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5 Stars Out Of 5
Good introduction to "The Quest"
May 11, 2017
The previous reviewer has written a good summary of what you get in the book, so I will not rehash that.
This is one of the most engaging and stimulating books of history I've read in the past ten years. The essays are heavy on theory, but it is useful theory. Each author provides a particular framework through which they approach the historical Jesus, and I think it helps the reader understand how they personally view him as well.
The opening historiographical essay describing the quest for the historical jesus from its beginning to contemporary times is very interesting. For those unfamiliar with the "quest" like myself, it is like opening a window onto a broad new vista of thought. It is an academic world you are entering, but the material and theories are approachable and understandable. Mercifully for the laymen out there (myself included), the editors forced the authors into page constraints, so they have to get to the point!
Secondly, the rest of the book's essay (and responses) give a good snapshot of the current state of this historical debate. This approach is very well done. All the essays are impressive for the obvious breadth of learning each of these historians has achieved. Their writing is convincing, even when they represent polar opposite views. I appreciated the opportunity to see all sides of the academic debate.
Lastly, while I have my own conservative biases, I certainly believe Price and Crossan add to our understanding of the topic. They help all of us, left and right, put flesh on the bones of a distant and strange world. In the same vein, conservatives need to be able to understand and approach intelligently such skeptics of the Jesus presented by the Bible.
The Historical Jesus: Five Views, edited by James K. Beilby and Paul R. Eddy, brings together a wide spectrum of opinions from today's leading voices in the quest for the historical Jesus. Beilby is the professor of systematic and philosophical theology, and Eddy is the professor of biblical and theological studies at Bethel University. Together they have written and/or edited numerous books, including, Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views and The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views. Beilby and Eddy bring both expertise and direction to the conversation as they continue to exhibit a growing track record of healthy discussion across various theological spectrums. It is largely the work of these two men that brings together an otherwise disconnected array of scholarship. Consequently, The Historical Jesus: Five Views exhibits a breath of fresh air amid a rapidly growing and diverse conversation that is certain to engage and enlighten readers of all backgrounds.
The book begins with a healthy introduction to the historical landscape surrounding the quest for the historical Jesus. The reader already familiar with the ongoing discussion concerning the issues of the book will find this opening chapter to be a solid refresher to an increasingly complex conversation. The reader largely unfamiliar with the conversation will appreciate the breadth of detail overflowing from these 45 pages, and should be able to confidently place the coming chapter within the broader discussion. Because the aim of the book is to highlight and examine the various methods used to unearth the historical Jesus, the methodological survey in the introduction is invaluable. Personally, I found the introduction among the most helpful chapters in the entire book and anticipate most readers will as wellespecially considering the wide spectrum of opinions that follow.
The layout seems to move from left to right across the evangelical spectrum, with ample room for interaction following each contributing article. First, the reader will encounter a self-attested controversial essay by Robert M. Price. Price is among the few scholars today who still maintains the notion that Jesus probably didnt exist. I found myself disagreeing with Price on almost every page, but I appreciated his contribution and anticipated his interaction with the other contributors more than any of the other contributors. Second, the reader will encounter an important essay by John Dominic Crossan. Crossan has been a voice within the conversation for some time now and his interaction is valuable, but the interaction against Crossan from the other contributors was even more valuableespecially from Dunn and Bock. Third, the reader will meet a stimulating article by Luke Timothy Johnson. The reader will appreciate the brevity of Johnsons methodological approach. However, despite my agreement with many of his points, I found his contribution mediocre at best. Fourth, the reader will encounter the contribution of James D. G. Dunn. Dunn largely summarizes and synthesizes his more detailed work on the subject. This is helpful for those unfamiliar with Dunn, or those who simply dont have the time to read his fuller work. Finally, the reader will encounter the contribution of Darrel L. Bock. Similar to Price, Bocks contribution will be controversial for many. Not because he is a sceptic but because he is a conservative evangelical.
The Historical Jesus: Five Views is has brought together the most prominent contemporary voices in the current quest for the historical Jesus. As stated above, and, as is the case with all the books within the Spectrum: Multiview Books series published by IVP Academic, the present volume is a goldmine for familiarizing oneself with the broader conversational voices. Still, The Historical Jesus: Five Views is among the most helpful of this type of resource and comes highly recommended to anyone interested in embarking on the quest for the historical Jesus.