The Historical Jesus
Is it possible to identify the first-century man named Jesus behind the many stories and traditions about him that developed over 2,000 years in the Gospels and church teachings? These articles, hand-selected by Biblical Archaeology Society editors especially for members of the BAS Library, attempt to answer this thought-proving question and grapple with the critical archaeological and Biblical issues that surround the search for the historical Jesus.
Over the years, when editors and journalists have asked me to write about the historical Jesus, almost invariably the first question they raise is: Can you really prove he existed? The implication is that the biblical evidence for Jesus is biased because it is encased in a theological text written by committed believers.
About 40 scholars, all specialists in the study of the historical Jesus, are seated around a table. They have just completed their discussion of a saying attributed to Jesus in the Gospels. The time has come for each to vote on a simple but complex question: Do you think Jesus actually said that? Or, […]
The relatively plain ossuary (bone box) described in the preceding article by André Lemaire is doubly important to the study of early Christianity. It is the earliest archaeological artifact ever found that refers to Jesus; in fact, it is the only nearly contemporaneous artifact that mentions Jesus. This gives it a breathtaking significance in […]
The quest for the historical Jesus began as a protest against traditional Christian dogma. But when the supposedly “neutral” historians peered into the well, all they saw was a featureless Jesus. Even when these scholars decided that everybody else—John the Baptist, the evangelists, Paul, the Q peoplea and so on—was at home in a […]
Sean Freyne is director of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies, as well as emeritus professor of theology, at Trinity College Dublin. His research focuses on the integration of literary and archaeological sources for understanding the social and religious world of Galilee in Hellenistic and Roman times. Editor Hershel Shanks sat down with Professor Freyne […]
Albert Schweitzer, after reviewing the 19th century’s quest for the historical Jesus, believed that honest scholars must choose between two alternatives, between what he called thoroughgoing eschatologya and thoroughgoing skepticism. By this he meant that either Jesus lived in the same imaginative world as early Jewish apocalypses,b like 1 Enoch and 2 Baruch, or […]
Luke Timothy Johnson’s recent article in BR and the book on which it is based raise a question of profound importance for Christian faith and theology. The question is immediately clear from their titles. The book is called The Real Jesus and subtitled The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth […]
Currently I am working on a book on the historical Jesus, trying to determine what we can say about the life of Jesus here on earth in terms that would satisfy an objective historian. Contrary to my expectation, it has turned out to be a two-volume project. The first volume—484 pages—has recently been published.a […]
The first half of this decade has been a busy one for questers after the historical Jesus. The Jesus Seminar capped a decade of self-promotion with the publication of The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus.1 Highly publicized forays into the search for Jesus were undertaken by amateurs like Bishop […]