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

4.3 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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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


"The Historical Jesus is a worthwhile addition to your library if you are a scholar, pastor, or layperson with particular interest in the intersection of the Jesus of history with the Christ of Christian faith." (Tawa J. Anderson, Calvin Theological Journal, November 2011)

"James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy succeed not only in identifying the major trends but also in bringing to the surface some of the assumptions in current historical Jesus research. They offer a sympathetic review of some of the major exponents of Jesus research from Reimarus up to the present day." (Pieter F. Craffert, Review of Biblical Literature, May 2011)

"Beilby and Eddy, along with their authors, are to be commended for a job well done. I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this book." (Robert B. Stewart, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, March 2011)

"The quest to construct a historically credible presentation of Jesus is now in its third iteration, and herein five top-ranked scholars set forth their cases and critique one another, resulting in a lively give-and-take. The resultant debate is evenhanded and illuminating, setting clear, stark alternatives before the reader. Highly recommended." (S. Young, Choice, May 2010)

"Certain to spark sharp debate." (Bryce Christensen, Booklist, November 15, 2009)

"Beilby and Eddy have compiled a fascinating 'virtual seminar' on the quest for the historical Jesus in their release, The Historical Jesus." (CBA Retailers + Resources, November/December 2009)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (November 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830838686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830838684
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Published in 2009 by InterVarsity Press, "The Historical Jesus: Five Views provides a broad and helpful introduction to the area of historic Jesus Studies. The book is formatted in the standard manner for these types of texts; an introduction followed by essays from the respective authors with short responses from the other contributors. Overall, I found this to be one of the best books of its type that I have come across.

I offer a couple of broad points as well as a few specific comments on the different contributions. With regard to general points, the editors' introduction is particularly good; it provides a helpful and balanced overview of historic Jesus studies, context that may be particularly valuable for readers new to this subject. Additionally, the book's wide range of perspectives is a strength. Often these texts while possessing high quality scholarship are restricted in scope, resulting in a well informed but, internecine debate amongst evangelical scholars; kudos to InterVarsity for including such a diverse range of viewpoints.

A few comments on the different contributions. First, Robert Price, arguably the most credible proponent of what is known as the `Jesus Myth'. A view which posits that there was no historic Jesus and that Christianity is the result of an amalgamation of accidental and intentional myth making. While an enjoyable addition to the discussion, the `Jesus Myth' does not stand up well to informed and sober criticism. This should not be surprising given that its key tenants have been considered and dismissed by scholars (Christian and non-Christian alike) over the last 150 years.
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