Studies in Early Christian History and Theology, ed. A. J. B. Higgins (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966) p. 66–66; R. E. Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (New York: Paulist Press, 1973) pp. 81; Thomas Sheehan, First Coming: How the Kingdom of God Became Christianity (New York: Random House, 1986 pp. 110, 118; Ulrich Wilckens, Resurrection translated A. M. Stewart (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1977) p. 2; Hans Grass, Ostergeschen und Osterberichte, Second Edition (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1962) p96; Grass favors the origin in Damascus.
- ^ Hans von Campenhausen, "The Events of Easter and the Empty Tomb," in Tradition and Life in the Church (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968) p. 44
- ^ Archibald Hunter, Works and Words of Jesus (1973) p. 100
- ^ James L. Bailey; Lyle D. Vander Broek (1992). Literary forms in the New Testament: a handbook. Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 83–. ISBN 9780664251543. http://books.google.com/?id=E6gg5YCDxucC&pg=PA83. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- ^ 1John 4:2
- ^ Cullmann, Confessions p. 32
- ^ 2Timothy 2:8
- ^ Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament vol 1, pp. 49, 81; Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus translated Norman Perrin (London: SCM Press, 1966) p. 102
- ^ Romans 1:3-4
- ^ Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus – God and Man translated Lewis Wilkins and Duane Pribe (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1968) pp. 118, 283, 367; Neufeld, The Earliest Christian Confessions (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) pp. 7, 50; C. H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980) p. 14
- ^ 1Timothy 3:16
- ^ Reginald Fuller, The Foundations of New Testament Christology (New York: Scriner's, 1965) pp. 214, 216, 227, 239; Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus translated Norman Perrin (London: SCM Press, 1966) p. 102; Neufeld, The Earliest Christian Confessions (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) pp. 7, 9, 128
- ^ James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library in English (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1977) and especially his essay in Hedrick and Hodgson, Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism, and Early Christianity (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1986)
- ^ Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (New York: Random House, 1979)
- ^ R. E. Brown, "The Christians Who Lost Out" in The New York Times Book Review, 20 January 1980 p. 3; Koester in Robinson, Nag Hammadi in English, vol. 2 pp. 4, 47, 68, 150–154, 180. It is important to stress that all these scholars, with perhaps the exception of Pagels (whom the rest were critical of on this point) distanced themselves from using the texts as historical sources for the most part, and only proceeded to consider information therein with great caution.
- ^ Apocryphon of John 1:5-17
- ^ Ehrman, Bart (2003). Lost Christianities. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. xi-xii.
- ^ Koester, Helmut; Lambdin (translator), Thomas O. (1996). "The Gospel of Thomas". In Robinson, James MacConkey. The Nag Hammadi Library in English (Revised ed.). Leiden, New York, Cologne: E. J. Brill. p. 125. ISBN 9004088563. http://books.google.com/books?id=UiSFUJ6al1IC&pg=PA125&vq=%22it+may+well+date+from+the+first+century&dq=%22gospel+of+thomas%22+helmut&as_brr=3&sig=fcJmRiRQXLTb_0u6fAs7xDfDpMA
- ^ Miller 6; it also is not quoted in any contemporary writings, and suffers from a paucity of manuscripts, see these articles at answers.org and ntcanon.org
- ^ Clement, Corinthians 42
- ^ Ignatius, Letter to the Trallians 9, Letter to the Smyrneans 1, 3
- ^ Justin First Apology 30, 32, 34–35, 47–48, 50; Dialogue with Trypho 12, 77, 97, 107–108, &c.
- ^ translation by Richard Bauckham in his Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2006), pp. 15–16.
- ^ Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2006), pp. 15–21.
- ^ Quoted in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4.3.2, translation by Richard Bauckham in his Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2006), p. 53.
- ^ Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2006), pp. 53l.
- ^ Witherington III, Ben (1995). The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. pp. 9–10. ISBN 0830818618
- ^ Boyd, Gregory A. (1995). Cynic Sage or Son of God: Recovering the Real Jesus in an Age of Revisionist Replies. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books/SP Publications. p. 36. ISBN 1564764486
- ^ "Reimarus, Hermann Samuel." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Historical Jesus, Quest of the." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
- ^ "miracle." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
- ^ Funk, Robert W., Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar. The five gospels. HarperSanFrancisco. 1993. Introduction, p 1-30.
- ^ Westarinstitute.org
- ^ Giffordlectures.org
- ^ Søren Kierkegaard (2005) (PDF). Provocations – Spiritual Writings of Søren Kierkegaard. Rifton, NY: Plough/Orbis. p. 69. http://ldolphin.org/Provocations.pdf
- ^ a b Boyd, Gregory A. (1995). Cynic Sage or Son of God: Recovering the Real Jesus in an Age of Revisionist Replies. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books/SP Publications. p. 37. ISBN 1564764486
- ^ Witherington III, Ben (1995). The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. p. 11. ISBN 0830818618
- ^ Strimple, Robert B. (1995). The Modern Search for the Real Jesus: An Introductory Survey to the Historical Roots of Gospels Criticism. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed. pp. 181–126. ISBN 0875524559
- ^ Baillie, D.M. (1973) . God Was in Christ: An Essay on Incarnation and Atonement. London: Faber and Faber. p. 58. ISBN N/A"."
- ^ a b c d e f Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press. 1998. translated from German (1996 edition). Chapter 1. Quest of the historical Jesus. p. 1-16
- ^ Hendel, Ronald (June 2010). "Knowledge and Power in Biblical Scholarship". http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/know357930.shtml. Retrieved 6 January 2011. "...The problem at hand is how to preserve the critical study of the Bible in a professional society that has lowered its standards to the degree that apologetics passes as scholarship..."
- ^ Meier, John. "Finding the Historical Jesus: An Interview With John P. Meier". St. Anthony Messenger. http://www.americancatholic.org/Messenger/Dec1997/feature3.asp. Retrieved 2011-Jan-06. "...I think a lot of the confusion comes from the fact that people claim they are doing a quest for the historical Jesus when de facto they’re doing theology, albeit a theology that is indeed historically informed. Go all the way back to Reimarus, through Schleiermacher, all the way down the line through Bultmann, Kasemann, Bornkamm. These are basically people who are theologians, doing a more modern type of Christology [a faith-based study of Jesus Christ]..."
- Adam, Karl (1933). Jesus Christus. Augsburg: Haas.
- Adam, Karl (1934). The Son of God (English ed.). London: Sheed and Ward.
- Brown, Raymond E. (1997) An Introduction to the New Testament. Doubleday ISBN 0-385-24767-2
- Daniel Boyarin (2004). Border Lines. The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity. University of Pennsylvania Press.
- Doherty, Earl (1999). The Jesus Puzzle. Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? : Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus. ISBN 0-9686014-0-5
- Drews, Arthur & Burns, C. Deslisle (1998). The Christ Myth (Westminster College-Oxford Classics in the Study of Religion). ISBN 1-57392-190-4
- Durant, Will (1944). Caesar and Christ, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-671-11500-6
- Ehrman, Bart D. (1999). Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. New York: Oxford. ISBN 0195124731.
- Ehrman, Bart D. (2004). The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. New York: Oxford. ISBN 0-19-515462-2.
- Ellegård, Alvar Jesus – One Hundred Years Before Christ: A Study In Creative Mythology, (London 1999).
- France, R.T. (2001). The Evidence for Jesus. Hodder & Stoughton.
- Freke, Timothy & Gandy, Peter. The Jesus Mysteries - was the original Jesus a pagan god? ISBN 0-7225-3677-1
- Fuller, Reginald H. (1965). The Foundations of New Testament Christology. Scribners. ISBN 0-684-15532-X.
- George, Augustin & Grelot, Pierre (Eds.) (1992). Introducción Crítica al Nuevo Testamento. Herder. ISBN 84-254-1277-3
- Koester, Helmut (1992). Ancient Christian Gospels. Harrisburg, PA: Continuum. ISBN 0334024501.
- Gowler, David B. (2007). What Are They Saying About the Historical Jesus?. Paulist Press.
- Grant, Michael, Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels, Scribner, 1995. ISBN 0-684-81867-1
- Habermas, Gary R. (1996). The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ ISBN 0-89900-732-5
- Leidner, Harold (1999). The Fabrication of the Christ Myth. ISBN 0-9677901-0-7
- Meier, John P., A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Anchor Bible Reference Library, Doubleday
- (1991), v. 1, The Roots of the Problem and the Person, ISBN 0-385-26425-9
- (1994), v. 2, Mentor, Message, and Miracles, ISBN 0-385-46992-6
- (2001), v. 3, Companions and Competitors, ISBN 0-385-46993-4
- (2009), v. 4, Law and Love, ISBN 978-0300140965
- Mendenhall, George E. (2001). Ancient Israel's Faith and History: An Introduction to the Bible in Context. ISBN 0-664-22313-3
- Messori, Vittorio (1977). Jesus hypotheses. St Paul Publications. ISBN 0-85439-154-1
- Miller, Robert J. Editor (1994) The Complete Gospels. Polebridge Press. ISBN 0-06-065587-9
- Murphy, Catherine M. PhD. 2007. "The Historical Jesus for Dummies". ISBN 0470167858
- New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, New Revised Standard Version. (1991) New York, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-528356-2
- Price, Robert M. (2000). Deconstructing Jesus. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-758-9.
- Price, Robert M. (2003). The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable is the Gospel Tradition?. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-59102-121-9.
- Tacitus (2006), The Annals of Ancient Rome. Translated by Michael Grant and first published in this form in 1956. The Folio Society, 2006.
- Wells, George A. (1988). The Historical Evidence for Jesus. Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-429-X
- Wells, George A. (1998). The Jesus Myth. ISBN 0-8126-9392-2
- Wells, George A. (2004). Can We Trust the New Testament?: Thoughts on the Reliability of Early Christian Testimony. ISBN 0-8126-9567-4
- Wilson, Ian (2000). Jesus: The Evidence (1st ed.). Regnery Publishing.
- From Jesus to Christ, a PBS site.
- The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, by F.F. Bruce.
- The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede, by Albert Schweitzer
- Jesus - History or Myth? (debate between historical scholars)
- Surpassing wonder: the invention of the Bible and the Talmuds By Donald Harman Akenson
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