Much has been written in the last decades about the quest for the historical Jesus. Some argue that the Jesus of history is very different from the Jesus we worship today – the Jesus reconstructed by the early church.
Bock argues that you can abide by historical Jesus study rules and still move toward a better historical understanding of Jesus that also explains the faith of his earliest followers. There is not a chasm between the historical Jesus and the Jesus we worship today.
This book grows out of a ten year study where an international group of Jesus scholars met for one weekend each summer, taking a close look at twelve core events in the life of Jesus. These scholars argue that a person can play by many of the historical rules and still appreciate that the gist of these events has been rendered in our earliest sources. Who is Jesus? is a treatment of the technical study that can be appreciated by non-scholars.
Bock takes us through the rules of historical Jesus study and then states the key rules used in this study. He then takes us through twelve events of Jesus' life with the following structure: considering the rules to see if they open the door for seeing the event as authentic, examining the objections, and considering how the relevant background opens up the event and what it means for understanding Jesus.
The events examined include John the Baptist and his baptism of Jesus, the choosing of the twelve, Jesus' association with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus and the Sabbath, Jesus and exorcism, Peter's declaration at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus' atriumphal entry, Jesus' temple act, the Last Supper, the examination by Jewish leadership, the examination by Pilate and crucifixion, and the women discovering the empty tomb.
After applying the rules of historical Jesus study to the twelve events, Bock concludes, “They affirm to us that the Jesus of history links to and discloses the Christ of faith.”
If you have been discouraged because of the attention recent studies about Jesus have received, you will be encouraged by this book. It will help you be more assured that the Jesus from the Bible is truly the Jesus of history.
Howard Publishing, 256 pages.
Watch a video about the book here.
Darrell Bock is a New Testament scholar and research professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. You can follow his blog here.
I received an egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.