Recent Research on the Historical Jesus
By describing the current situation of historical Jesus research as evidenced by Meier and Dunn, Simpson maps out some promising lines of future research.
Over the past two hundred years, several have ventured to write a history of Jesus, but few have discussed their method of writing about the past with any depth. Unspoken assumptions or bias often dictate what the historian will find. The fact that there are so many conflicting pictures of Jesus compounds the problem. In the last thirty years of Jesus research, which have been identified as the Third Quest for the historical Jesus, historians have agreed that Jesus makes the most sense within a Jewish context, a setting that allows historians to write about Jesus from various historical approaches.
Simpson addresses the issue of method in historical Jesus research by looking at two prominent historians within the Third Quest —John Meier and James Dunn. Both Meier and Dunn typify distinct approaches to the historical Jesus, and both claim to be a part of the Third Quest. Simpson analyses their philosophy of history and historical method. In the second part of the book, Simpson looks at how Meier and Dunn handle certain key events in the life of Jesus. The treatment of these events serves as a way of highlighting the drawbacks and advantages of each method.
These distinct approaches point to the tensions that make up the Third Quest and illustrate how the concerns of recent research, evolving over a short period of time, have brought old questions to the surface in new ways. By describing the current situation of historical Jesus research as evidenced by Meier and Dunn, Simpson maps out some promising lines of future research.
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1. Introduction The Development of the Quest for the Historical Jesus Postmodernism and Third Quest Historiography 2. Third Quest Historiography and Historical Method John P. Meier: Objectivity and the Historical Jesus James D.G. Dunn: History, Hermeneutics, and Faith Historical Method 3. The Baptism of Jesus Jesus’ Baptism Meier: Historical Baptism with Limited Meaning Dunn: Early Formulation of the Baptism Event The Implications for John’s Baptism 4. The Declaration at Caesarea Philippi The Confession at Caesarea Philippi Meier: A Profession of Peter Dunn: A Messianic Confession Reframed The Significance of Peter’s Confession 5. Jesus’ Trial before the High Priest The Jewish Examination Meier: The Interrogation through Christian Redaction Dunn: The Son of Man Vindicated Significance of the Jewish Examination 6. Conclusion Summary Future Lines of Study
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