The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus, ed. Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover and the Jesus Seminar (New York: Polebridge Press, 1993).


John Spong, Born of a Woman: A Bishop Rethinks the Birth of Jesus (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992) and Resurrection: Myth or Reality? (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994).


A.N. Wilson, Jesus (New York: Norton, 1992).


Stephen Mitchell, The Gospel According to Jesus (New York: HarperCollins, 1991).


Marcus Borg, Jesus, A New Vision: Spirit, Culture, and the Life of Discipleship (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987); Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1994) and Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1994).


Barbara Thiering, Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Unlocking the Secrets of His Life Story (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992).


Although Mack’s work is not explicitly part of this quest, his two major works are closely aligned to the methods and presuppositions surveyed here; see Burton Mack, A Myth of Innocence: Mark and Christian Origins (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988) and especially The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993).


Most notably, John Crossan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991); Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994); and Who Killed Jesus? Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story of the Death of Jesus (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995).


Cullen Murphy, “Who Do Men Say That I Am,” The Atlantic Monthly (December 1986), pp. 37–58.


Kerry Temple, “Who Do Men Say That I Am?” The Humanist (May/June 1991), pp. 7–15.


Russell Shorto, “Cross Fire,” GQ (June 1994), pp. 117–123.


Charlotte Allen, “Away with the Manger,” Lingua Franca (February 1995), pp. 1, 22–30.


John Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, 2 vols. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1991–1994). Meier’s work does not, in the main, fall under the summarizing comments I make in this article. For an appreciation and critique of his volumes, see my reviews, “A Marginal Mediterranean Jewish Peasant,” Commonweal 119 (April 1992), pp. 24–26; and “Testing the Gospel Story,” Commonweal 121 (November 1994), pp. 33–35.


T.W. Manson, “The Failure of Liberalism to Interpret the Bible as the Word of God,” in The Interpretation of the Bible, ed. Clifford W. Dugmore (London: SPCK, 1944), p. 92.


Borg, New Vision, p. 20, n. 25; Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship, pp. 59–61.


See Funk’s opening remarks in Forum 1/1 (1985), 12. The works by these authors are examined more fully in my newly published study; see Luke T. Johnson, The Real Jesus: The Misguided Quest of the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995).


Meier, Marginal Jew, vol. 1, pp. 1–40.


See Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, ed. Robert A. Kraft and Gerhard Krodel (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971).


Morton Smith, The Secret Gospel (New York: Harper & Row, 1973).


Willi Marxsen, Introduction to the New Testament, trans. G. Buswell (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1968), pp. 59–68.


See, for example, A. De Oliveira, Die Diakonie der Gerechtigkeit und der Versöhnung in der Apologie des 2. Korintherbriefes (Münster: Aschendorff, 1990), pp. 6–18.


For example, Raymond E. Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciple (New York: Paulist Press, 1979).


Borg, New Vision, pp. 28–38. Geza Vermes’s Jesus the Jew (New York: Macmillan, 1973), in fact, is also cited by A.N. Wilson and John Spong as a decisive influence. John Meier demonstrates just how little evidence there is on which to base such a “type” (see Marginal Jew, vol. 2, pp. 583–590).


This becomes formulaic in Crossan’s Who Killed Jesus? See, for example, pp. 11–12, 40–42, 50–58.


Mack, Myth of Innocence, p. 254.


See, for example, Crossan, Historical Jesus, p. 426; Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, p. 200; and Who Killed Jesus, p. 217.


See Johnson, “Crisis in Biblical Scholarship,” Commonweal 120 (April 1993), pp. 18–21, which agrees with many of the positions of Jon D. Levenson (The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical Criticism [Westminster: John Knox Press, 1993]).


It has taken me a long time to recognize the subtle influence on my thinking of Hans Frei, The Identity of Jesus Christ: The Hermeneutical Bases of Dogmatic Theology (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975). In fact, even in the writing of my book, I did not appreciate that I was moving back to a point made so well by Frei.


See, for example, the challenge to the image of Jesus as the suffering one in Michael Harrington, The Vast Majority: A Journey to the World’s Poor (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1977), pp. 94–95; or Susan Griffin, Pornography and Silence (New York: Harper & Row, 1981), pp. 14–15, 46–47, 68–69.