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The Historical Jesus: Five Views Paperback – October 8, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (October 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830838686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830838684
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Skeptical rationalists such as Reimarus and Strauss would never have guessed that their project of uncovering the historical Jesus would attract professing Christians. But here, in this provocative volume, readers find twenty-first-century Christians actually justifying that project as an obligation of their faith in the Incarnation. Readers thus hear—as one of the five researchers presented here in dialogue—from a Catholic scholar arguing that just as the study of history can help us learn about, say, Napoléon or Socrates, so can it help us understand Jesus of Nazareth. A leading Evangelical researcher substantiates this point by explaining how historical inquiry illuminates Jesus’ place within a first-century Greco-Roman culture. Yet when an Episcopalian participant questions the very existence of a historical Jesus, arguing that the Gospels merely deliver mythic archetypes, not reliable narratives, readers may see why theologians such as Kähler and Barth warned—as the editors acknowledge—against seeking Jesus through historical scholarship rather than through the divine miracle of faith. Certain to spark sharp debate. --Bryce Christensen

About the Author

James K. Beilby (Ph.D., Marquette University) is professor of systematic and philosophical theology at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. His books include Why Bother With Truth? (with David Clark), Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views and The Meaning of the Atonement: Four Views (both with Paul Eddy), Naturalism Defeated?, For Faith and Clarity and Epistemology as Theology. His articles and essays have appeared in such publications as Faith and Philosophy, Philosophia Christi, Religious Studies, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, American Journal of Theology and Philosophy, Sophia and Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Paul R. Eddy (Ph.D., Marquette University) is Professor of Theology at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. His books include John Hick's Pluralist Philosophy of World Religions (Ashgate), Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology (with G. A. Boyd, Baker) and Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views (with James Beilby IVP).

Robert M. Price is professor of biblical criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute as well as the editor of The Journal of Higher Criticism.

John Dominic Crossan is professor emeritus in the department of teligious studies at DePaul University in Chicago. He has lectured to lay and scholarly audiences across the United States as well as in Ireland and England, Scandinavia and Finland, Australia and New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, and South Africa. He has been interviewed on 200 radio stations, including four times on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Luke Timothy Johnson is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. His well known New Testament studies include The Writings of the New Testament (1986), The Real Jesus: The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels (1996) and Religious Experience in Earliest Christianity: A Missing Dimension of New Testament Studies (1998). He often lectures at universities and seminaries worldwide. He is a noted critic of the Jesus Seminar, often taking stances against Burton Mack, Robert Funk and John Dominic Crossan in discussions of the "historical Jesus."

James D. G. Dunn was for many years the Lightfoot Professor of Divinity in the Department of Theology at the University of Durham. Since his retirement he has been made Emeritus Lightfoot Professor. He is credited with coining the phrase "New Perspective on Paul" during his 1982 Manson Memorial Lecture.

Darrell L. Bock (Ph.D., Aberdeen) is research professor of New Testament studies and professor of spiritual development and culture at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. He has written the monograph Blasphemy and Exaltation in Judaism and the Final Examination of Jesus and volumes on Luke in both the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament and the IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Bock is a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society. He serves as a corresponding editor for Christianity Today, and he has published articles in Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning News.

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Customer Reviews

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Overall, I found this to be one of the best books of its type that I have come across.
I really enjoy books such as these because the reader is able to get a taste of differing viewpoints all contained in the same book.
Stevie Jake
This book on the historical Jesus contains five contributions, only one of which is by an evangelical (Darrell Bock's).
Steve Jackson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Ky. Col. on December 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Historical Jesus: Five Views" is a very nice overview of a number of perspectives in modern biblical scholarship. Obviously, five scholars cannot cover every single perspective. However, the contributors are all well known in their fields and often have divergent opinions. For those just wanting a basic overview of some different perspectives on the Historical Jesus in research, I would recommend this book. The book could also be useful for those who want to exprole the issues in depth as other scholars and more detailed works are mentioned in the text or footnotes.

The book itself is divided as follows (please forgive anything I miss):

I. Introduction: A concise but useful section on the progression of Jesus research from the 1700s until the contemporary situation. The sections mentions some of the major players and developments in each "Jesus Quest."

II. Contributing scholars sections (each of the other scholars is provided a brief comment/rebuttal section following the longer contributions).

A. Robert Price: This professor is one of the very, very few well-known scholars who still harbor the idea that Jesus was likely entirely a myth. However, a whole number of "internet atheists" (certainly not all) seem to hold many views in common with Price. While I found Price the least credible of all views expressed in the volume and I found some of his personal tones more than a little too falsely triumphant, his contribution was still interesting (primarily I must confess the rebuttals from other contributors to his material were what I found the most enjoyable).

B. John Crossan: Crossan is a noted liberal New Testament scholar.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Due on December 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the latest product of a brilliant, long-running intellectual enterprise known as 'The Quest for the Historical Jesus'. It aims simply to answer the question how much can really be known about Jesus the man, as an historical figure.
The 'Quest' tradition of scholarship has attracted some of the best minds of the past two hundred years. However it tends to be sceptical. It asks questions but often gives no answers. Many of its great participants, such as Albert Schweitzer, who gave the 'Quest' its name, have been Christians. But the Quest is not faith-based, and this book is not a devotional tome.
Rather,The Historical Jesus: Five Views is an intellectual tour de force. The five contributors are stellar. There is a wide range of opinion represented. The authors even critique each others' views. Readers with an established interest in the field should buy this book. Others could read about the 'Quest' on Wikipedia before making a decision. The book is a good introduction to contemporary thinking in the field, but not one for the faint-hearted!
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47 of 58 people found the following review helpful By T. Eldridge on March 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book serves as a forum for a group of esteemed historical Jesus scholars to debate their views with one another in a popular level, accessible format.

This review will contain a summary of the book's contents and the reasons for my five star rating and recommendation. I will attempt to be objective whilst summarising the book's contents, however after reading the book I do find some of the author's arguments more plausible than others and some of the points more worthy of mention than other points made, and this may become apparent as you read this. Nonetheless, I hope this review helps you understand the nature of the book and whether or not it's something you'd like to read for yourself.

The book begins with an introduction to the history of the quest for the Historical Jesus, written by the editors Eddy and Beilby. They summarise the various issues and debates which have shaped the quest by moving through history and showing the effects of the major issues on the direction of the quest. The introduction runs to around 50 pages or so, but this includes extensive footnotes and references. This section of the book was absolutely fantastic, simply because it is an introduction in the true sense of the word. Someone who'd never read any material on the Historical Jesus Quest in their life could pick up this book, read the introduction and quickly be up to speed with all the historical context and have a basic idea of the methodological issues. On the other hand, even a well-educated reader would benefit from the succinct historical summary. Alternatively you could just skip this section of the book and move onto the presentations by the scholars. This section of the book could be seen as a bonus, and a good one at that.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Trevin Wax on August 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
"Who do people say that I am?"

It's interesting that Jesus didn't start off by asking the disciples the personal question that would follow ("Who do you say that I am?"). He first asked them what other people were saying.

The views of Jesus were varied in the first century. They are even more so today.

C.S. Lewis gave us an apologetic device called the "Trilemma", in which he argued that Jesus must be a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. He could not be simply a "nice teacher." A brilliant piece of apologetics in Lewis' day, it is less effective now. Why? Because the Trilemma only works if you accept the authority and authenticity of the original documents about Jesus' life. Today, by questioning the sources, picking and choosing which parts fit their overall portrait, scholars can wiggle out of Lewis' three options and offer a number of other views.

The Historical Jesus: Five Views (IVP, 2009) brings together some of the major players in "Historical Jesus" research today. The only thing these contributors have in common is the source material that we find in the Gospels. And even on the source materials, they are divided as to what parts should be considered as historical evidence.

The book begins with an overview of "the quest for the historical Jesus". There are three major phases to this quest, culminating in recent research which emphasizes the Jewishness of Jesus. But even within the third quest, scholarly views of Jesus have fragmented to the point that no consensus is possible.

The first contribution is Robert M. Price's essay, "Jesus at the Vanishing Point". Price makes the case that there never was a Jesus of Nazareth.
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