1997 - William - R.G. Loader - The Historical Jesus Puzzle

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    THE HISTORICAL JESUS PUZZLE

    William R. G. Loader

    Revd Dr William Loader is Associate Professor

    in New Testament at Murdoch University and

    Lecturer in the Perth Theological Hall of theUniting Church in Australia

    In this paper I shall address three main questions: Why ask about the historical

    Jesus? What new data do we have to warrant more research? and What, if any,

    findings can we identify in current research?1

    1. Why ask about the historical Jesus?

    The first is a serious question. Why enquire about the historical Jesus? One

    might counter: Why not? There are many reasons why some would consider the

    pursuit as only marginally relevant if not useless. From the perspective of Christian

    faith, is it not a living Jesus who concerns us? Does concern with the historical

    Jesus not reflect a failure to take resurrection faith seriously? Others might point to

    the message of Christs death for us on the cross and his resurrection as the core of

    the Christian message. What more can detailed information about Jesus life offer

    1 There are a number of very useful reviews of current Jesus scholarship. Among the most

    recent I include the following: M. J. Borg,Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship (Valley

    Forge, Penn.: Trinity Press International, 1994); J. Carlson, and R. A. Ludwig (eds)Jesus

    and Faith. A Conversation on the Work of John Dominic Crossan author of The Historical

    Jesus (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1994); R. Crotty, The Jesus Question. The Historical Search

    (Blackburn, Vic.: HarperCollinsReligious, 1996); L. T. Johnson, The Real Jesus. the

    Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels(San

    Francisco: Harper, 1996); B. Witherington, The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the

    Jew of Nazareth (Downers Grove: IVP, 1995); N. T. Wright, Christian Origins and the

    Question of God Vol 2. Jesus and the Victory of God.(Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996) 3-

    124.

    LOADER: HISTORICAL JESUS 131

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