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Biblical Studies Jesus of Nazareth
by
Pierluigi Piovanelli

Introduction

In modern and contemporary research, the study of the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth has become a specialized branch of New Testament and early Christian studies, distinct from research into the different forms of worship of the divinized Christ found in various early Christian communities. The first approach presupposes a critical reading of the primary sources (mainly canonical and extracanonical Christian texts) in order to retrieve the historical evidence buried beneath layers of Christological interpretations. Conversely, the scope of the second is more exegetical and focuses precisely on the Christological ideas and theological messages that the first Christian thinkers and authors tried to convey in their writings. The first is the outcome of the European Enlightenment and its appeal to reason and rationality in order to explain the diverse phenomena of human history, including the miraculous events that, according to Christian traditions, characterized Jesus’ earthly life. The second corresponds to the scholarly side of time-honored Christian faith and confession, rooted in the proclamation of Paul and echoed by the authors of the first biographies of Jesus. However, in spite of the apparently irreconcilable opposition between history and theology, in the case of the historical Jesus, specialists of either discipline cannot simply ignore what is accomplished in the other field. On the one hand, an exegetical and theological background is required in order to navigate through the textual complexities of Christian primary sources—a methodological sophistication that is now perfectly encapsulated in the holistic approach of sociorhetorical criticism. On the other hand, the Jewish and Christian religions are based on a special relationship that God has established with his creatures in and through the course of history; the human career of the Christ is not an exception and should not be less relevant than the proclamations of his followers—in fact, the opposite is true. Actually, this is exactly the feeling of the majority of Christian specialists who, in the last 250 years, have devoted themselves to the controversial study of the historical Jesus: many of them did and still do wish to use the results of their research to build alternative models for a radical reformation of Christianity. From a postmodern point of view, we could say that the large majority of those often self-proclaimed historians had and still have a robustly theological agenda. (Because of the vast amount of scholarship on Jesus, including many anthologies and collections of significant essays, articles published in journals or chapters in collective volumes will not be mentioned in this bibliography. Almost all of the books treated here have been published since 1985.)

Introductory Works

General surveys can be found in some recent introductions to the New Testament that are used as standard texts for introductory courses on early Christianity. Brown 1997, Freed 2000, Burkett 2002, and deSilva 2004 offer well-balanced overviews of the research from Reimarus to the Jesus Seminar and of contemporary debates about the apocalyptic or sapiential nature of Jesus’ ministry, while the perspectives of Achtemeier, et al. 2001, Ehrman 2008, and Theissen 2002 are more personal. Conzelmann and Lindemann 2004 is an excellent introduction in German.

  • Achtemeier, Paul J., Joel B. Green, and Marianne Meye Thompson. Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001.

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    The picture provided of the historical Jesus is relatively close to that of the Messiah, Son of Man, found in the Gospel of Mark.

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  • Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. Anchor Bible Reference Library. New York and London: Doubleday, 1997.

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    Raises some warnings about the reconstructed nature of contemporary portraits of the historical Jesus.

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  • Burkett, Delbert. An Introduction to the New Testament and the Origins of Christianity. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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    The best introduction for absolute beginners, with discussion and review questions.

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  • Conzelmann, Hans, and Andreas Lindemann. Arbeitsbuch zum Neuen Testament 14th ed. Uni-Taschenbücher 52. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2004.

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    This has been the standard introduction to the New Testament in German since its first edition in 1975. The fourth part, on Jesus of Nazareth, is a short but exhaustive and invaluable monograph in itself. English translation: Interpreting the New Testament: An Introduction to the Principles and Methods of N.T. Exegesis, translated by Siegfried S. Schatzmann (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1988; based on the eighth edition, 1985).

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  • deSilva, David A. An Introduction to the New Testament: Context, Methods and Ministry Formation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004.

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    Another excellent introduction written by a specialist on the social and cultural world of Jesus.

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  • Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. 4th ed. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    Devotes four well-documented chapters to research on the historical Jesus and finally refutes the arguments in favor of a sapiential Jesus, instead opting for a prophetic and apocalyptic figure. First edition published in 1997.

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  • Freed, Edwin D. The New Testament: A Critical Introduction. 3d ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2000.

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    Acknowledges, with reason, that contemporary research tends to see in the historical Jesus either a prophet or a social reformer. First edition published in 1986.

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  • Theissen, Gerd. Das Neue Testament. Taschenbuch. Munich: Beck, 2002.

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    A useful summary of Theissen’s main ideas about the historical Jesus as a charismatic healer and eschatological prophet. English translation: Fortress Introduction to the New Testament, translated by John Bowden (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003).

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Surveys

Some surveys provide comprehensive syntheses of how the figure of Jesus has been perceived throughout the ages, from the earliest Christian generations and into contemporary popular culture, while others are more specifically devoted to a certain topic or period of history. Depending on his or her interests, one could begin to read either Allen 1998 and Tatum 1999, or Brown 1994 and Tuckett 2001, and then progress with Bennett 2001 and Karkkainen 2003, before getting involved in the complexities of Hurtado 2003 and Theissen and Merz 1996.

Jesus through the Ages

Pelikan 1985 and Tatum 2009 offer useful overviews of the transformation that the figure of Jesus has undergone in the theology art, and literature of the Western world, while the scope of Bennett 2001 is larger, embracing non-Western perspectives. Valuable surveys of ancient apocryphal and/or non-Christian traditions and texts are offered by Elliott 1996, Franzmann 1996, Khalidi 2001, Schäfer 2007, and Van Voorst 2000.

Christological Studies

Greene 2004 and Karkkainen 2003 provide historical and thematic introductions to Christology. Brown 1994 and Tuckett 2001 are devoted to the Christologies embodied in the writings of the New Testament, while Collins and Collins 2008 and Hurtado 2003 deal with the development of Second Temple Jewish and early Christian messianism. Grigg 2000 and Keck 2000 are more concerned with contemporary issues.

  • Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to New Testament Christology. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1994.

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    One of the best thematic introductions to early Christian Christologies, with four appendixes: “A Brief History of the Development of Royal Messianic Hope in Israel,” “The Reality of the Resurrection of Jesus,” “Did New Testament Christians Call Jesus God?” and “Features in the Christology of the Gospel According to John.”

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  • Collins, Adela Yarbro, and John J. Collins. King and Messiah as Son of God: Divine, Human, and Angelic Messianic Figures in Biblical and Related Literature. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008.

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    The best synthesis of the most recent trends in the study of the evolution of ancient messianism, from its earliest manifestations in the Hebrew Bible to its later reconfiguration in the Revelation of John.

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  • Greene, Colin J. D. Christology in Cultural Perspective: Marking Out the Horizons. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004.

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    A cultural study of the major Christological trajectories and paradigms, from Benedict Spinoza and the Deists to Karl Barth, Jürgen Moltmann, and postmodernity.

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  • Grigg, Richard. Imaginary Christs: The Challenge of Christological Pluralism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000.

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    A sensitive and well-documented attempt to cope with the postmodern flourishing of so many “historical Jesuses and imaginary Christs.”

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  • Hurtado, Larry W. Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003.

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    A bold attempt to reconstruct the beginnings and the development of early Christian devotion to Jesus that updates Wilhelm Bousset’s classic monograph Kyrios Christos: Geschichte des Christusglaubens von den Anfängen des Christentums bis Irenaeus (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1913). For advanced students.

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  • Karkkainen, Veli-Matti. Christology: A Global Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003.

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    A comprehensive survey of biblical, historical, and contemporary Christologies.

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  • Keck, Leander E. Who Is Jesus? History in Perfect Tense. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000.

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    A critical inquiry about Jesus’ present identity and significance.

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  • Tuckett, Christopher M. Christology and the New Testament: Jesus and His Earliest Followers. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001.

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    A presentation of the variety of early Christian Christologies organized by groups of New Testament writings, with a final section devoted to “The Sayings Source Q” and “Jesus’ Self-understanding.”

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Historical Jesus Research

The introductions of Herzog 2005, Tatum 1999, and Theissen and Merz 1996 are written for an academic audience, while Allen 1998, Den Heyer 1996, and Murphy 2007 are intended for a more general readership.

  • Allen, Charlotte. The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus. New York and Toronto: Free Press, 1998.

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    Written by a journalist in a nonscholarly style, this is a well-documented and extremely enjoyable introduction to the history of research on Jesus, which pays special attention to all of its cultural aspects.

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  • Den Heyer, C. J. Opnieuw: Wie is Jezus? Balans van 150 jaar onderzoek naar Jezus. Zoetermeer, The Netherlands: Meinema, 1996.

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    A concise and insightful survey of the main stages of research on the historical Jesus, contextualized in the cultural history of the past two centuries. Note that a special chapter is devoted to the nonacademic “New Pictures of Jesus” in popular culture. English translation by John Bowden: Jesus Matters: 150 Years of Research (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity, 1997).

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  • Herzog, William R. Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2005.

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    A good introduction to anthropological and social-scientific methods as they are currently being applied in research on the historical Jesus.

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  • Murphy, Catherine M. The Historical Jesus for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2007.

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    An excellent and easily accessible introduction, written by a young specialist on the Dead Sea Scrolls, for all but “dummies.”

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  • Tatum, W. Barnes. In Quest of Jesus. 2d ed. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1999.

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    One of the best textbooks in existence, well organized and always clear, recommended for undergraduate courses. First edition published in 1982.

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  • Theissen, Gerd, and Annette Merz. Der historische Jesus: Ein Lehrbuch. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1996.

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    Conceived as a “comprehensive guide” to the different sources on Jesus’ life and their critical evaluation, as well as the historical background of Jesus and the main aspects of his career, up to the passion, the resurrection, and the beginnings of Christology. A perfect distillation of more than two centuries of German research. For advanced students. English translation by John Bowden: The Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998).

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Collections of Essays

Anthologies of key texts (Dunn and McKnight 2005, Ford and Higton 2002, Levine, et al. 2006, as well as Smith’s website) or articles (Bockmuehl 2001, Evans and Porter 1995, Meyer and Hughes 2001) can also be helpful in approaching the study of the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith. The selection below takes account of some volumes especially notable for their wide perspectives.

  • Bockmuehl, Markus N. A., ed. The Cambridge Companion to Jesus. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

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    The articles, written by some of the best British and North American specialists, are organized thematically and provide another excellent introduction to both “The Jesus of History” and “The History of Jesus.”

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  • Dunn, James D. G., and Scot McKnight, eds. The Historical Jesus in Recent Research. Sources for Biblical and Theological Study 10. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2005.

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    This voluminous anthology provides not only an excellent overview of current scholarship on Jesus, but also includes some classic contributions of a few earlier authors (Martin Kähler, Albert Schweitzer, Rudolf Bultmann, Henry J. Cadbury, and Joachim Jeremias).

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  • Evans, Craig A., and Stanley E. Porter, eds. The Historical Jesus: A Sheffield Reader. Biblical Seminar 33. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

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    A superb collection of seventeen articles originally published in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament. For advanced students.

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  • Ford, David F., and Mike Higton, eds. Jesus. Oxford Readers. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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    In contrast to the other compilations, this one contains no fewer than 343 excerpts from a great variety of texts on Jesus: canonical and extra-canonical; patristic, Byzantine, and medieval; Christian and non-Christian (pagan, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Islamic, and Hindu); reformist and counter-reformist; theological, philosophical, and historical; scholarly and popular. The excerpts are organized chronologically and thematically.

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  • Levine, Amy-Jill, Dale C. Allison, and John Dominic Crossan, eds. The Historical Jesus in Context. Princeton Readings in Religions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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    A sourcebook, mainly of primary texts, from Josephus on John the Baptist to Thallus on the crucifixion, including Jewish pseudepigrapha, rabbinic writings, and Greco-Roman literature.

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  • Meyer, Marvin, and Charles Hughes, eds. Jesus Then and Now: Images of Jesus in History and Christology. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 2001.

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    Another very well balanced collection of essays that cover a wide spectrum of images of Jesus, including Jewish and Islamic examples.

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  • Smith, Mahlon H. Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus.

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    A valuable collection of 340 excerpts from ancient texts on the political, intellectual, social, and cultural climate of Jesus’ world.

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    Bibliographies

    Aside from Evans 1996, useful and up-to-date bibliographic information can be found in review articles, reviews, and book notes published in the most important journals (e.g., the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, the Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Novum Testamentum) or in New Testament Abstracts, as well as in databases of biblical and religious studies available online (e.g., BiBIL and ATLA) and in other online resources such as the The New Testament Gateway and the New Testament Bibliography #4: The Historical Jesus websites.

    From the First to the Second Quest (1778–1985)

    For almost two centuries, beginning with the posthumous and anonymous publication of Hermann Samuel Reimarus’s Fragments in 1778, and up until the late 1960s and early 1970s, the study of the historical figure of Jesus has been dominated by German scholarship, but since then its center of gravity has moved to English-speaking—more specifically, North American—research institutions. The historical and cultural reasons for this state of affairs should be self-evident, the quest for the “authentic Jesus” being the logical outcome of the Reformers’ longing for a Christian life lived in closer accordance with the original precepts laid out by Jesus and his apostles. Thus, at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, some German theologians were ready to take the critical step made possible by the philosophers of British Deism and French Illuminism. From David Friedrich Strauss to Adolf von Harnack, and in spite of Ernest Renan’s brilliant exception (more apparent than real), the most influential thinkers of the “First Quest” (1778–1906) were German, Protestant, liberal theologians, who created an image of Jesus in their likeness, presenting him as a great teacher of moral wisdom, freed from any dogmatic and legalistic authoritarianism. Among the German scholars of the period were Albert Schweitzer, the author who most vocally reacted against such an anachronistic reconstruction (Schweitzer 1913), as well as the main protagonists of the following stages of the research: Rudolf Bultmann and Martin Dibelius for the “No Quest” period (1906–1953), and Ernst Käsemann, Günther Bornkamm, and Joachim Jeremias for the “Second” or “New Quest” (1953–1985). One should not, however, forget the precursive role in some aspects of contemporary research played by a few non-German outsiders (e.g., Charles Harold Dodd of England) and by Jewish scholars such as Abraham Geiger and Joseph Klausner.

    Surveys

    Baird 1992, Dawes 2001 (together with its companion anthology, Dawes 1999), Hagner 1997, and Weaver 1999 provide well-documented histories of the research over an extended period, while Schweitzer 1913 and Robinson 1959 are concerned with, respectively, the First and the Second Quest.

    • Baird, William. History of New Testament Research. Vol. 1, From Deism to Tübingen. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992.

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      Indispensable for locating the different stages of historical-Jesus research within the larger intellectual context of New Testament studies. An interesting description of the laborious beginnings of theological and historical-critical studies in North American institutions is found in vol. 2, From Jonathan Edwards to Rudolf Bultmann (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003).

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    • Dawes, Gregory W. The Historical Jesus Question: The Challenge of History to Religious Authority. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001.

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      A sophisticated study of the work of some of the main scholars of the previous quests, not only David Friedrich Strauss, Albert Schweitzer, Rudolf Bultmann, and Ernst Käsemann, but also the philosopher Benedict Spinoza and the theologians Ernst Troeltsch, Karl Barth, and Wolfhart Pannenberg. For advanced students.

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    • Dawes, Gregory W., ed. The Historical Jesus Quest: A Foundational Anthology. Tools for Biblical Study Series 2. Leiden, The Netherlands: Deo, 1999.

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      An anthology of the key texts from the first stages of the Quest, from Hermann Samuel Reimarus’s Fragments VI and VII to the equally famous lecture on “The Problem of the Historical Jesus” given by Ernst Käsemann in 1953. American edition: The Historical Jesus Quest: Landmarks in the Search for the Jesus of History (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2000).

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    • Hagner, Donald A. The Jewish Reclamation of Jesus: An Analysis and Critique of Modern Jewish Study of Jesus. 2d ed. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1997.

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      A thematic examination of the Jewish contribution to the study of the historical Jesus in the 20th century, based on the works of Claude Goldsmid Montefiore, Israel Abrahams, Joseph Klausner, Samuel Sandmel, Schalom Ben-Chorin, David Flusser, Pinchas E. Lapide, and Geza Vermes. First edition published in 1984.

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    • Robinson, James M. A New Quest of the Historical Jesus. Studies in Biblical Theology 25. London: SCM, 1959.

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      Well-known survey of the Second Quest that introduced it to the Anglo-American biblical milieus.

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    • Schweitzer, Albert. Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschung. 2d ed. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1913.

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      Groundbreaking critical review of the First Quest for the historical Jesus that brought this stage of the research to its end. First edition published in 1906. English translation: The Quest of the Historical Jesus, edited by John Bowden and translated by W. Montgomery, J. R. Coates, Susan Cupitt, and John Bowden (London: SCM, 2000; Philadelphia: Fortress, 2001). The 1910 English translation of the first edition is available online.

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    • Weaver, Walter P. The Historical Jesus in the Twentieth Century, 1900–1950. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 1999.

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      Another impressive and invaluable survey that does not focus exclusively on German research. For example, one chapter is devoted to the main authors of the “Jewish Quest” and another to the writers who popularized the Jesus story. An appendix provides short biographies of the 136 authors considered, and there is also a valuable annotated bibliography of uncited works.

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    Major Works

    What follows is but a minimal selection of a few classic volumes produced by the earliest “questers.” Renan 1867 and Strauss 1840 are the two most famous and significant lives of Jesus published in the 19th century. After the critiques of Weiss 1892 and Wrede 1901, the very idea of writing a biography of Jesus became problematic among German scholars, hence the non-biographical sketches of Bultmann 1983 and even Bornkamm 1983; that methodological constraint, however, did not influence either Klausner 1922 or Vermes 1973.

    • Bornkamm, Günther. Jesus von Nazareth. 13th ed. Urban-Taschenbücher 19. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1983.

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      The most important synthesis of what an outstanding scholar of the Second Quest could say about the historical Jesus and his message, using a criterion as minimalist as that of “radical” or “double dissimilarity” (i.e., the true core of Jesus’ message lies in teachings that have no parallels in either Second Temple Judaism or early Christianity). First edition published in 1956. English translation: Jesus of Nazareth, translated by Irene and Fraser McLuskey with James M. Robinson (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995; 1st ed., 1960).

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    • Bultmann, Rudolf K. Jesus. Uni-Taschenbücher 1272. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1983.

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      In spite of his historical skepticism and theological reservations, Bultmann had no problem identifying and discussing the main teachings of “Jesus as Rabbi.” First edition published in 1926. Translated into many languages, including English: Jesus and the Word, translated by Louise Pettibone Smith and Erminie Huntress Lantero (New York: Scribners, 1958). The English translation is available online.

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    • Klausner, Joseph. Yeshu ha-Notsri: Zemano, Hayav ve-Torato. Jerusalem: Shtibel, 1922.

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      Perhaps not the first, but certainly the most vocal reclamation of the Jewishness of Jesus of Nazareth, who was not only a Galilean miracle worker and messianic claimant, but also “a great teacher of morality and an artist in parable.” English translation: Jesus of Nazareth: His Life, Times, and Teaching, translated by Herbert Danby (New York: Bloch, 1989; 1st ed., 1925).

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    • Renan, Ernest. Vie de Jésus, 13th ed. Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1867.

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      Renan is the first scholar to have written a bestselling book on the historical Jesus based on the new ideas coming from German faculties of divinity. First edition published in 1863. His work, still popular in the French-speaking world, was the victim of Albert Schweitzer’s bitter and (at least in part) unjustified criticism. Revised English translation: Life of Jesus, edited by Joseph H. Allen (Boston: Little, Brown, 1924; 1st ed., 1896).

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    • Strauss, David Friedrich. Das Leben Jesu, kritisch Bearbeitet. 2 vols. 4th ed. Tübingen, Germany: Osiander, 1840.

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      Strauss is the true, genial inventor of historical Jesus research, who was able to provide, among other things, the first scientific interpretation of what he called “the mythology of the New Testament.” First edition published in 1835. English translation: The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, edited by Peter C. Hodgson and translated by George Eliot (Lives of Jesus Series; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972; 1st ed., 1860). A partial transcription of the English translation is available online.

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    • Vermes, Geza. Jesus the Jew: A Historian’s Reading of the Gospels. London: SCM, 1973.

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      Vermes’ Jesus was a Hasid, a Galilean prophet and holy man who used the expression “son of man” in a nontitular way, as a circumlocution for himself or human beings in general.

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    • Weiss, Johannes. Die Predigt Jesu vom Reiche Gottes. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1892.

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      A strong case for an eschatological interpretation of Jesus’ message that served to undermine the moralistic readings of liberal scholarship. English translation: Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, edited and translated by R. Hyde Hiers and D. Larrimore Holland (London: SCM; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971).

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    • Wrede, William. Das Messiasgeheimnis in den Evangelien: Zugleich ein Beitrag zum Verständnis des Markus-Evangeliums. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1901.

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      An attempt to attribute to the earliest Christian communities and the authors of the gospels the belief that Jesus was willing to keep secret his messianic status. Wrede’s conclusions resulted in a fatal blow to the positivistic assumption that the Gospel of Mark provides a reliable picture of Jesus’ activities. English translation: The Messianic Secret, translated by J. C. G. Greig (Cambridge and London: Clarke, 1971).

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    The Contemporary Quest (1985–PRESENT)

    After World War II, a growing number of European professors began to establish themselves in the United States, while some promising American students were able to spend a few years at European universities. Thanks to the efforts of Helmut Koester, James M. Robinson, and Norman Perrin, among others, the main ferments of the Second Quest crossed the ocean and, revitalized by a certain amount of North American pragmatism, paved the way for the flourishing of a new generation of questers. In 1985, two major events marked (retrospectively) the start of the Third or Renewed Quest: the first was the creation by Robert W. Funk of the Jesus Seminar, a group of about 150 specialists determined to ascertain in a scientific and collegial way what exactly constitutes the authentic sayings and deeds of the historical Jesus; the second was the publication by Ed Parish Sanders of a bold attempt to recontextualize Jesus in his Second Temple Jewish milieu. The main achievement of the Jesus Seminar is perhaps the reclamation, exemplified in the works of John Dominic Crossan and Marcus J. Borg, of a non-apocalyptic Jesus, a figure that is largely reminiscent of the liberal Jesus of the beginning of the 20th century. In contrast, Sanders and those who have similarly inquired about Jesus’ Jewishness seem to have rediscovered Schweitzer’s portrait of a truly eschatological prophet. Sanders’s “new perspective” has also corresponded to a renewal of interest in the historical Jesus among Anglican and Episcopalian scholars, from Nicholas Thomas Wright to Bruce Chilton, on both sides of the ocean—a new passion for Jesus that, since the mid–1990s, has truly become global.

    Surveys

    Gowler 2007 and Kirby’s website Historical Jesus Theories provide well-balanced and useful surveys. Arnal and Desjardins 1997 and Chilton and Evans 1994 are collections of essays written by various scholars from a variety of points of view. Borg 1994 conveys the perspectives of one of the leading members of the Jesus Seminar, while Witherington 1997 is very critical of the Seminar’s methods and findings. Finally, Powell 1998 and Schüssler Fiorenza 2000 call into question the very presuppositions of contemporary research.

    Jesus the Jewish Reformer

    Closer attention paid to Jesus’ original teachings, deemed to be recoverable through the reconstruction of the Sayings Source Q and the identification of its older strata, has led to the characterization of the historical Jesus as a Jewish radical teacher of unconventional wisdom, speaking in aphorisms and parables. Funk, et al. 1997 and Funk and the Jesus Seminar 1998 are the bedrock on which the figures of the spirit-filled mystic (Borg 2006), the Cynic-like philosopher (Crossan 1991, anticipated by the studies of F. Gerald Downing), or the itinerant wisdom sage (Patterson 1998) have been built. Funk 1996 and Schüssler Fiorenza 1994 explore the theological consequences of the rediscovery of a non-apocalyptic Jesus, while Horsley 1993 stresses the political aspects of his message.

    • Borg, Marcus J. Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006.

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      New, revised, and enlarged edition of Jesus: A New Vision. Spirit, Culture, and the Life of Discipleship (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987). According to Borg, Jesus was a “spirit person” who had experienced the reality of the sacred. He criticized the values of traditional wisdom and stressed the importance of compassion over purity.

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    • Crossan, John Dominic. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991.

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      Perhaps one of the most popular monographs produced by a member of the Jesus Seminar. In Crossan’s opinion, Jesus’ scandalous behavior was close to that of a Hellenistic Cynic philosopher.

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    • Funk, Robert W. Honest to Jesus: Jesus for a New Millennium. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996.

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      A provocative book, written by the founder of the Jesus Seminar, that questions the legitimacy of the traditional pictures of Jesus.

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    • Funk, Robert W., Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, eds. The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say? San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997.

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      Provides the results of the discussions on the authenticity of every single word of Jesus in the “Five Gospels” (including the Gospel of Thomas) carried out by the Fellows of the Jesus Seminar.

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    • Funk, Robert W., and the Jesus Seminar, eds. The Acts of Jesus: The Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jesus. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998.

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      This second of two volumes with Funk, et al. 1997 applies the same methodology as the previous volume to the deeds of Jesus described not only in the canonical gospels, but also in the Sayings Source Q and the Gospel of Peter.

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    • Horsley, Richard A. Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Jewish Resistance in Roman Palestine. 2d ed. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.

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      The first in a series of popular books in which Jesus is depicted as a nonviolent revolutionary striving to renew the communal life of Israel. First edition published in 1987.

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    • Patterson, Stephen J. The God of Jesus: The Historical Jesus and the Search for Meaning. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 1998.

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      Another cogent case for a non-apocalyptic Jesus.

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    • Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth. Jesus: Miriam’s Child, Sophia’s Prophet: Critical Issues in Feminist Christology. New York: Continuum, 1994.

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      A bold attempt to lay the foundations of a feminist Christology.

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    Jesus the Jewish Prophet

    To different degrees, the works that follow agree on the prophetic and, eventually, the messianic nature of Jesus’ ministry. Sanders 1985 is the monograph that promoted the rediscovery of Jesus’ Jewishness, future eschatology, and restoration goals that characterize the majority of the non–Jesus Seminar approaches of the Third Quest. More or less apocalyptic pictures of Jesus are then offered by Allison 1998, Chilton 2000, and Ehrman 1999. Chilton and Evans 1999a and Chilton and Evans 1999b provide a wide range of reactions to the achievements of the Jesus Seminar, while Dunn 2003 and Wright 1996 struggle to reconstruct a historical figure of Jesus as savior that is more consonant with traditional Christian beliefs. They also stress the relative faithfulness of the earliest Jesus traditions that eventually led to the production of the canonical gospels.

    Scholars in Dialogue

    Some useful snapshots of current debates can be obtained by reading works in which scholars holding opposite points of view act as if they are establishing a polite dialogue with their colleagues. This is actually the case with Beilby and Eddy 2009, Borg and Wright 1999, Crossan, et al. 1999, and Miller 2001. Borg 1997 and Greenspoon, et al. 2000 provide larger overviews, while Kloppenborg and Marshall 2005 and Newman 1990 focus on more specific—and divisive—questions.

    Other Scholarly Perspectives

    Listening to present-day voices in both a European (non-British) and a larger global context on the historical Jesus, as exemplified in Boyer and Rochais 2009, the reader with a North American perspective is struck by their relative conservatism, and even provincialism. For example, some European scholars (e.g., Becker 1996 and Gnilka 2007) are still evolving inside Bultmannian and post-Bultmannian (i.e., “Second Quest”) intellectual frameworks. Notable exceptions are Lüdemann, et al. 2004, Marguerat, et al. 2003, Schlosser 1999, and especially Theissen 2003, while Sobrino 1991 is an excellent representative of Latin American liberation perspectives.

    • Becker, Jürgen. Jesus von Nazaret. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1996.

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      Extremely well-documented study (useful thematic bibliographies are inserted at the beginning of each chapter and significant section) of Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God understood as having already begun in and through his ministry. English translation by James E. Crouch: Jesus of Nazareth (Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1998).

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    • Boyer, Chrystian, and Gérard Rochais, eds. Le Jésus de l’histoire à travers le monde/The Historical Jesus around the World. Montreal: Fides, 2009.

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      Twenty-three essays (fifteen written in English and eight in French) provide an extraordinary overview of the state of research on the historical Jesus from Canada to Australia and New Zealand, passing through South Africa and Scandinavia.

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    • Gnilka, Joachim. Jesus von Nazaret: Botschaft und Geschichte. 2d ed. Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany: Herder, 2007.

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      Another excellent study of Jesus’ aims and deeds that opts for a slightly more future-oriented interpretation of the reign of God. First edition published in 1990. English translation: Jesus of Nazareth: Message and History, translated by Siegfried S. Schatzmann (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997).

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    • Lüdemann, Gerd, with Frank Schleritt and Martina Janssen. Jesus nach 2000 Jahren: Was Jesus wirklich sagte und tat. 2d ed. Lüneburg, Germany: Zu Klampen, 2004.

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      A German response to the Jesus Seminar’s attempt to identify the authentic words and acts of Jesus preserved in the canonical and extracanonical gospels. First edition published in 2000. English translation by John Bowden: Jesus after 2000 Years: What He Really Said and Did (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2001).

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    • Marguerat, Daniel, Enrico Norelli, and Jean-Michel Poffet, eds. Jésus de Nazareth: Nouvelles approches d’une énigme. 2d ed. Le Monde de la Bible 38. Geneva, Switzerland: Labor et Fides, 2003.

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      It is thanks to the lectures published here that some glimpses of the Third Quest (e.g., the use of extracanonical sources) have been finally introduced to the French-speaking world. First edition published in 1998.

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    • Schlosser, Jacques. Jésus de Nazareth. Paris: Noesis, 1999.

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      Probably the best new synthesis on the historical Jesus published in French, by a renowned specialist from Strasbourg who is familiar with the work of his German colleagues.

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    • Sobrino, Jon. Jesucristo liberador: Lectura histórico-teológica de Jesús de Nazaret. Colección Estructuras y procesos, serie religión. Madrid: Trotta, 1991.

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      A powerful interpretation of the historical Jesus and his significance for the poor people of the Third World, by a leading Latin American liberation theologian. English translation by Paul Burns and Francis McDonagh: Jesus the Liberator: A Historical-Theological Reading of Jesus of Nazareth (Tunbridge Wells, UK: Burns and Oates; Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1993).

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    • Theissen, Gerd. Jesus als historische Gestalt: Beiträge zur Jesusforschung. Edited by Annette Merz. Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments 202. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2003.

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      A collection of seminal essays by the leading German specialist on the historical Jesus and early Christianity.

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    Special Topics

    In the second half of the 20th century, the discoveries of the ancient libraries of Nag Hammadi, in 1945, and Qumran, in 1947–1956, dramatically challenged the traditional understanding of Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity, including the background of Jesus and his earliest followers. In this respect, recent and contemporary historical Jesus research is anything but a repetition of old-fashioned schemes, and specialists should now be able to rely not only on canonical texts but also on previously unknown documents such as the Messianic Apocalypse (4Q521) and the Gospel of Thomas (NHC II,2). Moreover, since the days of Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch the advances made in anthropological and social scientific studies—to mention only two major areas in which research has made giant steps—are so significant that the reopening of apparently old debates should need no further justification. The only flaw in the highly polarized research of the present day—conservative versus liberal, theologically oriented versus religious studies, canonical versus apocryphal texts, Jewish pseudepigrapha or Christian apocrypha, Palestinian or Hellenistic features, texts or artifacts, and so on—is not only the lack of true conversation between specialists belonging to different schools, but also an inability to reconcile and explain all of the aspects of Second Temple Judaism that could have influenced Jesus with the variety of Christian responses that he and his followers have evoked. Moreover, most authors often give the impression of studying Jesus from a single perspective that is, in their opinion, the only legitimate one. It is to be hoped that in the future scholars will find a way to reconcile the contradictions of the Third Quest and to propose new syntheses based on the ensemble of newly available data, especially that which is emerging from the promising area of early Jewish and Christian mysticism, looking at the historical Jesus from less ethnocentric and more interdisciplinary perspectives. (Some significant works published before 1985 are included in the sections that follow.)

    Sociology and Anthropology

    Since around 1970, anthropological and social scientific approaches have dramatically reshaped the interpretation of early Christian phenomena, including the historical Jesus. General introductions are provided by Malina 2001a and Blasi, et al. 2002 (with an insightful initial overview by David G. Horrell). Hanson and Oakman 2008 and Stegemann and Stegemann 1995 reconstruct the economic, social, and cultural dynamics of the 1st-century Mediterranean world. North American and European perspectives in dialogue and controversy are to be found in Horsley 1994, Malina 2001b, Theissen 1977, and Stegemann, et al. 2002.

    • Blasi, Anthony J., Jean Duhaime, and Paul-André Turcotte, eds. Handbook of Early Christianity: Social Science Approaches. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira, 2002.

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      Twenty-seven contributions that introduce the reader to a wide range of social science theories and methods, as well as their application to different aspects of the Jesus movement and early Christianity includes a valuable thematic bibliography.

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    • Hanson, Kenneth C., and Douglas E. Oakman. Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Structures and Social Conflicts. 2d ed. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008.

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      A useful survey of late Second Temple society and culture, recommended for undergraduate courses. First edition published in 1998. The companion website gives access to a wealth of online resources.

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    • Horsley, Richard A. Sociology and the Jesus Movement. 2d ed. New York: Continuum, 1994.

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      Argues that the Jesus movement was less itinerant than is normally assumed and more engaged in a sedentary renewing of village social life. First edition published in 1989.

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    • Malina, Bruce J. The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology. 3d ed. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001a.

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      A classical introduction to the main features and values (such as honor and shame, dyadic rather than individual personality, or a complex purity system) of Jesus’ world. First edition published in 1981.

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    • Malina, Bruce J. The Social Gospel of Jesus: The Kingdom of God in Mediterranean Perspective. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001b.

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      An interesting attempt to recontextualize Jesus’ central message in the social environment of 1st-century Israel.

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    • Stegemann, Wolfgang, Bruce J. Malina, and Gerd Theissen, eds. The Social Setting of Jesus and the Gospels. Papers presented at the fourth annual meeting of the Context Group, Tutzing, Germany, June 1999. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002.

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      The proceedings of an international meeting held in 1999, with the participation of some of the best North American and European specialists.

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    • Stegemann, Ekkehard W., and Wolfgang Stegemann. Urchristliche Sozialgeschichte: Die Anfänge im Judentum und die Christusgemeinden in der mediterranen Welt. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1995.

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      An exhaustive analysis of economic and social conditions, including the social situation and roles of women, in the 1st-century Mediterranean world. English translation: The Jesus Movement by O. C. Dean Jr.: A Social History of Its First Century (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999).

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    • Theissen, Gerd. Soziologie der Jesusbewegung: Ein Beitrag zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Urchristentums. Munich: Kaiser, 1977.

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      Suggests a sociological continuity between Jesus and the itinerant prophets, defined here as “wandering charismatics,” who have left their marks especially in the radical ethic of the synoptic gospels. English translation by John Bowden: The First Followers of Jesus: A Sociological Analysis of the Earliest Christianity (UK) = Sociology of Early Palestinian Christianity (USA) (London: SCM; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978). The revised and expanded edition of this groundbreaking monograph has not yet been translated into English: Die Jesusbewegung: Sozialgeschichte einer Revolution der Werte (Gütersloh, Germany: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2004).

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    Galilean Background

    Beginning with the seminal studies of Martin Hengel, who has shown that by the mid–2nd century BCE Hellenism had already found its way into the Land of Israel, specialists have debated the extent of its influence in a region as rural and peripheral as Galilee. Among the most crucial issues under discussion are the degree of penetration of Greek (versus Aramaic) language and culture, and the changing nature of social and economic relations between the different strata of the Galilean population. Archaeological and textual evidence is weighed by Chancey 2002, Crossan and Reed 2001, Freyne 2000, Horsley 1996, and Reed 2000, as well as many of the contributions included in Charlesworth 2006. Freyne 2004 and Sawicki 2000 are sensitive attempts to reconstruct Jesus’ career from a regional point of view.

    Jesus’ Jewishness

    Charlesworth 1992 and Evans 1995 eloquently demonstrate that the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has also contributed to the reappraisal, in the study of the historical Jesus, of the role played by the slightly later rabbinic traditions. Nowadays Jesus’ Jewishness has been, or should have been, fully vindicated by works such as Charlesworth 1996 or Vermes 2003 and Vermes 1993. What is still hotly debated by scholars such as Charlesworth and Johns 1997, Chilton, et al. 2002, or, even more vehemently, Levine 2006, is Jesus’ proximity to other Jewish movements of his time such as the Pharisees or the Essenes.

    • Charlesworth, James H., ed. Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Anchor Bible Reference Library. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

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      A series of stimulating essays (including Morton Smith’s famous study, “Two Ascended to Heaven—Jesus and the Author of 4Q491”) that focus on the new perspectives introduced into research on the historical Jesus following the discovery and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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    • Charlesworth, James H., ed. Jesus’ Jewishness: Exploring the Place of Jesus within Early Judaism. 2d ed. New York: Crossroad, 1996.

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      An interesting anthology of reprinted essays by two distinguished theologians (Harvey Cox and Hans Küng) and seven specialists of Second Temple Judaism and the Historical Jesus (James H. Charlesworth, David Flusser, Daniel Harrington, John P. Meier, Ellis Rivkin, Alan Segal, and Geza Vermes). First edition published in 1991.

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    • Charlesworth, James H., and Loren L. Johns, eds. Hillel and Jesus: Comparative Studies of Two Major Religious Leaders. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997.

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      The proceedings of a symposium held in Jerusalem in 1992 and devoted to the two most influential religious leaders who lived in Israel prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.

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    • Chilton, Bruce, Craig A. Evans, and Jacob Neusner. The Missing Jesus: Rabbinic Judaism and the New Testament. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2002.

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      Based on a series of lectures delivered at Bard College, New York.

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    • Evans, Craig A. Jesus and His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies. Arbeiten zur Geschichte des antiken Judentums und des Urchristentums 25. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1995.

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      Deals with the parallels that can be found in newly published messianic texts from Qumran, early miracle stories, rabbinic parables and other forms of religious discourse, and ancient opposition to the Jerusalem Temple. For advanced students.

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    • Levine, Amy-Jill. The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006.

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      A powerful reclamation of Jesus’ Jewishness against all those critics—beginning with feminist and liberation theologians—who tend to downplay it.

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    • Vermes, Geza. The Religion of Jesus the Jew. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.

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      A careful analysis of Jesus’ techniques of scriptural interpretation, teachings, and message within the framework of Second Temple Jewish religiosity.

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    • Vermes, Geza. Jesus in His Jewish Context. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003.

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      Another useful collection of essays by one of the most illustrious contemporary Jewish questers. First edition published in 1983 with the title Jesus and the World of Judaism.

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    Sayings Source Q

    The reconstruction of the Sayings Source Q, which materialized in Robinson, et al. 2000, and the analysis of its textual stratification by Kloppenborg 1987 and Kloppenborg 2000 have paved the way for a different appreciation of the eschatological proclivities of first-generation Christian communities and, before them, the historical Jesus. These new perspectives, developed by Robinson 2005 and popularized by Mack 1993, have been explored by Ásgeirsson, et al. 2000, Lindemann 2001, and Tuckett 1996.

    • Ásgeirsson, Jón Magnús, Kristin de Troyer, and Marvin W. Meyer, eds. From Quest to Q: Festschrift James M. Robinson. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 146. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 2000.

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      A volume honoring one of the leading North American specialists on the historical Jesus, with thirteen essays on Q and related topics.

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    • Lindemann, Andreas, ed. The Sayings Source Q and the Historical Jesus. Papers presented at the 49th Bibliotheca Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense, Louvain, Belgium, 2000. Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 158. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 2001.

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      The impressive proceedings (thirty papers) of the 49th Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense, held in Louvain in 2000, on Q and the historical Jesus.

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    • Kloppenborg, John S. The Formation of Q: Trajectories in Ancient Wisdom Collections. Studies in Antiquity and Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987.

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      Identifies three compositional layers in Q: a formative stratum of sapiential instructions (Q1), subsequently modified by the addition of prophetic oracles of judgment (Q2), finally edited with the addition of the initial temptation story (Q3).

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    • Kloppenborg, John S. Excavating Q: The History and Setting of the Sayings Gospel. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000.

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      The most impressive attempt to reconstruct the textual and social history of “the Q Document and the Q People” in their original Galilean setting.

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    • Mack, Burton L. The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993.

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      Recovers the different layers of Q and locates them on the map of early Christian literature.

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    • Robinson, James M. The Sayings Gospel Q: Collected Essays. Edited by Christoph Heil and Joseph Verheyden. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 189. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 2005.

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      A splendid collection of essays that span the length of Robinson’s career, from 1964 to 2005.

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    • Robinson, James M., Paul Hoffmann, and John S. Kloppenborg. The Critical Edition of Q: A Synopsis Including the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Mark, and Thomas with English, German, and French Translations of Q and Thomas. Hermeneia. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000.

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      The first critical edition produced of this reconstructed document.

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    • Tuckett, Christopher M. Q and the History of Early Christianity: Studies on Q. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996.

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      Ascribes Q to an eschatologically oriented community that had experienced some kind of persecution.

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    Gospel of Thomas

    Present-day reevaluation of the Sayings Source Q was prompted by the discovery of a Coptic copy of the Gospel of Thomas, a collection of 114 sayings of Jesus devoid of any narrative framework, recently reedited by Plisch 2008. The antiquity of the Jesus traditions preserved by the Gospel of Thomas and their independence from the canonical gospels has been defended by Davies 2005 and Patterson 1993 and recently reaffirmed by De Conick 2005. Uro 1998 and Valantasis 1997 offer interesting insights about the nature and orientation of the Gospel of Thomas, while Ásgeirsson, et al. 2006 and Painchaud and Poirier 2007 provide easy access to a wide range of contemporary perspectives.

    • Ásgeirsson, Jón Magnús, April D. De Conick, and Risto Uro, eds. Thomasine Traditions in Antiquity: The Social and Cultural World of the Gospel of Thomas. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 59. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006.

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      Based on a selection of the papers presented to the Thomasine Traditions Group of the Society of Biblical Literature from 1996 to 2001.

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    • Davies, Stevan L. The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom. 2d ed. Oregon House, CA: Bardic Press, 2005.

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      An extremely readable study that tries to locate the Gospel of Thomas on an early Christian wisdom trajectory. First edition published in 1983. A Spanish translation of the first edition is available online.

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    • De Conick, April D. Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas: A History of the Gospel and Its Growth. Library of New Testament Studies 286. London and New York: T&T Clark, 2005.

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      Offers a comprehensive examination of the originally oral, then textual development of the Gospel of Thomas, whose original kernel was characterized, according to De Conick, by an apocalyptic outlook. Also see the companion volume, The Original Gospel of Thomas in Translation: With a Commentary and New English Translation of the Complete Gospel (Library of New Testament Studies 287; London and New York: T&T Clark, 2006).

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    • Painchaud, Louis, and Paul-Hubert Poirier, eds. Colloque international “L’Évangile selon Thomas et les textes de Nag Hammadi” (Québec, 29–31 mai 2003). Bibliothèque Copte de Nag Hammadi, Études 8. Quebec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 2007.

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      A collection of twenty-seven essays (fourteen in French and thirteen in English) on the Gospel of Thomas and related topics.

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    • Patterson, Stephen J. The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus. Foundation and Facets, Reference Series. Sonoma, CA: Polebridge, 1993.

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      Makes a strong case for the independence of the Gospel of Thomas from the synoptic gospels and identifies “Thomas Christianity” as a group of itinerant radicals with actualized eschatology.

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    • Plisch, Uwe-Karsten. The Gospel of Thomas: Original Text with Commentary. Translated by Gesine Schenke Robinson. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2008.

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      This is the most recent and useful edition and commentary of the text, published by the prestigious Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

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    • Uro, Risto, ed. Thomas at the Crossroads: Essays on the Gospel of Thomas. Studies of the New Testament and Its World. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998.

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      A series of essays by Ismo Dunderberg, Antti Marjanen, and Risto Uro, three distinguished Finnish specialists on the Gospel of Thomas and early Christianity.

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    • Valantasis, Richard. The Gospel of Thomas. New Testament Readings. London and New York: Routledge, 1997.

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      Another valuable commentary that stresses the ascetic dimension of the Gospel of Thomas.

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    Criteria for Authenticity

    Chapters devoted to methodological questions can be found in the large majority of the surveys or the major monographs devoted to the study of the historical Jesus. Here we single out Harvey 1982 (a work whose originality was hailed by Ed Parish Sanders), Meier 1991, and the more recent contributions of Porter 2000 and Theissen and Winter 1997.

    • Harvey, Anthony E. Jesus and the Constraints of History. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1982.

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      Against the background of the general skepticism that followed the Second Quest, Harvey argues that Jesus was also subject to the “constraints” imposed by the culture in which he lived, thus anticipating the need to recontextualize Jesus in his own society that is characteristic of the Third Quest.

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    • Meier, John P. A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Vol. 1, The Roots of the Problem and the Person. Anchor Bible Reference Library. New York: Doubleday, 1991.

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      Meier’s series is the most ambitious attempt (four volumes have been published so far and a fifth is in preparation) to examine in a manner as impartial as possible every aspect of the historical research carried out on Jesus. Especially useful for its lengthy reviews of the literature, by one of the leading North American Catholic specialists. The first volume deals at length with all kinds of methodological questions. For advanced students.

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    • Porter, Stanley E. The Criteria for Authenticity in Historical-Jesus Research: Previous Discussion and New Proposals. Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series 191. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000.

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      A critical analysis of the development of a set of criteria of authenticity through the different phases of research on the historical Jesus that ends up with three new criteria based on the presupposition that Jesus spoke Greek.

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    • Theissen, Gerd, and Dagmar Winter. Die Kriterienfrage in der Jesusforschung: Vom Differenzkriterium zum Plausibilitätskriterium. Novum Testamentum et Orbis Antiquus 34. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1997.

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      A plea to replace the Second Quest criterion of “radical dissimilarity” with the new principle of “historical” or “double plausibility”—that is, of context (Jesus and Second Temple Judaism) and consequence (Jesus and Early Christianity). English translation by M. Eugene Boring: The Quest for the Plausible Jesus: The Question of Criteria (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002).

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    John the Baptist

    Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the historical figure of Jesus’ teacher had scarcely attracted any scholarly attention. Since then, John’s baptismal and prophetic activities have constantly been reevaluated in the light of the new evidence provided by comparable practices found in sectarian documents, even if, in the end, specialists agree (see, e.g., Stegemann 1993 or Taylor 1997) that John was neither an Essene nor a former member of the Qumran community. Ernst 1989 is a useful collection of the ancient traditions on John; Rothschild 2005 deals with those that belong to, or could have been a part of, the Saying Source Q; and Kelhoffer 2005 focuses on John’s dietary habits. Kazmierski 1996, Murphy 2003, and Webb 1991 analyze the figure of John through the lens of literary and social scientific approaches.

    • Ernst, Josef. Johannes der Täufer: Interpretation, Geschichte, Wirkungsgeschichte. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 53. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1989.

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      An exhaustive treatment of all the traditions concerning John, from Josephus to the Mandaeans.

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    • Kazmierski, Carl R. John the Baptist: Prophet and Evangelist. Zacchaeus Studies, New Testament. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996.

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      Discusses the various portraits of John found in the canonical gospels and concludes that he was probably a prophet who called Israel to a new vision.

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    • Kelhoffer, James A. The Diet of John the Baptist: “Locusts and Wild Honey” in Synoptic and Patristic Interpretation. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 1 Reihe 176. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2005.

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      A detailed study of the habit of locust- and honey-eating in the ancient Mediterranean world, followed by an equally careful examination of the history of the reception of such a tradition.

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    • Murphy, Catherine M. John the Baptist: Prophet of Purity for a New Age. Interfaces. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2003.

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      A refreshing application of redaction and social-scientific methods to the fifteen “vignettes” on John preserved in the synoptic gospels.

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    • Rothschild, Clare K. Baptist Traditions and Q. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 1 Reihe 190. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2005.

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      Contends that many of the teachings attributed to Jesus in the Sayings Source Q and the canonical gospels had, in fact, been delivered by his teacher John.

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    • Stegemann, Hartmut. Die Essener, Qumran, Johannes der Täufer und Jesus: Ein Sachbuch. Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany: Herder, 1993.

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      In this brilliant introduction to the Qumran community and libraries, two interesting chapters are specifically devoted to John and Jesus. English translation: The Library of Qumran: On the Essenes, Qumran, John the Baptist, and Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans; Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1998).

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    • Taylor, Joan E. The Immerser: John the Baptist within Second Temple Judaism. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997.

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      Perhaps the most comprehensive reconstruction of the Historical John—presented here as a preacher of religious revival—in the context of 1st-century Judaism.

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    • Webb, Robert L. John the Baptizer and Prophet: A Socio-historical Study. Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Supplement Series 62. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1991.

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      Characterizes John as a “leadership popular prophet,” a leader of a prophetic movement who heavily criticized the political and religious authorities of the day.

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    Jesus’ Miracles

    The relevance of Jesus’ miracles has been fully vindicated by the scholars of the Third Quest. The path that Smith 1978 had already shown has been followed, on the one hand, by Craffert 2008 and Davies 1995, and on the other hand, by Meier 1994, Twelftree 1993, and Twelftree 1999, while Becker 2002 and Eve 2002 provide a series of complementary overviews of the Greco-Roman, Jewish, and early Christian background and traditions.

    • Becker, Michael. Wunder und Wundertäter im frührabbinischen Judentum: Studien zum Phänomen und seiner Überlieferung im Horizont von Magie und Dämonismus. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2 Reihe 144. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2002.

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      A comprehensive study of magic, demonology, miracles, and miracle workers (notably, Honi the Circle-Maker and Hanina ben Dosa) in rabbinic traditions, with an epilogue on Jesus’ miracles.

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    • Craffert, Pieter F. The Life of a Galilean Shaman: Jesus of Nazareth in Anthropological-Historical Perspective. Matrix: The Bible in Mediterranean Context 3. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2008.

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      One of the most interesting recent monographs, by a distinguished South African specialist using a stimulating cross-cultural, anthropological model.

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    • Davies, Stevan L. Jesus the Healer: Possession, Trance, and the Origins of Christianity. New York: Continuum, 1995.

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      Davies is convinced that anthropological and ethnographic parallels show that Jesus was more a spirit-possessed “faith-healer” who cured people with psychosomatic disorders than a wisdom teacher.

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    • Eve, Eric. The Jewish Contexts of Jesus’ Miracles. Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Supplement Series 231. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002.

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      A careful review of miracles in Second Temple and Tannaitic literature, to be read in conjunction with Becker 2002.

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    • Meier, John P. A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Vol. 2, Mentor, Message, and Miracles. Anchor Bible Reference Library. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

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      The third part of Meier’s second volume is devoted to Jesus’ miracles.

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    • Smith, Morton. Jesus the Magician. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1978.

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      Important for the reevaluation of the historicity of Jesus’ deeds (in this case, his healings and exorcisms), even if Smith interprets them as proof of Jesus’ magical skills. One should refer to the original hardcover edition (1978) because pictures and endnotes have been omitted in the paperback reprint (1998).

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    • Twelftree, Graham H. Jesus the Exorcist: A Contribution to the Study of the Historical Jesus. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2 Reihe 54. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1993.

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      A more traditional approach to Jesus’ exorcisms that are, in Twelftree’s opinion, “a part of the ministry of the historical Jesus.”

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    • Twelftree, Graham H. Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical and Theological Study. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1999.

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      The logical sequel to Twelftree’s previous work and another fine piece of conservative scholarship.

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    Jesus’ Parables

    Parables are still considered to be the most important source for understanding the original meaning of Jesus’ message. Gowler 2000 is an invaluable introduction to the parabolic teachings of Jesus. Dodd 1961 and Jeremias 1984 are classic studies on Jesus’ parables. Crossan 1992 is an excellent example of the application of literary and linguistic approaches to their study. Kloppenborg 2006 is a magisterial study of a single parable, while Hultgren 2002, Scott 1989, and Snodgrass 2008 are among the best recent commentaries.

    • Crossan, John Dominic. In Parables: The Challenge of the Historical Jesus. 2d ed. Sonoma, CA: Polebridge, 1992.

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      Parables are poetic metaphors that proclaim the advent of a new time, announce the reversal of conventional values, and call for an immediate response. First edition published in 1973.

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    • Dodd, Charles Harold. The Parables of the Kingdom. 2d ed. New York: Scribner, 1961.

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      According to Dodd, Jesus’ parabolic teachings about the kingdom of God do not describe a futurist reality, but something already “realized” in his ministry. First edition published in 1935.

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    • Gowler, David B. What Are They Saying about the Parables? New York and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 2000.

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      Another excellent survey of modern and contemporary scholarship, with a useful annotated bibliography of recent studies.

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    • Hultgren, Arland J. The Parables of Jesus: A Commentary. The Bible in Its World. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.

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      A comprehensive and well-balanced commentary that tries to integrate the various literary, social-scientific, and historical-critical approaches of contemporary research.

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    • Jeremias, Joachim. Die Gleichnisse Jesu, 10th ed. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1984.

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      A classic form-critical attempt to recover the original form of Jesus’ parables. First edition published in 1947. English translation by S. H. Hooke: The Parables of Jesus (3rd ed., London: SCM, 1972; 1st ed., 1955).

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    • Kloppenborg, John S. The Tenants in the Vineyard: Ideology, Economics, and Agrarian Conflict in Jewish Palestine. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 1 Reihe 195. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2006.

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      An in-depth study of the parable of the tenants, whose oldest versions are preserved in the gospels of Thomas and Mark, with an impressive appendix of fifty-eight papyri on “Vineyard Leasing and Operations (III BCE–IV CE)” edited and translated with commentary.

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    • Scott, Bernard B. Hear Then the Parable: A Commentary on the Parables of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989.

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      A detailed commentary in which anthropological, social, and literary insights are used to shed more light on the final form of each parable, its oral prehistory and eventually, its original formulation by Jesus.

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    • Snodgrass, Klyne R. Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008.

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      A more traditional commentary based on the historical-critical approach and written from a conservative point of view.

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    Infancy Narratives

    After a long period of scholarly disdain, the “mythological” narratives of Jesus’ birth are finally beginning to attract the attention of specialists on the historical Jesus. Freed 2004 is a useful introduction, and Brown 1999 is the reference commentary for such stories, while Miller 2003 provides a number of interesting parallels. Different perspectives on the infancy narratives, from an exegetical and a theological point of view, are then offered by Brown, et al. 1978, Borg and Crossan 2007, Brooke 2000, Horsley 2006, and Schaberg 1995.

    • Borg, Marcus J., and John Dominic Crossan. The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach about Jesus’s Birth. New York: HarperOne, 2007.

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      An extremely readable study of the meaning of the infancy narratives in the context of both the 1st and 21st centuries.

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    • Brooke, George J., ed. The Birth of Jesus: Biblical and Theological Reflections. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000.

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      A small collection of essays on Jesus’ birth and the theological meaning of the nativity stories.

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    • Brown, Raymond E. The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke. 2d ed. Anchor Bible Reference Library. New York: Doubleday, 1999.

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      An exhaustive commentary that constitutes a landmark in the study of the infancy narratives in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. First edition published in 1977.

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    • Brown, Raymond E., Karl P. Donfried, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and John Reumann, eds. Mary in the New Testament: A Collaborative Assessment by Protestant and Roman Catholic Scholars. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978.

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      This well-balanced evaluation of the New Testament traditions about Mary grew out of the National (USA) Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue.

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    • Freed, Edwin D. The Stories of Jesus’ Birth: A Critical Introduction. 2d ed. Understanding the Bible and Its World. London and New York: T&T Clark, 2004.

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      A clear and concise introduction, recommended for undergraduate courses. First edition published in 2001.

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    • Horsley, Richard A. The Liberation of Christmas: The Infancy Narratives in Social Context. 2d ed. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2006.

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      According to Horsley, the infancy narratives are popular “legends” celebrating the birth of the founder of a new social order who will liberate the people from Roman-Herodian oppression. First edition published in 1989.

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    • Miller, Robert J. Born Divine: The Births of Jesus and Other Sons of God. Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge, 2003.

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      An excellent sourcebook on the parallels to Jesus’ divine birth that can be found in Greco-Roman and Second Temple Jewish traditions, as well as on its reception in Christian apocryphal literature.

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    • Schaberg, Jane. The Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

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      An alternative reading of the infancy narratives that courageously tries “to break the silence of the ‘silent night.’”

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    Passion Narratives

    Mel Gibson’s controversial film The Passion of the Christ (2004) had, at least, the merit of reopening the debate on the death of Jesus. In this respect, Borg and Crossan 2006, Bovon 2004, and Patterson 2004 try to set the historical and theological record straight. A wealth of useful insights can be found in the exhaustive commentary of Brown 1994, as well as in Hengel 1976 and Sloyan 1995, while the perspectives of Crossan 1995 are more speculative.

    • Borg, Marcus J., and John Dominic Crossan. The Last Week: The Day-by-Day Account of Jesus’s Final Week in Jerusalem. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006.

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      One should add to the subtitle of this sensitive short commentary “According to the Gospel of Mark, 11:1–16:8.”

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    • Bovon, François. Les derniers jours de Jésus: Textes et événements. 2d ed. Essais bibliques 34. Geneva, Switzerland: Labor et Fides, 2004.

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      A rigorous exegetical and historical analysis of the passion stories in the canonical and apocryphal gospels. First edition published in 1973. English translation by Kristin Hennessy: The Last Days of Jesus (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2006).

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    • Brown, Raymond E. The Death of the Messiah, from Gethsemane to the Grave: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives in the Four Gospels. 2 vols. Anchor Bible Reference Library. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

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      As in the case of the infancy narratives, this is the de rigueur reference commentary for the passion stories in the canonical gospels.

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    • Crossan, John Dominic. Who Killed Jesus? Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story of the Death of Jesus. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995.

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      An alternative interpretation of the origin of the passion stories that gives more weight to the testimony of the Gospel of Peter and its hypothetical source, the “Cross Gospel,” which, in Crossan’s opinion, would have been the first written passion gospel.

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    • Hengel, Martin. “Mors turpissima crucis: Die Kreuzigung in der antiken Welt und die ‘Torheit’ des Wortes vom Kreuz.” In Rechtfertigung: Festschrif für Ernst Käsemann zum 70. Geburtstag. Edited by Friedrich, Johannes , Wolfgang Pöhlmann and Peter Stuhlmacher, 125–184. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1976.

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      One of the best historical studies of the crucifixion ever written. English translation by John Bowden: Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross (London: SCM, 1977).

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    • Patterson, Stephen J. Beyond the Passion: Rethinking the Death and Life of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004.

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      A stimulating historical and theological reflection on the meaning of the death of Jesus as a Jewish victim and martyr.

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    • Sloyan, Gerard S. The Crucifixion of Jesus: History, Myth, Faith. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995.

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      A more traditional understanding of Jesus’ passion and its sacrificial and redemptive meaning, followed by a useful overview of the historical development of such an interpretation in Christian theology and popular piety.

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    Easter Faith

    Concerning the origins of Easter faith, many specialists still seem to agree with Paul that “if Christ has not risen, then our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Nonetheless, between the hypercriticism of Lüdemann 2004 and the neoconservatism of Wright 2003 there is a large spectrum of possibilities that go from the new, alternative perspectives of Crossan 1998 and Sawicki 1994, new, alternative perspectives, to the more traditional approaches of Davis, et al. 1998. Useful suggestions for a more constructive dialogue can be found in Stewart 2006, while Bieringer, et al. 2002 and Koester and Bieringer 2008 go wisely back to the original texts.

    • Bieringer, Reimund, Veronica Koperski, and Bianca Lataire, eds. Resurrection in the New Testament: Festschrift J. Lambrecht. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 165. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 2002.

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      This volume celebrating the seventy-fifth birthday of the distinguished Belgian exegete Jan Lambrecht contains twenty-seven essays dealing with various aspects of the theme of the resurrection in the New Testament.

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    • Crossan, John Dominic. The Birth of Christianity: Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately after the Execution of Jesus. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998.

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      Building on the finds of Sawicki 1994, tries to reconstruct the origins and subsequent development of the earliest resurrection stories originally told and reinterpreted by the members of the Jerusalem community.

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    • Davis, Stephen J., Daniel Kendall, and Gerald O’Collins, eds. The Resurrection: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Resurrection of Jesus. Papers presented at the “Resurrection Summit” New York, 1996. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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      The proceedings of the “Resurrection Summit” held in New York in 1996, devoted to the exegetical and theological aspects of the resurrection, mainly from a traditional point of view.

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    • Koester, Craig R., and Reimund Bieringer, eds. The Resurrection of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 1 Reihe 222. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2008.

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      Thirteen essays that explore the meaning and relevance of Jesus’ resurrection in the Gospel of John.

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    • Lüdemann, Gerd. The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2004.

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      An uncompromising study by one of the most vocal heirs of the so-called Tübingen School of biblical criticism.

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    • Sawicki, Marianne. Seeing the Lord: Resurrection and Early Christian Practices. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994.

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      According to Sawicki, the earliest passion stories that nourished the Easter faith possibly developed out of the funerary laments on the death of Jesus performed by women belonging to the Hellenized elites of the city of Jerusalem.

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    • Stewart, Robert B., ed. The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright in Dialogue. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2006.

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      A collection of nine essays on different aspects of Crossan’s and Wright’s research on the resurrection narratives and belief.

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    • Wright, Nicholas Thomas. Christian Origins and the Question of God. Vol. 3, The Resurrection of the Son of God. London: SPCK, 2003.

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      A powerful case for an understanding of early Christian Easter faith as primarily based on the belief of Jesus’ bodily resurrection.

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    Jesus’ Followers

    Chapters on Jesus’ followers can be found in major monographs devoted to the historical Jesus. In what follows the main focus will be on the three leading figures of Peter (and the Twelve), Mary Magdalene, and Judas, whose historical personalities are, for different reasons, still provoking passionate debates among specialists. Even so, the works of Brock 2003, Ehrman 2006, and Meier 2001, on the one hand, and Corley 2002, Kraemer and D’Angelo 1999, and Schüssler Fiorenza 1994, on the other hand, encompass more than the figure of a single disciple.

    Peter and the Twelve

    Contemporary scholars seem to be much less interested in the figure of Peter, the “Rock” upon which, according to Matthew 16:18, Jesus will build his ekklesia. Meier 2001 is a comprehensive study of Jesus’ social relations, including Peter and the Twelve. Ehrman 2006 and Perkins 2000 are easily accessible introductions to Peter as a historical and legendary character, while Brown, et al. 1973, Lapham 2003, and Wiarda 2000 deal with more specialized aspects of the primary sources ascribed to him, or about him.

    • Brown, Raymond E., Karl P. Donfried, and John Reumann, eds. Peter in the New Testament: A Collaborative Assessment by Protestant and Roman Catholic Scholars. New York: Paulist, 1973.

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      A “thorough reassessment of the role of Peter in the New Testament according to modern critical scholarship.”

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    • Ehrman, Bart D. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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      A popular introduction to three of the most emblematic followers of Jesus, beginning with Peter.

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    • Lapham, Fred. Peter: The Man, the Myth and the Writings. Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Supplement Series 239. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003.

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      A critical overview of the Petrine apocryphal texts, from the Gospel of Peter to the Coptic Apocalypse of Peter (NHC 7,3).

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    • Meier, John P. A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Vol. 3, Companions and Competitors. Anchor Bible Reference Library. New York: Doubleday, 2001.

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      The first part of Meier’s third volume is devoted to Jesus’ Jewish followers (the crowds, the disciples, and the Twelve), while the second part deals with his competitors (the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, the Samaritans, and other groups).

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    • Perkins, Pheme. Peter: Apostle for the Whole Church. 2d ed. Personalities of the New Testament. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000.

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      A sensitive study of the figure of “an ecclesial centrist” based on the evidence found in the New Testament and other early Christian writings. First edition published in 1994.

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    • Wiarda, Timothy. Peter in the Gospels: Pattern, Personality and Relationship. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2 Reihe 127. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2000.

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      A new and sophisticated approach to the nature of the teacher-disciple relationship between Jesus and Peter as depicted in the canonical gospels. For advanced students.

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    Mary Magdalene

    The figure of Mary has become widely popular thanks not only to the efforts of a small group of courageous feminist scholars, but also to the polemics that have surrounded movies and novels such as Norman Jewison’s Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (2003). Methodological insights on the study of early Christian women are offered by Corley 2002, Kraemer and D’Angelo 1999, and Schüssler Fiorenza 1994. Brock 2003 and De Boer 2004 examine some among the most important primary sources on Mary. Chilton 2005, Ricci 1995, and Schaberg 2002 try to reconstruct the historical Mary.

    • Brock, Ann G. Mary Magdalene, the First Apostle: The Struggle for Authority. Harvard Theological Studies 51. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.

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      A comprehensive study of the competition for authority between the characters of Mary and Peter in canonical and apocryphal literature.

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    • Chilton, Bruce. Mary Magdalene: A Biography. New York: Doubleday, 2005.

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      An extremely well-written biographical study, for general audiences.

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    • Corley, Kathleen E. Women and the Historical Jesus: Feminist Myths of Christian Origins. Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge, 2002.

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      A well-documented criticism of some feminist oversimplifications of Second Temple Judaism as a particularly oppressive patriarchal society.

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    • De Boer, Esther A. The Gospel of Mary: Beyond a Gnostic and a Biblical Mary Magdalene. Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Supplement Series 260. London and New York: T&T Clark, 2004.

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      Argues that the picture of Mary found in the fragmentary Gospel of Mary is based on the same ancient traditions that were independently recycled in the canonical gospels. In De Boer’s opinion, the ideas expressed in the Gospel of Mary are closer to Stoic philosophy than to Gnostic theology.

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    • Kraemer, Ross S., and Mary Rose D’Angelo, eds. Women and Christian Origins. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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      A useful collection of essays on early Christian women, including a methodologically stimulating article by Mary Rose D’Angelo on “Reconstructing ‘Real’ Women from Gospel Literature: The Case of Mary Magdalene.”

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    • Ricci, Carla. Maria di Magdala e le molte altre. Donne sul cammino di Gesù. 2d ed. La Dracma. Naples, Italy: D’Auria, 1995.

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      An interesting attempt to give, on the basis of Luke 8:1–3, a psychoanalytical explanation for the special bond between Jesus and Mary. First edition published in 1991. English translation by Paul Burns: Mary Magdalene and Many Others: Women Who Followed Jesus (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994).

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    • Schaberg, Jane. The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene: Legends, Apocrypha, and the Christian Testament. New York and London: Continuum, 2002.

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      A passionate and powerful study of Mary as a visionary mystic and religious leader, the disciple whom Jesus chose to be his successor as the head of the movement.

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    • Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth. In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins. 10th anniversary ed. New York: Crossroad, 1994.

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      The truly groundbreaking monograph that laid the foundation for a feminist reconstruction of the role of women in the Jesus movement. First edition published in 1983.

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    Judas

    The rediscovery, restoration, and publication, in 2006–2007, of the Gospel of Judas (for two contrasting interpretations of this Gnostic apocryphal text, see De Conick 2009 and Meyer 2007) have stirred up the discussion about the historical role of the wayward disciple. Klassen 2005 and Klauck 1987 are mainly devoted to the ancient texts, while Dauzat 2006 and Paffenroth 2001 also cover medieval and modern material.

    Jesus in Popular Culture

    The considerable impact of a recent blockbuster as controversial as Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004) (on which see, e.g., Corley and Webb 2004) should remind us of the importance of films and other visual productions in the reshaping of contemporary collective perceptions of Jesus. Staley and Walsh 2007 and Tatum 2004 are accessible guides to the most popular Jesus movies, while Baugh 1997, Reinhartz 2007, and Walsh 2003 approach them from various perspectives. Finally, Fox 2004 and Prothero 2003 analyze the reasons for the omnipresence of Jesus in North American popular culture.

    • Baugh, Lloyd. Imaging the Divine: Jesus and Christ-Figures in Film. Kansas City, MO: Sheed and Ward, 1997.

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      The first part is devoted to nine classic films about Jesus’ life, from Nicholas Ray’s King of Kings (1961) to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel According to Saint Matthew (1964), while the second part deals with Christ-like figures, even feminine ones, on the silver screen.

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    • Corley, Kathleen E., and Robert L. Webb, eds. Jesus and Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ: The Film, the Gospels, and the Claims of History. London and New York: Continuum, 2004.

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      An instructive series of contributions by scholars of different sensibilities on Mel Gibson’s highly controversial movie.

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    • Fox, Richard W. Jesus in America: Personal Savior, Cultural Hero, National Obsession. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004.

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      A fascinating cultural history of the multifaceted roles that Jesus has played and still plays in North American intellectual circles and popular milieus.

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    • Prothero, Stephen. American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003.

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      A complementary volume to Fox 2004 on “the man nobody hates” in North American religiosity and culture. Both of them are highly suitable as textbooks for undergraduate courses.

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    • Reinhartz, Adele. Jesus of Hollywood. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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      A critical examination of the way in which the main characters in the story of Jesus—Jesus himself, Mary, Joseph, God, Mary Magdalene, Judas, Satan, the Pharisees, Caiaphas, and Pilate—have been treated in biographical films about Jesus.

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    • Staley, Jeffrey L., and Richard Walsh. Jesus, the Gospels, and Cinematic Imagination: A Handbook to Jesus on DVD. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2007.

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      Provides summaries and information about eighteen classic Jesus movies, from Ferdinand Zecca and Lucien Nonquet’s The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ (1905) to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004).

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    • Tatum, W. Barnes. Jesus at the Movies: A Guide to the First Hundred Years. 2d ed. Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge, 2004.

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      A detailed analysis of fourteen of the most significant Jesus-story films, from Sidney Olcott’s From the Manger to the Cross (1912) to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004). First edition published in 1997.

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    • Walsh, Richard. Reading the Gospels in the Dark: Portrayals of Jesus in Film. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 2003.

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      Insightfully pairs five Jesus movies with six different gospel texts: Denys Arcand’s Jesus of Montreal (1989) with Mark; David Greene’s Godspell (1973) with the Sayings Source Q and the Gospel of Thomas; Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel According to Saint Matthew (1964) with Matthew; Nicholas Ray’s King of Kings (1961) with Luke; George Stevens’s The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) with John.

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    LAST MODIFIED: 09/13/2010

    DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195393361-0062

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