Courtesy of John Dominic Crossan

The historical Crossan was rocketed to fame—or infamy—with the publication of Peter Steinfels’s review of his book The Historical Jesus, which appeared on the front page of The New York Times just two days before Christmas in 1991. In The Historical Jesus and other books, Crossan turns to extrabiblical texts and anthropological data to reconstruct peasant life in the first-century Mediterranean world. In so doing, he calls into question the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life. But while he debates the value of the Gospels as historical record, he accepts their truth as parables—a fact, Crossan claims, often overlooked or misunderstood by his critics.