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Perspectives on the Historical Jesus: history, theology & controversy

Josh R.
The list author says: "The explosion of books about the historical Jesus and how that history does or does not fit the gospel accounts has left us with fascinating insights, theories and a proliferation of Jesuses. Here are some of the highlights from my jaunt through the literature."
What Jesus Meant
What Jesus Meant
"There's no perfect place to start, so I recommend that you jump in with this simple & short work. Wills balances the Jesus of tradition and theology to put forward a Jesus that can't be understood apart from God and society, yet at the same time isn't speaking for YOUR politics and YOUR religion. This Jesus has more to do with social misfits than any mainstream political views."
How Jesus Became Christian
How Jesus Became Christian
"Wilson plays detective as he peels away layers of texts and tradition to arrive at history's biggest coverup."
The Jesus Mystery: Astonishing Clues to the True Identities of Jesus and Paul
The Jesus Mystery: Astonishing Clues to the True Identities of Jesus and Paul
"Move from coverup to downright conspiracy as you read Einhorn's take on a Jesus whodunit. The book eases you in with a lot of background info, then reveals the author's unique theory."
Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts
Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts
"This verbal dig through texts and artifacts will introduce you to the historical windows that still allow us to peer into Jesus' world. More valuable for what it introduces than what it concludes about Jesus."
The Jesus You Can't Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ
The Jesus You Can't Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ
"Simultaneously full of modern religious conviction and a strong distaste for corrupt religious practice, MacArthur sees in Jesus a firebrand with strong words for the allies of empty traditions, self-righteous piety and unorthodox belief."
The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity
The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity
"Did you know that Jerusalem and Jesus' Jewish family played the pivotal role in the birth of Christianity? Did you know that this was true even after his death? Here Tabor explains how and why."
The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition
The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition
"The most demanding book I've recommended so far, this thick tome builds a case for the synoptic gospels as genuine histories. The authors take the time to carefully review many of the modern reconstructions of Jesus in the historical Jesus literature, which under their scrutiny are mainly debunked as creative fictions."
Jesus the Jew
Jesus the Jew
"Vermes recenters the religious and historical debate about Jesus on the simple fact that Jesus was a Jew. He goes on to analyze the religion of Jesus in his sequel, _The Religion of Jesus the Jew_."
Jesus Through Jewish Eyes: Rabbis and Scholars Engage an Ancient Brother in a New Conversation
Jesus Through Jewish Eyes: Rabbis and Scholars Engage an Ancient Brother in a New Conversation
"This collection of articles from leading Jewish thinkers brings a modern perspective to discussions of Jesus' Jewishness. Some of the brief but tantalizing pieces open doors to topics that are worthy of a separate volume in their own right."
The Historical Figure of Jesus
The Historical Figure of Jesus
"This work sits among the favorites of historical Jesus scholarship on all sides. Sanders expressly puts away theological issues and sets his sights on the human side of Jesus. In this approachable book, he works his way to a compelling portrait."
A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus: The Roots of the Problem and the Person, Vol. 1
A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus: The Roots of the Problem and the Person, Vol. 1
"Father Meier thinks that, even among all this talk about a Jewish Jesus, scholars have yet to really take Jesus' Jewishness seriously. He sees in the literature grounds for a historically viable Jesus for everyone, who was a real Jew in first-century Palestine."
The Messiah: In Early Judaism and Christianity
The Messiah: In Early Judaism and Christianity
"Another collection of articles, this time centered around the historical concept of "Messiah" (or Greek "Christós"). Various writers guide you through Tanakh, Dead Sea Scrolls and New Testament works to argue for different ideas and roles of a Messiah."
Recovering Jesus: The Witness of the New Testament
Recovering Jesus: The Witness of the New Testament
"A variety of controversies surround the historical Jesus and the gospel accounts - this book takes a balanced overview and contains some of the best introductory material for those new to New Testament history, the historical context of gospel passages and the close reading of texts. Among my favorites in the genre, but still a slightly demanding read."