Thursday, 16 January 2014

“The Jesus of History and the Christ of Faith’’

The Jesus of History and the Christ of Faith," was coined over a hundred years ago, in 1892, by Martin Kinhler to distinguish between the historical Jesus, or the Jesus of Historie, and the Christ whom the church proclaimed in its Gospels, or the Christ of Geschichte.1 Fortunately, English has only one word for History, and so English-speaking scholars cannot on a linguistic basis easily make the distinction between "history" and so-called "meta-history." Theologically, however, Christians have always asked the question: How are we to understand relations between the historical Jesus and the Christ proclaimed in the New Testament?
The question includes issues regarding the relationship of an academic study of Jesus and a confessional affirmation of Jesus. It is also part of the larger question regarding how to understand the humanity of Jesus and the divinity of Jesus in speaking about Jesus as the God-man. It is, in fact, implicit in the question that Jesus himself first asked his disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8:29, par); that he then asked the Pharisees: "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" (Matt 22:41, par.), and that he continues to ask all people today: What do you think of Jesus? How should he be understood both historically and religiously? Of what significance is he for our lives - and for the Church and the world today?
The attempt to understand Jesus has produced a massive number of critical studies during the past two centuries, with certain distinctive approaches evident. In what follows I would like to divide my lecture into two parts: first, setting out a brief history of some of the most significant approaches in the critical study of Jesus; then, second, offering "some contemporary reflections" (as our title has it) on the matters raised - with a short appended "affirmation of my own convictions" at the end.

Historical Jesus existence of Jesus
In the 21st century, the third Quest for the historical Jesus witnessed a fragmentation of the scholarly portraits of Jesus after which no unified picture of Jesus could be attained at all. The term Historical Jesus refers to scholarly reconstructions of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, based on historical methods including critical analysis of gospel texts as the primary source for his biography, along with consideration of the historical and cultural context in which he lived. These reconstructions accept that Jesus existed, although scholars differ about the beliefs and teachings of Jesus as well the accuracy of the accounts of his life, and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent"[1] are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate[2]
Since the 18th century, three separate scholarly quests for the historical Jesus have taken place, each with distinct characteristics and based on different research criteria, which were often developed during that phase. The portraits of Jesus that have been constructed in these processes have often differed from each other, and from the dogmatic image portrayed in the gospel accounts. The mainstream profiles in the third quest may be grouped together based on their primary theme as apocalyptic prophet, charismatic healer, Cynic philosopher, Jewish Messiah and prophet of social change, but there is little scholarly agreement on a single portrait, or the methods needed to construct it. There are, however, overlapping attributes among the portraits and scholars who differ on some attributes may agree on others.[3]
A number of scholars have criticized the various approaches used in the study of the historical Jesus—on one hand for the lack of rigor in research methods, on the other for being driven by "specific agendas" that interpret ancient sources to fit specific goals. These agendas range from those that strive to confirm the Christian view of Jesus, or discredit Christianity, or interpret the life and teachings of Jesus with the hope of causing social change. By the 21st century the "maximalist" approaches of the 19th century which accepted all the gospels and the "minimalist" trends of the early 20th century which totally rejected them were abandoned and scholars began to focus on what is historically probable and plausible about Jesus.
Rudolf Bultmann and the Quest for the Historical Jesus[4]

Among the most influential theologians of the twentieth century stands Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976 He was a man of towering intellect whose work continues to exercise a significant influence over theological discussions to this day.  Although more people say negative things about Bultmann than those who have actually read him, he has made many important contributions to the theological world.  The following essay will explore his role within the quest for the historical Jesus.
Historical elements
Most contemporary scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, and most biblical scholars and classical historians see the theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted. In antiquity, the existence of Jesus was never denied by those who opposed Christianity. There is, however, widespread disagreement among scholars on the details of the life of Jesus mentioned in the gospel narratives, and on the meaning of his teachings. Scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts of Jesus, and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilat.
Robert E. Van Voorst states that the idea of the non-historicity of the existence of Jesus has always been controversial, and has consistently failed to convince virtually all scholars of many disciplines. Geoffrey Blainey notes that a few scholars have argued that Jesus did not exist, but writes that Jesus' life was in fact "astonishingly documented" by the standards of the time - more so than any of his contemporaries - with numerous books, stories and memoirs written about him. The problem for the historian, wrote Blainey, is not therefore, determining whether Jesus actually existed, but rather in considering the "sheer multitude of detail and its inconsistencies and contradictions". Although a very small number of modern scholars argue that Jesus never existed, that view is a distinct minority and virtually all scholars consider theories that Jesus' existence was a Christian invention as implausible. This is different to supernatural or miraculous claims about Jesus, which historians tend to look on as questions of faith, rather than historical fact.
The sources for the historicity of Jesus are mainly Christian sources, but there are some mentions also in a few non-Christian Jewish and Greco-Roman sources, which have been used in historical analyses of the existence of Jesus. These include the works of 1st-century Roman historians Josephus and Tacitus.
Jesus as myth
The Christ myth theory (also known as the "Jesus myth theory" or "Jesus mythicism") is the proposition that Jesus never existed in any form but was invented by the Christian community around 100 CE. The idea was first put forward in the late 18th century and developed and popularized in the 19th century by Bruno Bauer.[5]
A few contemporary writers, notably G. A. Wells, Richard Carrier, Earl Doherty and Robert M. Price still regard the question of whether Jesus ever existed as open. Richard Dawkins wrote that while Jesus probably existed, it is "possible to mount a serious, though not widely supported, historical case that Jesus never lived at all’’ The position that Jesus did not exist is not held by most professional historians, nor the vast majority of New Testament scholars. Classical historian Michael Grant states that, "Modern critical methods fail to support the Christ myth theory.  Again and again been answered and annihilated by first rank scholars.'

Two widely accepted historical fact.
Baptism of Jesus, Crucifixion of Jesus, Sources for the Historicity of Jesus, and Historical reliability of the Gospels
Despite divergent scholarly opinions on the construction of portraits of the historical Jesus, almost all modern scholars consider his baptism and crucifixion to be historical facts. James Dunn states that these "two facts in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent" and "rank so high on the 'almost impossible to doubt or deny' scale of historical facts" that they are often the starting points for the study of the historical Jesus.[6]
The Pilate Stone from Caesarea Maritima, now at the Israel Museum
Scholarly agreement on the crucifixion of Jesus by Pontius Pilate is widespread, and most scholars in the third quest for the historical Jesus consider the crucifixion indisputable. Eddy and Boyd state that it is now "firmly established" that there is non-Christian confirmation of the crucifixion of Jesus. Bart Ehrman states that the crucifixion of Jesus on the orders of Pontius Pilate is the most certain element about him. John Dominic Crossman states that the crucifixion of Jesus is as certain as any historical fact can be. John P. Meier views the crucifixion of Jesus as historical fact and states that based on the criterion of embarrassment Christians would not have invented the painful death of their leader. Meier states that a number of other criteria, e.g. the criterion of multiple attestations (i.e. confirmation by more than one source), the criterion of coherence (i.e. that it fits with other historical elements) and the criterion of rejection (i.e. that it is not disputed by ancient sources) help establish the crucifixion of Jesus as a historical event.
Although scholars agree on the historicity of the crucifixion, they differ on the reason and context for it, e.g. both E. P. Sanders and Paula Fredriksen support the historicity of the crucifixion, but contend that Jesus did not foretell his own crucifixion, and that his prediction of the crucifixion is a Christian story. Geza Vermes also views the crucifixion as a historical event but provides his own explanation and background for it.[7]
The existence of John the Baptist within the same time frame as Jesus, and his eventual execution by Herod Antipas is attested to by first-century historian Josephus and the overwhelming majority of modern scholars view Josephus' accounts of the activities of John the Baptist as authentic. One of the arguments in favor of the historicity of the Baptism of Jesus by John is that it is a story which the early Christian Church would have never wanted to invent, another criterion of embarrassment. The four gospels are not the only references to the baptisms performed by John and in Acts 10:37-38, the apostle Peter refers to how the ministry of Jesus followed "the baptism which John preached". Another argument used in favour of the historicity of the baptism is that multiple accounts refer to it, usually called the criterion of multiple attestations. Technically, multiple attestations do not guarantee authenticity, but only determines antiquity. However, for most scholars, together with the criterion of embarrassment it lends credibility to the baptism of Jesus by John being a historical event.
Eight possibly historical elements

Jesus and his disciples
Beyond the two elements of baptism and crucifixion, scholars attribute varying levels of certainty to other episodes in the life of Jesus. A well known list of eight possible facts has been widely discussed, but is not subject to universal agreement among scholars.
E.P. Sanders and separately Craig A. Evans state that there are two other incidents in the life of Jesus can be historical, one that Jesus called disciples, the other that he caused a controversy at the Temple. This extended view assumes that there are eight elements about Jesus and his followers that can be viewed as historical facts, four episodes in the life of Jesus and four facts about him and his followers, namely:
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. He called disciples. He had a controversy at the Temple. Jesus was crucified by the Romans near Jerusalem. Jesus was a Galilean. His activities were confined to Galilee and Judea. After his death his disciples continued. Some of his disciples were persecuted.
Scholarly agreement on this extended list is not universal. N. T. Wright accepts that there were twelve disciples, but holds that the list of their names cannot be determined with certainty. John Dominic Crossan disagrees, stating that Jesus did not call disciples and had an "open to all" egalitarian approach, imposed no hierarchy and preached to all in equal terms John P. Meier sees the calling of disciples a natural consequence of the information available about Jesus.[8]
Scholars generally agree that Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was born between 7 and 2 BC and died 30–36 AD. However, in a review of the state of modern scholarship, Amy-Jill Levine stated: "Beyond recognizing that 'Jesus was Jewish' rarely does scholarship address what being 'Jewish' means." Blainey writes that Jesus was Jewish in race, culture and religion - the name "Jew"[9] being derived from "Judah", a narrow strip of land along the Eastern Mediterranean, long known as Palestine. Jews, unlike many other peoples of the epoch, believed in only one God, and their Temple in Jerusalem was considered his only shrine. Jerusalem had been captured for the Hebrews around 1000 BCE, but Palestine was invaded by the Romans in 63 BCE, thus by Jesus' time, the Jewish kingdom was under Roman occupation. Despite the presence of a small Roman army, the Jews maintained their unusual culture, traditions and religion: a distinct Jewish world, operating inside the Roman Empire.
Most scholars hold that Jesus lived in Galilee and Judea. The Talmud refers to "Jesus the Nazarene" several times and scholars such as Andreas Kostenberger and Robert Van Voorst hold that some of these references are to Jesus. Nazareth is not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian gospels portray it as an insignificant village, John 1:46 asking "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Craig S. Keener states that it is rarely disputed that Jesus was from Nazareth, an obscure small village not worthy of invention.Gerd Theissen concurs with that conclusion. Jerome indicates that Nazareth was used in reference to Old Testament verses using the Hebrew word ne'tser (branch), specifically citing Isaiah 11:1. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that, "The etymology of Nazara is neser, which means 'a shoot'. The Vulgate renders this word by flos, 'flower', in the Prophecy of Isaias (11:1), which is applied to the Saviour. St. Jerome (Epist., xlvi, 'Ad Marcellam') gives the same interpretation to the name of the town."The Qur'an mentions "Jesus the Nazarene" fourteen times, and depicts him as a distinguished prophet, though not the "Son of God".
Most scholars support the theory that Jesus spoke Aramaic and that he may have also spoken Hebrew and Greek. The languages spoken in Galilee and Judea during the first century include the Semitic Aramaic and Hebrew languages as well as Greek, with Aramaic being the predominant language. Most scholars agree that during the early part of the first century, Aramaic was the mother tongue of virtually all women in Galilee and Judea.
Most scholars reject that there is any evidence that an adult Jesus traveled or studied outside Galilee and Judea. Robert Van Voorst states that modern scholarship has “almost unanimously agreed” that claim of the travels of Jesus to Tibet, Kashmir or India contains "nothing of value".
Theological ideas are never formed in a vacuum.  They are always developed within a matrix of past and present influences.  Bultmann’s understanding of Jesus is no exception.  Along with Karl Barth, Bultmann’s work marks the transition between the “Old” and the “New Quest”, a period of about 40 years often referred to as the “No Quest” era[10].  In most histories of the quest, Bultmann is usually considered to have been the direct successor of Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965).  Schweitzer is generally regarded as being responsible for demolishing the “Old Quest” of the nineteenth century with his book The Quest of the Historical Jesus,  in which he critically weighed the previous reconstructions of Jesus that had been suggested and found them wanting.  He concluded that these portraits of Jesus reflected the faces of the historians themselves more than the historical figure they were searching for.  He dismissed their views as being distortions of the evidence found in the Gospels, arguing instead that Jesus was a wandering apocalyptic prophet predicting the end of the world, which of course didn’t happen.
Ten years earlier, Martin Kähler (1835-1912) had written The So-Called Historical Jesus and the Historic Biblical Christ in which he also rejected the nineteenth-century quest, regarding “the entire Life-of-Jesus movement as a blind alley”.  While he argued that it is impossible to separate the Jesus of history from the Christ of faith, his distinction between the two has had a significant impact on all subsequent quests.  Kähler is also responsible for distinguishing between Historie and geschichte; the former refers to the facts of history, while the latter refers to the interpretation or meaning of history.  Thus, the Christ of faith was geschichte, while the Jesus of Historie was simply a “figment of the historical-critical mind’’ Having made these careful distinctions, Kähler was able to argue that faith was not dependant on historical research.  Much of this was anticipated decades earlier by Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855).  Casting doubt on the whole quest, he stated that “It is infinitely beyond history’s capacity to demonstrate that God… lived here on earth as an individual human being.”  Instead, he reasoned that faith grows out of an existential experience, not history[11].
Around the turn of the century, a new methodology was being developed which came to be known as Formgeschichte, or “form criticsm” as it is better known in English.  Its aim was to examine the biblical text in order to determine what can be considered as reliable historical source material.  Following Hermann Gunkel’s (1862–1932) use of it in Old Testament studies, Martin Dibelius (1883-1947) was the first to systematise the method for the Gospels in From Tradition to Gospel.  Dibelius argued that the Gospels were composed of a series of isolated units that were products of oral traditions developed in response to the church’s needs.  He grouped the material into six categories, concluding that the Gospel writers were little more than collectors and editors of the traditions about Jesus that were really produced by the church, although he didn’t deny the possibility that some of the tradition went back to Jesus Himself. These are among the many influential ideas that formed the climate in which Bultmann began his work on Jesus.

Given the negative attitude towards the quest by many of his predecessors and contemporaries, it is perhaps no surprise that Bultmann rejected it altogether.  Morris Aschcraft notes that there were at least two reasons for this: 1) the failure of the old quest, and 2) the unsuitable nature of the sources.  Like Schweitzer and Kähler, Bultmann had no time for the nineteenth-century portraits of Jesus, but went further than both of them by insisting that not even the “personality” of Jesus could be recovered from the Gospel records.  In the most frequently quoted statement from Jesus and the Word, he wrote:[12]
I do indeed think that we can now know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus, since the early Christian sources show no interest in either, are moreover fragmentary and often legendary; and other sources about Jesus do not exist.
This quotation has been too often misunderstood.  Bultmann did not mean that we can know next to nothing about Jesus.  The book he wrote, in which this statement is found, proves he believed there are in fact some things that can be known about Him.  What he was rejecting were the biographical narratives that were attempting to define Jesus’ personality.[13]
Following Dibelius, Bultmann took a more radical approach to form criticism in The History of the Synoptic Tradition.  He utilized this new method of historical analysis to distinguish the differing layers of oral tradition present in the Synoptic Gospels.  While the individual fragments of Jesus’ teachings were gathered together in a layer of tradition grounded in Palestine, a unified life of Jesus “was first created by the Christ myth of the Hellenistic congregation”.  The Gospel of Mark is the first example in which we see not only a unified form of “the Christ myth” but also the questions, interests and concerns of the Hellenistic church, far removed in time, language and culture from the Palestinian origins of Jesus.  In other words, the Gospels simply “give us a glimpse into the period after Jesus’ death when the church was defining its stand points, settling controversies and coming to some sort of terms with its environment”.  Thus for Bultmann, “what is found in the Synoptic Gospels is a record of the life of the church, not the life of Jesus”.  He concluded that, in terms of the available evidence, we are able to know very little about the historical Jesus.  “The Christ who is preached [in the Gospels] is not the historic Jesus, but the Christ of the faith.”
So after all the tradition had been stripped away, what kind of Jesus did Bultmann find?  In his major work on the topic, Jesus and the Word, he argued that what we know about Jesus is that He baptized by John, He was part of a messianic movement, He preached the kingdom of God, and was executed under Pontius Pilate.  However, He had no consciousness of being the Messiah, He never predicted His passion nor did He imagine that He would return again to earth.  He was essentially an existentialist teacher of timeless truths that calls for a decision in the present.[14]
At this point Bultmann takes up the ideas of Kähler and Kierkegaard and develops them further.  Combining the insights gained from form criticism and existentialism, he was basically confronted with a question similar to that which Kierkegaard faced a century earlier: How is faith related to historically uncertain facts?  For Bultmann, the answer was simple.  Throughout all his writings, he repeats the refrain that Christian faith is not dependant on the historical Jesus but on the Christ of faith.  He consistently maintained “that it is impossible to write a modern biography of Jesus because the source materials are confessional rather than biographical”.  He made no attempt to say that Christianity stands or falls on historical evidence.  Rather, Christianity then as now, stands on the proclamation of Christ, which he referred to as the kerugma.  Bultmann was convinced that he was on the same ground as the New Testament when he turned his attention away from the historical Jesus towards an encounter with the Christ of faith since he believed that the New Testament only deals with the latter and not the former.
Even if we did have the kind of historical evidence needed to paint an accurate portrait, Bultmann believed that theology which is centered on the figure of Jesus would not be Christian theology at all, because in reality Christian theology is the explanation of faith, a faith that initially became a historical reality in the Hellenistic church, not the Jesus movement of Palestine.  Thus, the very nature of Christian faith and theology basically leaves the historical Jesus irrelevant, though not completely forgotten:[15]
Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation.  No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community.

As mentioned in the introduction, people seem to have more negative things to say about Bultmann than positive, and it’s not hard to see why.  However, Herbert Wolf rightly points out that “any critique of Bultmann demands recognition of the positive contribution he has made in this area of thought.”
Although Bultmann’s picture of Jesus may be considered downright heretical, he was at least attempting to make Jesus relevant.  His motivation to present the message of the Gospel to modern man is seen in the distinction between the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith.  What matters most is not the often misguided reconstructions of Jesus, which are based on confessional documents not historical accounts anyway, but how one will respond to the timeless call for decision.  Jesus is not some dusty figure of a bygone era; His message continues to demand a response in the present.  Bultmann thus intended to direct attention to faith rather than simple facts, a corrective that was perhaps needed at the time.  However, although his approach managed to avoid some of the confusion that previous historical research had generated, it ends up creating bigger problems elsewhere.  For instance, how can there be any existential response to Jesus that does not involve some objective historical knowledge?  The problem with driving a wedge between faith and history is that it totally ignores the fact that Christianity is and always has been a historical religion.  It depends entirely on concrete historical events, especially the resurrection.  As Ben Withering ton points out, “A faith that does not ground the Christ of personal experience in the Jesus of history is a form of docetic or Gnostic heresy.”  Faith does not arise in and of itself; it comes in response to historical facts.[16]
Through his use and development of form criticism, Bultmann quite correctly brought to light the fact that the Gospels do indeed reflect many of the questions and concerns of the early church communities.  No New Testament scholar would deny the reality of that today.  Along with the others championing form criticism, he helped draw attention to the process of writing, compiling and editing the Synoptic Gospels which has been a constant area of research ever since, often producing important insights.  But once again, Bultmann was right in what he affirmed but wrong in what he denied.  Although the Synoptic Gospels clearly reveal insights into the community to which they were written, does that mean that the writers or editors simply fabricated parts of it to meet their needs?  Furthermore, despite the criteria he outlines in The History of the Synoptic Tradition, how can we be totally sure of which sayings of Jesus are authentic and which are not?  Where do we draw the line?  These are among some of the most notable weaknesses in his understanding.[17]

An Affirmation of My Own Convictions
What, then, do I believe to be the situation with regard to the "Jesus of History and Christ of Faith"?

1. That Jesus acted and taught with such authority that those closest to him began to think of him in an exalted sense, believing that through him they were in touch with God but not really understanding what it all meant.

2. That because of God having raised him from the dead (not just after the resurrection, but because of the resurrection) those closest to him began to confess him as Messiah and Lord and to apply such a confession to their lives.

3. That they defended their confessions of Jesus by reference to the Old Testament Scriptures, which they used in a manner compatible to the procedures and exegetical norms of the Jewish world of their day.

4. That in their proclamation of Jesus they had such materials as a Passion Narrative, an Eschatological Discourse, and a Sayings Collection, whether in written or oral form, which they used in their preaching.

5. That in constructing their Gospels, each of the four evangelists used these materials in his own manner and to contextualize the Jesus tradition for his respective audience - thus the numerous differences between them of the selection of material, arrangement of material, and wordings, even while giving a generally unified portrayal.

6. That while the portrayals of the four evangelists differ between themselves on many matters (both of event and language), they are to be seen as presenting a credible, historical portrayal of Jesus' ministry and person.

7. That the Gospels were written "out of faith and for faith" - that is, with a faith perspective in order to engender faith and support faith in Jesus as Messiah and Lord - and so their readers are called on to respond in faith.
This is not to suggest that the simple abundance of historically-credible data necessitates a faith response on the part of anyone. Historical-rational probability and religious-psychological certainty are two factors that, while they must always go together, are not simply the same.
As Matthew's Gospel has it, when Peter made his great confession of Jesus ("You are the Christ, the Son of the living God"), Jesus' reply was "Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven" (Matt 16:16-17). Even having been with Jesus and having been assured by his actions and teaching were not enough. Real conviction, Jesus is presented as saying, comes only by revelation from the Father in heaven - or, to say it more prosaically: History and reason may pile up the dry wood, but it takes the heavenly fire of revelation from God to ignite the tinder.
The Gospels present us with a person who goes much beyond our expectations and often beyond our comprehension. Furthermore, they depict a redemptive scenario that, on the one hand, exceeds our fondest hopes, yet on the other is often a scandal to our innate religious sensibilities and seemingly foolish to our minds. While we want a historically credible and rationally compatible faith, we as Christians often find ourselves much like the disciples of old who, when faced with certain "hard teachings" of Jesus - and observing that many thereafter backed off from following Jesus - could only respond to Jesus' query about wanting to leave him too: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6:68-69). And it is this response that continues to be our response today.

Whether one agrees with Bultmann understands of Jesus or not, no one can doubt the far reaching influence it has had on all subsequent quests for the historical Jesus.  Pointing to the insufficiency of the Gospels as historical sources, he shifted the focus away from history and on to faith.  Jesus is not a figure confined to the past; His message continues meets us in the present.  While his understanding contains some major flaws, it has had some positive outcomes.  And for those, Bultmann is to be thanked.

1)      Rudolf Bultmann “A brief but helpful sketch of his life can be found in Morris Ashcraft’’ (Waco, TX: Word, 1972)

2)      The Oxford Dictionary  “Historical Jesus, Quest of the,” in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, edited by F.L. Cross (New York: Oxford University, 2005)

3)      Dale C. Allison For a definition and overview of the many quests, “Jesus Christ,” in The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: I-Ma (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2008)

4)      David Noel Freedman N.T. Wright, “Quest for the Historical Jesus,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary: Volume 3, edited (New York: Doubleday, 1992),

5)      Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede London: Adam & Charles Black, 1954)

6)      Martin Kähler, The So-Called Historical Jesus and the Historic Biblical Christ, translated by Carl E. Braaten (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1964),

7)      Ben Witherington III, The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1995)

8)      Reinhart Schelert, “The Continuing Quest for the Historical Jesus,” Restoration Quarterly 19, no. 4 (1976),

9)       Herbert C. Wolf, Kierkegaard and Bultmann: The Quest of the Historical Jesus (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1965).

10)  Charles E. Moore : Spiritual Writings of Søren Kierkegaard, (Rifton, NY: Plough Books, 2002),

11)  Martin Dibelius, From Tradition to Gospel, translated by Bertram Lee Woolf (Cambridge: James Clarke, 1971), first published as Die Formgeschichte des Evangeliums in 1919.

12)  Walter P. Weaver  The Historical Jesus in the Twentieth Century, 1900-1950 (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 1999),

13)  Rudolf Bultmann, translated by Schubert M. Ogden Existence and Faith: Shorter Writings of Rudolf Bultmann, (New York: Meridian, 1960),

14)  Rudolf Bultmann, , translated by John Marsh The History of the Synoptic Tradition (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1968), first published, in 1921

15)  Rudolf Bultmann, translated by John Bowden Walter Schmithals, An Introduction to the Theology of Rudolf Bultmann, (London: SCM, 1967)

[1] A brief but helpful sketch of his life can be found in Morris Ashcraft, Rudolf Bultmann (Waco, TX: Word, 1972), 11-22.

[2] “Historical Jesus, Quest of the,” in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, edited by F.L. Cross (New York: Oxford University, 2005), 779-780;
[3] For a definition and overview of the many quests, see Dale C. Allison, “Jesus Christ,” in The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: I-Ma (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2008) 262-264;

[4] N.T. Wright, “Quest for the Historical Jesus,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary: Volume 3, edited by David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 796-802
[5] Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede (London : Adam & Charles Black, 1954), first published as Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschung in 1906.

[6] Martin Kähler, The So-Called Historical Jesus and the Historic Biblical Christ, translated by Carl E. Braaten (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1964), first published as Der sogenannte historische Jesus und der geschichtliche, biblische Christus in 1896.

[7] Ben Witherington III, The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1995), 10.

[8] Reinhart Schelert, “The Continuing Quest for the Historical Jesus,” Restoration Quarterly 19, no. 4 (1976), 234.

[9] Herbert C. Wolf, Kierkegaard and Bultmann: The Quest of the Historical Jesus (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1965).

[10] Kierkegaard, Søren. Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Søren Kierkegaard, edited by Charles E. Moore (Rifton, NY: Plough Books, 2002), 69.

[11] Martin Dibelius, From Tradition to Gospel, translated by Bertram Lee Woolf (Cambridge: James Clarke, 1971), first published as Die Formgeschichte des Evangeliums in 1919.

[12] Morris Ashcraft, Rudolf Bultmann (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1972), 45.
[13] Walter P. Weaver notes that his scepticism was also a “response to the liberalism in which he was himself trained and from which he came.” The Historical Jesus in the Twentieth Century, 1900-1950 (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 1999), 103.

[14] Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus and the Word (London: Fontana, 1958), 14.

[15] Cf. Rudolf Bultmann, Existence and Faith: Shorter Writings of Rudolf Bultmann, translated by Schubert M. Ogden (New York: Meridian, 1960), 28.

[16] Rudolf Bultmann, The History of the Synoptic Tradition, translated by John Marsh (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1968), first published as Die Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition, in 1921
[17] Walter Schmithals, An Introduction to the Theology of Rudolf Bultmann, translated by John Bowden (London: SCM, 1967), 215.

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