The Historical Jesus, or the Jesus of Faith

The academic environment of what has been called ‘New Testament Studies’ or ‘Pauline Studies’ has been a hot bed of activity of late. ‘The New Perspective on Paul’ is at war with the ‘old’ perspective on Paul held out by the Churches. The members of ‘the Jesus Seminar’ routinely have votes to decide what Jesus really said and did apart from the Historical data contained in the Scriptures themselves. They claim to have the uncanny ability to tell us what Jesus really said, or probably said, or possibly said, or would never have said. The books on the subject might be easily dismissed as needless speculation that goes far beyond the scope of legitimate historical study, but they flood the ‘christian’ sections of the popular bookstore chains with diatribes of faithless and skeptical analysis of the most creative sort. They need to be taken seriously if for no other reason than that people in general are taking them seriously. Was Jesus a mere itinerant Palestinian Jewish preacher who’s influence is far beyond a reasonable estimation of his ability? A marauding revolutionary bent on the establishment of a new social order? A skeptical philosophical sophist plying the trade of selling the new thought of the day? The ‘Quest for the Historical Jesus’ is an ongoing event in the thought of scholars like N.T. Wright and Marcus Borg. Or is the Jesus of History, really identical to the Jesus of Faith held out by the holy Church of history that Jesus Christ Himself formed and protects by a still present work of a living God?

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