Craig Keener's The Historical Jesus of the Gospels provides a defining argument leveraging an exhaustive amount of textual and historical evidence for the authenticity of the gospels' portrayal of Christ.
Known as an expert in ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman sources relating to the New Testament, Keener argues. In The Historical Jesus of the Gospels that the picture of Jesus presented in the Synoptic Gospels is far more plausible than many scholars give them credit for, and that the picture they paint is far more coherent than theories offered by the competing evidence proffered and reconstructed by modern scholarship.
As always Keener is exhaustive in both research and scope (the book contains 9 Appendices and over 500 pages of notes and citations) and examines evidence from the ancient world, and the Gospels themselves with world class scholarly precision. This book is ideal for graduate courses on the Synoptic Gospels that are especially concerned to deal with the question of the Historical Jesus, the events of his life, or the accuracy of the Synoptic witness.
The earliest substantive sources available for historical Jesus research are in the Gospels themselves; when interpreted in their early Jewish setting, their picture of Jesus is more coherent and plausible than are the competing theories offered by many modern scholars. So argues Craig Keener in The Historical Jesus of the Gospels.
In exploring the depth and riches of the material found in the Synoptic Gospels, Keener shows how many works on the historical Jesus emphasize just one aspect of the Jesus tradition against others, but a much wider range of material in the Jesus tradition makes sense in an ancient Jewish setting. Keener masterfully uses a broad range of evidence from the early Jesus traditions and early Judaism to reconstruct a fuller portrait of the Jesus who lived in history.
Craig S. Keener is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. He is the author of many other books, including The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary and The Gospel of John: A Commentary
Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J.
-- Catholic University of America
"With critical acumen, Craig Keener presents a comprehensive account of the study of the historical Jesus. It will be a boon for all readers -- inquisitive laypeople, pastors, students of the Gospels, and biblical colleagues."
James H. Charlesworth
-- Princeton Theological Seminary
"Keener proves why the Evangelists' view of Jesus is preferable to most modern constructs: the Gospels, as ancient biographies, reflect eyewitness accounts of Jesus and provide the only valid sources for reconstructing the historical Jesus. . . . This book is exceptional for its breadth and its captivating prose."
-- University of Heidelberg
"Historical Jesus research has developed in the last decades from a 'postminimalism' concerning the authenticity of Jesus traditions to a new 'moderate confidence' in the historicity of the Gospels. Craig Keener's book is both a milestone and a boundary stone in this development. By contextualizing the sources of Jesus research and Jesus himself, Keener succeeds in increasing the historical plausibility of the Gospels to a degree that is exceptional among critical exegetes. Therefore this book must be read and taken seriously -- both by those exegetes who are reluctant to support this 'historical-critical maximalism' in Jesus research and by those reluctant to contextualize Jesus in such a way. But both will enjoy reading what Keener has written with an open and critical mind."