New Testament scholars have long debated the historical identity of Jesus and the development of Christology within the church's history. In Who Is Jesus?: Disputed Questions and Answers
Lutheran scholar Carl Braaten reviews the various historical Jesus quests, arguing that it is time for the current ("third") quest to admit failure. Against the belief that "the real Jesus has been lost and needs to be found," Braaten maintains that the only real Jesus is the One presented in the canonical Gospels and that "any other Jesus is irrelevant to Christian faith." He draws on a wealth of historical resources to address such contentious questions as these:
- What can we actually know about Jesus of Nazareth?
- Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
- Is Jesus unique -- the one and only way of salvation?
- Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?
- Was Jesus the founder of the Christian church?
- What does Jesus have to do with politics?
Few are more highly qualified than Carl Braaten to offer commentary--and enduring perspectives--on the so-called 'quest for the historical Jesus.' As Braaten argues, the sundry 'makeovers' of Jesus constitute our own attempts to fashion--and reduce--Jesus to our own image rather than to remain in continuity with Scripture and with the historic Christian tradition. Braaten's conclusion is emphatic: Jesus Christ can never be the end-product of a scholarly 'quest'; rather, the necessary eyewitness accounts have already been entrusted to Christ's church through divine revelation. Whether or not we have the fortitude to embrace that witness is another matter.
-J. Daryl Charles
Bryan Institute for Critical Thought & Practice
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