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Sources of the Jesus Tradition: Separating History from Myth Hardcover – August 24, 2010
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The exciting new release from Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. Learn more
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Most of the authors take the mythicist view, but that said, they make many valid points about why the current methodologies of historical research do not pass muster and need to be rethought. Overall the theme of the book could be described as an appeal for a better, more sound, methodology for engaging the available historical facts when it comes to the Jesus traditions--which have until recently been predominantly the venture and domain of Christian apologists. Now that unbiased historians are taking a crack at what history says about Jesus and the origins of Christianity we have now (more than ever) new avenues of thought to pursue and new ideas which ma--after two thousand years of failing to establish a basic historicity for Jesus of Nazareth--finally yield answers. Although for the person of faith they may not be the answers you are looking for.
All the same, this is an invaluable source when it comes to investigating the life and history of Jesus of the first century Palestine.
In this collection of 14 short essays of high quality New Testament scholarship, the editor uses Michelangelo's statement as a metaphor for the search for the historical Jesus during the past two centuries, and explains why it hasn't worked.
The book's dust jacket states: "The present collection does not aim at a consensus or master theory of "who" Jesus was. It reflects the variety of opinion...that the sources and individual elements of the (New Testament) evoke. The collection...represent(s) the state of questions and problems (in Jesus scholarship.)"
For the most part, the scholars here present respectful overviews of different opinions on particular topics before presenting their own intelligent and creative solutions to the problems. This approach allows the reader to form an educated opinion about the different views. It provides high quality education and value for someone interested in this topic.
My favorite contribution was by R. Joseph Hoffmann entitled, "On Not Finding the Historical Jesus," and I also can highly recommend the articles by Gerd Ludemann and Dennis R. MacDonald. Each scholar is good at communicating their own perspectives in their respected articles but some of these articles I feel fell short of their intended audience or target. To my mind, Richard Carrier and Frank R. Zindler's pieces seemed extremely out of place among the other articles. However that being said, there is a wealth of knowledge to be found within these pages. However I do not believe this is a text that needs to be on everyone's bookshelves but rather to those who wish to go a little deeper into Historical Jesus research. All in all, a good read.