Book Question

I’m becoming more and more interested in the subject of the historical Jesus. I believe the material we have in the Bible about Jesus does not misrepresent Him, but I know that some do not feel the same way.

Historical Jesus

I’m wondering what books are out there about the subject that you would recommend. I’ve got a couple of titles (Sanders’ The Historical Figure of Jesus, Bock’s Studying the Historical Jesus), but haven’t gotten around to reading them yet. Should I start with one of those or something else?



17 thoughts on “Book Question

  1. John P. Meier’s series A Marginal Jew is excellent (if large and very detailed!). I also found Theissen and Merz’ The Historical Jesus provides a nice balance between breadth and depth.

  2. Bock’s book is not on the Historical Jesus so much as it on how to study the historical Jesus. His Jesus according to the Scriptures is excellent though. I agree with Dr. McGrath above, but if you are looking for something from more of an evangelical point of view you could try Jesus and the Eye Witnesses by Bauckham, and I am looking forward to Keener’s The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, which should be out Nov 15. I am guessing it will be a very detailed work on the historical data and reliability if the Gospels.

    1. I think I’ll get Bauckham’s book with my next WTS order. I heard Keener had that one coming out. Nov 15 happens to be my birthday. Maybe I can convince someone (my wife) to get it for me.

  3. For an overview of the debate, I would recommend Ben Witherington’s evaluations in The Jesus Quest: The Third Quest for the Jew of Nazareth. Similarly, Daniel above already pointed out Bock’s conservative treatment in Jesus According to Scripture where he presents the portrait of Jesus on the basis of the four-canonical gospels rather fluidly.

    My final recommendation of a thorough volume on the Historical Jesus would be James Dunn’s Jesus Remembered .

  4. I wouldn’t necessarily consider Jesus According to Scripture a “historical Jesus” book although it is thoroughly excellent. It is, in my opinion, more of an introduction to the Gospels than anything else.

    That said, the Bock book you already own will be good to start with because it deals with methodology. That will set you up to read other works. James’ suggestion of the A Marginal Jew series is a good one, as is Daniel’s suggestion of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. In addition to those I’d recommend James Dunn’s Jesus Remembered. I’d also throw Raymond Brown’s two works The Birth of the Messiah and The Death of the Messiah into the ring. Their focus is more narrow than any of the other works suggested, but anything written by Brown is worth reading. Oh, and Paul Barnett’s Finding the Historical Christ is also quite good from what I’ve read so far. I have every reason to believe that it’s going to continue to be good as I read on.

      1. Oh, and now that I just saw that he recommended BW3 as well, I’d say that Craig Evans’ Fabricating Jesus would serve as a nice intro to the basics of historical Jesus studies and also a corrective on a lot that goes on with some of the more radical American scholars.

      2. I’ll forgive you this time, Nick!

        I think I should note that if you were to rely on Dunn, you would need to supplement his work on (1) the Gospel of John (probably with Bauckham); (2) early Christology and (3) self-identity.

  5. Nick: I’m glad you’re recommending the book I already have by Bock. Saves me some money. I’ll go ahead and start there.

    I’ve got to start a shopping list with all the others people are suggesting. I love it though.

    Actually, I’m reading Fabricating Jesus now. Thus why I’m becoming interested in learning more about the historical Jesus debate.

  6. Dang, nobody’s recommended Wright’s “Jesus and the Victory of God” (along with “New Testament and the People of God”)? Really? That was my introduction and I thought it was fantastic.

    Bryan L

  7. Oh yeah I also have heard some good things about Bockmuehl’s book on Jesus and I think there is a Cambridge Companion to Jesus that you might want to check out.

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