Portraits of the historical Jesus
Portraits of the historical Jesus refers to the various biographies of Jesus that have been constructed in the three separate scholarly quests for the historical Jesus that have taken place in the past two centuries, each with distinct characteristics and developing new and different research criteria. The portraits of Jesus that have been constructed in these processes have often differed from each other, and from the dogmatic image portrayed in the gospel accounts.
These portraits include that of Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet, charismatic healer, Cynic philosopher, Jewish Messiah and prophet of social change, but there is little scholarly agreement on a single portrait, or the methods needed to construct it. There are, however, overlapping attributes among the various portraits, and scholars who differ on some attributes may agree on others.
Most contemporary scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, and most biblical scholars and classical historians see the theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted. We have no indication that writers in antiquity who opposed Christianity questioned the existence of Jesus. There is, however, widespread disagreement among scholars on the details of the life of Jesus mentioned in the gospel narratives, and on the meaning of his teachings. Scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts of Jesus, and historians tend to look upon supernatural or miraculous claims about Jesus as questions of faith, rather than historical fact.
There is no physical or archeological evidence for Jesus, and all the sources we have are documentary. The sources for the historical Jesus are mainly Christian writings, such as the gospels and the purported letters of the apostles and also Islamic texts such as the Qur'an and Hadith where he was referred to as Isah, the son of Mary. Many scholars agree that Jesus is Isah although Jesus and Isah sometimes differ in actions and sayings. The authenticity and reliability of these sources has been questioned by many scholars, and few events mentioned in the gospels are universally accepted.
In conjunction with Biblical sources, three mentions of Jesus in non-Christian sources have been used in the historical analyses of the existence of Jesus. These are two passages in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, and one from the Roman historian Tacitus. Although the authenticity of all three passages has been disputed to varying degrees, most biblical scholars believe that all three are at least partially authentic.
The historical analysis techniques used by Biblical scholars have been questioned, and according to James Dunn it is not possible "to construct (from the available data) a Jesus who will be the real Jesus." W.R. Herzog has stated that "What we call the historical Jesus is the composite of the recoverable bits and pieces of historical information and speculation about him that we assemble, construct, and reconstruct. For this reason, the historical Jesus is, in Meier's words, 'a modern abstraction and construct.'"
The Christ myth theory, namely the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth never existed, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels, has very little scholarly support.
Nonetheless, despite divergent scholarly opinions on the construction of portraits of the historical Jesus, almost all modern scholars consider his baptism and crucifixion to be historical facts.
Other possibly historical elementsEdit
In addition to the two elements of baptism and crucifixion, scholars attribute varying levels of certainty to six other aspects of the life of Jesus, although there is no universal agreement among scholars on these items:
- Jesus called disciples: John P. Meier sees the calling of disciples a natural consequence of the information available about Jesus. N. T. Wright accepts that there were twelve disciples, but holds that the list of their names cannot be determined with certainty. John Dominic Crossan disagrees, stating that Jesus did not call disciples and had an "open to all" egalitarian approach, imposed no hierarchy and preached to all in equal terms.
- Jesus caused a controversy at the Temple.
- Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was born between 7 and 2 BC and died 30–36 AD.
- Jesus lived only in Galilee and Judea: Most scholars reject that there is any evidence that an adult Jesus traveled or studied outside Galilee and Judea. The Talmud refers to "Jesus the Nazarene" several times and scholars such as Andreas Kostenberger and Robert Van Voorst hold that some of these references are to Jesus. Nazareth is not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian gospels portray it as an insignificant village, John 1:46 asking "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Craig S. Keener states that it is rarely disputed that Jesus was from Nazareth, an obscure small village not worthy of invention. Gerd Theissen concurs with that conclusion. The Qur'an mentions "Jesus son of Mary" fourteen times, and depicts him as a distinguished prophet, though not the "Son of God", nor does it refer to Nazareth.
- Jesus spoke Aramaic and that he may have also spoken Hebrew and Greek. The languages spoken in Galilee and Judea during the 1st century include the Semitic Aramaic and Hebrew languages as well as Greek, with Aramaic being the predominant language. Most scholars agree that during the early part of the 1st century, Aramaic was the mother tongue of virtually all women in Galilee and Judea.
- After his death his disciples continued, and some of his disciples were persecuted.
The baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist places him in the Baptist's era, whose chronology can be determined from Josephus' reference (Antiquities 18.5.2) to the marriage of Herod Antipas and Herodias and the subsequent defeat of Herod by Aretas IV of Nabatea in AD 36. Most scholars date the marriage of Herod and Herodias, which Josephus relates to the execution of the Baptist by Herod, as AD 28-35, indicating a date somewhat earlier than that for the baptism of Jesus by John.
A number of approaches have been used to estimate the date of the crucifixion of Jesus. One approach relies on the dates of the prefecture of Pontius Pilate who was governor of Roman Judea from 26 AD until 36 AD, after which he was replaced by Marcellus, 36-37 AD. Another approach which provides an upper bound for the year of death of Jesus is working backwards from the chronology of Apostle Paul, which can be historically pegged to his trial in Corinth by Roman proconsul Gallio, the date of whose reign is confirmed in the Delphi Inscription discovered in the 20th century at the Temple of Apollo.  Two independent astronomical methods (one going back to Isaac Newton) have also been used, suggesting the same year, i.e. 33 AD. Scholars generally agree that Jesus died between 30-36 AD.
Following the successful Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucids, there was a growth of an apocalyptic view that the world was either in or approaching the End Times, when a messiah would restore the Kingdom of David.
In the time of Jesus' adulthood Judea was under Roman imperial rule. Roman prefects were appointed to the territory to maintain order and collect taxes, and to control Jerusalem through a political appointee, the High Priest. The imposition of a Roman system of taxation, and conflict between the Jews' demand for religious independence and Rome's efforts to impose a common system of governance meant there was continuous underlying tension in the area.
In the Judaic religion of Jesus' day (Second Temple Judaism), the Pharisees and the Sadducees were the two significant and opposing power groups. The Sadducees were generally high ranking priests with wealth and nobility who often favored the upper classes and had a strict interpretation of the Torah. The Pharisees (who used a more flexible interpretation of the Torah) were formed as a "separatist" movement and had a somewhat more democratic approach which favored the common people. The Sadducees had significant power based on their close association with the Jerusalem Temple and by virtue of the seats they held in the Sanhedrin, which was the governing council for the Jews.
The 21st century has witnessed an increase in scholarly interest in the integrated use of archaeology as an additional research component in arriving at a better understanding of the historical Jesus by illuminating the socio-economic and political background of his age. James Charlesworth states that few modern scholars now want to overlook the archaeological discoveries that clarify the nature of life in Galilee and Judea during the time of Jesus.
Jonathan Reed states that chief contribution of archaeology to the study of the historical Jesus is the reconstruction of his social world. An example archaeological item that Reed mentions is the 1961 discovery of the Pilate Stone, which mentions the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, by whose order Jesus was crucified.
David Gowler states that an interdisciplinary scholarly study of archeology, textual analysis and historical context can shed light on Jesus and his teachings. An example is the archeological studies at Capernaum. Despite the frequent references to Capernaum in the New Testament, little is said about it there. However, recent archeological evidence show that unlike earlier assumptions, Capernaum was poor and small, without even a forum or agora. This archaeological discovery thus resonates well with the scholarly view that Jesus advocated reciprocal sharing among the destitute in that area of Galilee. Other archeological findings support the wealth of the ruling priests in Judea at the beginning of the 1st century.
Language, race and appearanceEdit
Per the Bible, Jesus grew up in Galilee and much of his ministry took place there. The language spoken in Galilee and Judea during the 1st century amongst the common people was most frequently the Semitic Aramaic tongue, and most scholars support the theory that Jesus spoke Aramaic, although he may have also spoken Hebrew and perhaps had some fluency in Greek. James D. G. Dunn states that there is "substantial consensus" that Jesus gave his teachings in Aramaic. The Galilean dialect of Aramaic was clearly distinguishable from the Judean dialect.
Despite the lack of direct biblical or historical references, various theories about the race of Jesus have been advanced and debated. These claims have been mostly subjective, based on cultural stereotypes and societal trends rather than on scientific analysis. In a review of the state of modern scholarship, Amy-Jill Levine stated: "Beyond recognizing that 'Jesus was Jewish' rarely does scholarship address what being 'Jewish' means."
Jesus is identified as the son of a τέκτων (tekton) and in a crowd surmises that Jesus was a tekton himself. Tekton has been traditionally translated into English as "carpenter", but is a rather general word (from the same root that gives us "technical" and "technology") that could cover makers of objects in various materials, including builders. But the specific association with woodworking was a constant in Early Christian writings; Justin Martyr (died c. 165) wrote that Jesus made yokes and ploughs, and there are similar early references.
Other scholars have argued that tekton could equally mean a highly skilled craftsman in wood or the more prestigious metal, perhaps running a workshop with several employees, and noted sources recording the shortage of skilled artisans at the time. Geza Vermes has stated that the terms 'carpenter' and 'son of a carpenter' are used in the Jewish Talmud to signify a very learned man, and he suggests that a description of Joseph as 'naggar' (a carpenter) could indicate that he was considered wise and highly literate in the Torah.
Debate exists about the existence of Nazareth at the time of Joseph and Jesus, as it was not mentioned in any contemporary source. At best it was an obscure village in Galilee, about 65 km from the Holy City of Jerusalem, which is only later mentioned in surviving non-Christian texts and documents. Archaeology over most of the site is made very difficult by subsequent building, but from what has been excavated and tombs in the area around the village, it is estimated that the population was at most about 400. It was, however, only about six kilometres from the city of Tzippori (ancient "Sepphoris"), which was destroyed by the Romans in 4 BCE, and thereafter was expensively rebuilt. Jonathan L. Reed states that the analysis of the landscape and other evidence suggest that in that Jesus and Joseph's lifetime Nazareth was "oriented towards" the nearby city.
There are strong indications of a high illiteracy rate among the lower socio-economic classes in the Roman Empire at large, with various scholars estimating 3% to 10% literacy rates. However, the Babylonian Talmud (which dates from the 3rd to 5th centuries) states that the Jews had schools in nearly every one of their towns.
Geoffrey Bromiley states that as a "religion of the book" Judaism emphasized reading and study, and people would read to themselves in a loud voice, rather than silently, a practice encouraged (Erubin 54a) by the Rabbis. James D. G. Dunn states that Second Temple Judaism placed a great deal of emphasis on the study of Torah, and the "writing prophets" of Judaism assumed that sections of the public could read. Dunn and separately Donahue and Harrington refer to the statement by 1st-century historian Josephus in Against Apion (2.204) that the "law requires that they (children) be taught to read" as an indication of high literacy rate among some 1st-century Jews. Richard A. Horsley, on the other hand, states that the Josephus reference to learn "grammata" may not necessarily refer to reading and may be about an oral tradition.
There are a number of passages from the Gospels which state or imply that Jesus could read. The Jesus Seminar stated that references in the Gospels to Jesus reading and writing may be fictions. John Dominic Crossan who views Jesus as a peasant states that he would not have been literate. Craig A. Evans states that it should not be assumed that Jesus was a peasant, and that his extended travels may indicate some measure of financial means. Evans states that existing data indicate that Jesus could read scripture, paraphrase and debate it, but that does not imply that he received formal scribal training, given the divergence of his views from the existing religious background of his time. James Dunn states that it is "quite credible" that Jesus could read. John P. Meier further concludes that the literacy of Jesus probably extended to the ability to read and comment on sophisticated theological and literary works.
Portraits of the Third QuestEdit
Scholars involved in the third quest for the historical Jesus have constructed a variety of portraits and profiles for Jesus. However, there is little scholarly agreement on the portraits, or the methods used in constructing them.
Despite the significant differences among scholars on what constitutes a suitable portrait for Jesus, the mainstream views supported by a number of scholars may be grouped together based on certain distinct, primary themes. These portraits often include overlapping elements, and there are also differences among the followers of each portrait. The subsections below present the main portraits that are supported by multiple mainstream scholars.
The apocalyptic prophet view primarily emphasizes Jesus preparing his fellow Jews for the End times. The works of E.P. Sanders and Maurice Casey place Jesus within the context of Jewish eschatological tradition. Bart Ehrman aligns himself with the century old view of Albert Schweitzer that Jesus expected an apocalypse during his own generation, and he bases some of his views on the argument that the earliest gospel sources (for which he assumes Markan priority) present Jesus as far more apocalyptic than other Christian sources produced towards the end of the 1st century, contending that the apocalyptic messages were progressively toned down. Dale Allison does not see Jesus as advocating specific timetables for the End Times, but sees him as preaching his own doctrine of "apocalyptic eschatology" derived from post-exilitic Jewish teachings, sees the apocalyptic teachings of Jesus as a form of asceticism.
The charismatic healer portrait positions Jesus as a pious and holy man in the view of Geza Vermes, whose profile draws on the Talmudic representations of Jewish figures such as Hanina ben Dosa and Honi the Circle Drawer and presents Jesus as a Hasid. Marcus Borg views Jesus as a charismatic "man of the spirit", a mystic or visionary who acts as a conduit for the "Spirit of God". Borg sees this as a well-defined religious personality type, whose actions often involve healing. Borg sees Jesus as a non-eschatological figure who did not intend to start a new religion, but his message set him at odds with the Jewish powers of his time based on the "politics of holiness".
In the Cynic philosopher profile, Jesus is presented as a Cynic, a traveling sage and philosopher preaching a cynical and radical message of change to abolish the existing hierarchical structure of the society of his time. In John Dominic Crossan’s view Jesus was crucified not for religious reasons but because his social teachings challenged the seat of power held by the Jewish authorities. Burton Mack also holds that Jesus was a Cynic whose teachings were so different from those of his time that shocked the audience and forced them to think, but Mack views his death as accidental and not due to his challenge to Jewish authority.
The Jewish Messiah portrait of N. T. Wright places Jesus within the Jewish context of "exile and return", a notion he uses to build on his view of the 1st-century concept of hope. Wright believes that Jesus was the Messiah and argues that the Resurrection of Jesus was a physical and historical event. Wright's portrait of Jesus is closer to the traditional Christian views than many other scholars, and when he departs from the Christian tradition, his views are still close to them. Like Wright, Markus Bockmuehl and Peter Stuhlmacher support the view that Jesus came to announce the end of the Jewish spiritual exile and usher in a new messianic era in which God would improve this world through the faith of his people.
The prophet of social change portrait positions Jesus primarily as someone who challenged the traditional social structures of his time. Gerd Theissen sees three main elements to the activities of Jesus as he affected social change, his positioning as the Son of man, the core group of disciples that followed him, and his localized supporters as he journeyed through Galillee and Judea. Richard A. Horsely goes further and presents Jesus as a more radical reformer who initiated a grassroots movement. David Kaylor’s ideas are close to those of Horsely, but have a more religious focus and base the actions of Jesus on covenant theology and his desire for justice. Elisabeth Fiorenza has presented a feminist perspective which sees Jesus as a social reformer whose actions such as the acceptance of women followers resulted in the liberation of some women of his time. For S. G. F. Brandon Jesus was a political revolutionary who challenged the existing socio-political structures of his time.
Other portraits have been presented by individual scholars:
- Ben Witherington supports the "Wisdom Sage" view, and states that Jesus is best understood as a teacher of wisdom who saw himself as the embodiment or incarnation of God's Wisdom.
- Bruce Chilton sees Jesus as a Galilean Rabbi.
- John P. Meier's portrait of Jesus as the Marginal Jew is built on the view that Jesus knowingly marginalized himself in a number of ways, first by abandoning his profession as a carpenter and becoming a preacher with no means of support, then arguing against the teachings and traditions of the time while he had no formal rabbinic training.
- Robert Eisenman proposed that James the Just was the Teacher of Righteousness mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and that the image of Jesus of the gospels was constructed by the Apostle Paul as pro-Roman propaganda.
- Alvar Ellegård proposes that while the early Pauline communities did grow from Essene communities revering a historical founder, the Essene Teacher of Righteousness, Paul had very little historical knowledge of the Teacher, while the description of Jesus in the gospels is entirely fictional.
- Hyam Maccoby proposed that Jesus was a Pharisee, that the positions ascribed to the Pharisees in the Gospels are very different from what we know of them, and in fact their opinions were very similar to those ascribed to Jesus. Harvey Falk also sees Jesus as proto-Pharisee or Essene.
- Morton Smith views Jesus as a magician, a view based on the presentation of Jesus in later Jewish sources.
- Leo Tolstoy saw Jesus as championing Christian anarchism (although Tolstoy never actually used the term "Christian anarchism"; reviews of his book following its publication in 1894 coined the term.)
- It has been suggested by psychiatrists George de Loosten, William Hirsch, William Sargant, psychologist Charles Binet-Sanglé and others that Jesus had a mental disorder or psychiatric condition. This was supported inter alia by the Church of England, based on the fact that the Gospel of Mark (Mk 3,21) reports that When his friends heard it, they went out to seize him: for they said, "He is insane."  Psychologist Władysław Witwicki states that Jesus had difficulties communicating with the outside world and suffered from multiple personality disorder, which made him a schizothymic or even schizophrenic type. In 1998–2000 Pole Leszek Nowak from Poznań authored a study in which, based on his own history of delusions of mission and overvalued ideas, and information communicated in the Gospels, made an attempt at reconstructing Jesus’ psyche with the view of the apocalyptic prophet.
Methods of researchEdit
Since the 18th century, scholars have taken part in three separate "quests" for the historical Jesus, attempting to reconstruct various portraits of his life using historical methods. While textual criticism (or lower criticism) had been practiced for centuries, a number of approaches to historical analysis and a number of criteria for evaluating the historicity of events emerged as of the 18th century, as a series of "Quests for the historical Jesus" took place. At each stage of development, scholars suggested specific forms and methodologies of analysis and specific criteria to be used to determine historical validity.
Criticism of research methodsEdit
A number of scholars have criticized Historical Jesus research for religious bias and lack of methodological soundness, and some have argued that modern biblical scholarship is insufficiently critical and sometimes amounts to covert apologetics.
John Meier, a Catholic priest and a professor of theology at University of Notre Dame, has stated "... I think a lot of the confusion comes from the fact that people claim they are doing a quest for the historical Jesus when de facto they’re doing theology, albeit a theology that is indeed historically informed ..." Meier also wrote that in the past the quest for the historical Jesus has often been motivated more by a desire to produce an alternate Christology than a true historical search.
Bart Ehrman and separately Andreas Köstenberger contend that given the scarcity of historical sources, it is generally difficult for any scholar to construct a portrait of Jesus that can be considered historically valid beyond the basic elements of his life. On the other hand, scholars such as N. T. Wright and Luke Timothy Johnson argue that the image of Jesus presented in the gospels is largely accurate, and that dissenting scholars are simply too cautious about what we can claim to know about the ancient period.
- Historicity of the Bible
- Biblical archaeology
- Biblical manuscript
- Census of Quirinius, the enrollment of the Roman provinces of Syria and Judaea for tax purposes taken in the year 6/7.
- Christ myth theory
- Criterion of dissimilarity
- Historical background of the New Testament
- Historical reliability of the Gospels
- Historicity of Jesus
- Jesus Seminar
- Quest for the historical Jesus
- Sources for the historicity of Jesus
- The Quest for the Plausible Jesus: The Question of Criteria by Gerd Theissen and Dagmar Winter (Aug 30, 2002) ISBN 0664225373 page 5
- Jesus Research: An International Perspective (Princeton-Prague Symposia Series on the Historical Jesus) by James H. Charlesworth and Petr Pokorny (Sep 15, 2009) ISBN 0802863531 pages 1-2
- The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth by Ben Witherington (May 8, 1997) ISBN 0830815449 pages 9-13
- Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell (1 Jan 1999) ISBN 0664257038 pages 19-23
- The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum 2009 ISBN 978-0-8054-4365-3 pages 124-125
- The Cambridge History of Christianity, Volume 1 by Margaret M. Mitchell and Frances M. Young (Feb 20, 2006) ISBN 0521812399 page 23
- Images of Christ (Academic Paperback) by Stanley E. Porter, Michael A. Hayes and David Tombs (Dec 19, 2004) ISBN 0567044602 T&T Clark page 74
- Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth by Michael James McClymond (Mar 22, 2004) ISBN 0802826806 pages 16-22
- John P. Meier "Criteria: How do we decide what comes from Jesus?" in The Historical Jesus in Recent Research by James D. G. Dunn and Scot McKnight (Jul 15, 2006) ISBN 1575061007 page 124 "Since in the quest for the historical Jesus almost anything is possible, the function of the criteria is to pass from the merely possible to the really probable, to inspect various probabilities, and to decide which candidate is most probable. Ordinarily the criteria can not hope to do more."
- The Historical Jesus of the Gospels by Craig S. Keener (13 Apr 2012) ISBN 0802868886 page 163
- Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship by Marcus J. Borg (1 Aug 1994) ISBN 1563380943 pages 4-6
- In a 2011 review of the state of modern scholarship, Bart Ehrman (a secular agnostic) wrote: "He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees" B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285
- Michael Grant (a classicist) states that "In recent years, 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus' or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary." in Jesus by Michael Grant 2004 ISBN 1898799881 page 200
- Richard A. Burridge states: "There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more." in Jesus Now and Then by Richard A. Burridge and Graham Gould (Apr 1, 2004) ISBN 0802809774 page 34
- Robert E. Van Voorst Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence Eerdmans Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 page 16 states: "biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of non-existence of Jesus as effectively refuted"
- James D. G. Dunn "Paul's understanding of the death of Jesus" in Sacrifice and Redemption edited by S. W. Sykes (Dec 3, 2007) Cambridge University Press ISBN 052104460X pages 35-36 states that the theories of non-existence of Jesus are "a thoroughly dead thesis"
- The Gospels and Jesus by Graham Stanton, 1989 ISBN 0192132415 Oxford University Press, p. 145: "Today nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed".
- Encyclopedia of theology: a concise Sacramentum mundi by Karl Rahner 2004 ISBN 0-86012-006-6 pages 730-731
- Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9-page 15
- Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell 1998 ISBN 0-664-25703-8 page 181
- "What about the resurrection? ... Some people believe it did, some believe it didn't. ... But if you do believe it, it is not as a historian" Ehrman, B. Jesus, Interrupted, pg 176 HarperOne; 1 Reprint edition (2 February 2010)
- Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell 1998 ISBN 0-664-25703-8 page 181
- Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey by Craig L. Blomberg 2009 ISBN 0-8054-4482-3 pages 431-436
- Van Voorst (2000) pp. 39-53
- Allison, Dale (February 2009). The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-8028-6262-4. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
We wield our criteria to get what we want.
- John P. Meier (26 May 2009). A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Law and Love. Yale University Press. pp. 6–. ISBN 978-0-300-14096-5. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
- Clive Marsh, "Diverse Agendas at Work in the Jesus Quest" in Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus by Tom Holmen and Stanley E. Porter (Jan 12, 2011) ISBN 9004163727 pages 986-1002
- Jesus Remembered Volume 1, by James D. G. Dunn 2003 ISBN 0-8028-3931-2 pp. 125-126: "the historical Jesus is properly speaking a nineteenth- and twentieth-century construction using the data supplied by the Synoptic tradition, not Jesus back then," (the Jesus of Nazareth who walked the hills of Galilee), "and not a figure in history whom we can realistically use to critique the portrayal of Jesus in the Synoptic tradition."
- Meir, Marginal Jew, 1:21-25
- T. Merrigan, The Historical Jesus in the Pluralist Theology of Religions, in The Myriad Christ: Plurality and the Quest for Unity in Contemporary Christology (ed. T. Merrigan and J. Haers). Princeton-Prague Symposium on Jesus Research, & Charlesworth, J. H. Jesus research: New methodologies and perceptions : the second Princeton-Prague Symposium on Jesus Research, Princeton 2007, p. 77-78: "Dunn points out as well that 'the Enlightenment Ideal of historical objectivity also projected a false goal onto the quest for the historical Jesus,' which implied that there was a 'historical Jesus,' objectively verifiable, 'who will be different from the dogmatic Christ and the Jesus of the Gospels and who will enable us to criticize the dogmatic Christ and the Jesus of the Gospels.' (Jesus Remembered, p. 125)."
- Herzog, W. R. (2005). Prophet and teacher: An introduction to the historical Jesus. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 6
- Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? Harper Collins, 2012, p. 12, ""In simpler terms, the historical Jesus did not exist. Or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity." further quoting as authoritative the fuller definition provided by Earl Doherty in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. Age of Reason, 2009, pp. vii–viii: it is "the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition."
- Jesus Remembered by James D. G. Dunn 2003 ISBN 0-8028-3931-2 page 339 states of baptism and crucifixion that these "two facts in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent".
- Jesus of Nazareth by Paul Verhoeven (Apr 6, 2010) ISBN 1583229051 page 39
- Authenticating the Activities of Jesus by Bruce Chilton and Craig A. Evans 2002 ISBN 0391041649 pages 3-7
- Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus by William R. Herzog (4 Jul 2005) ISBN 0664225284 pages 1-6
- Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell (Nov 1, 1998) ISBN 0664257038 page 117
- Paul L. Maier "The Date of the Nativity and Chronology of Jesus" in Chronos, kairos, Christos by Jerry Vardaman, Edwin M. Yamauchi 1989 ISBN 0-931464-50-1 pages 113-129
- The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum 2009 ISBN 978-0-8054-4365-3 page 114
- Geoffrey Blainey; A Short History of Christianity; Viking; 2011; p.3
- Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, I. Howard Marshall, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (InterVarsity Press, 1992), page 442
- The Historical Jesus in Recent Research edited by James D. G. Dunn and Scot McKnight 2006 ISBN 1-57506-100-7 page 303
- Who Is Jesus? by John Dominic Crossan, Richard G. Watts 1999 ISBN 0664258425 pages 28-29
- In The Historical Jesus in Recent Research edited by James D. G. Dunn and Scot McKnight 2006 ISBN 1-57506-100-7-page 303 Marcus Borg states that the suggestions that an adult Jesus traveled to Egypt of India are "without historical foundation"
- InWho Is Jesus? by John Dominic Crossan, Richard G. Watts 1999 ISBN 0664258425 pages 28-29 John Dominic Crossan states that none of the theories presented to fill the 15-18-year gap between the early life of Jesus and the start of [his ministry have been supported by modern scholarship.
- Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9-page 17
- Kostenberger, Andreas J.; Kellum, L. Scott; Quarles, Charles L. (2009). The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament ISBN 0-8054-4365-7. pages 107-109
- Van Voorst, Robert E. (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 pages 177-118
- The Life and Ministry of Jesus by Douglas Redford 2007 ISBN 0-7847-1900-4-page 32
- The Historical Jesus of the Gospels by Craig S. Keener 2012 ISBN 0802868886 page 182
- Theissen, Gerd; Merz, Annette (1998). The historical Jesus : a comprehensive guide ISBN 0-8006-3122-6. page 165 states: "Our conclusion must be that Jesus came from Nazareth."
- James Barr, Which language did Jesus speak, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, 1970; 53(1) pages 9–29 
- Handbook to exegesis of the New Testament by Stanley E. Porter 1997 ISBN 90-04-09921-2 pages 110–112
- Jesus in history and myth by R. Joseph Hoffmann 1986 ISBN 0-87975-332-3-page 98
- James Barr's review article Which language did Jesus speak (referenced above) states that Aramaic has the widest support among scholars.
- Discovering the language of Jesus by Douglas Hamp 2005 ISBN 1-59751-017-3 page 3-4
- The Lion and the Lamb by Andreas J. Kostenberger, L. Scott Kellum and Charles L Quarles (Jul 15, 2012) ISBN 1433677083 page 40
- Craig Evans, 2006 "Josephus on John the Baptist" in The Historical Jesus in Context edited by Amy-Jill Levine et al. Princeton Univ Press ISBN 9780691009926 pages 55-58
- Herodias: at home in that fox's den by Florence Morgan Gillman 2003 ISBN 0-8146-5108-9 pages 25-30
- The new complete works of Josephus by Flavius Josephus, William Whiston, Paul L. Maier ISBN 0825429242 pages 662-663
- Herod Antipas by Harold W. Hoehner 1983 ISBN 0-310-42251-5 pages 125-127
- Christianity and the Roman Empire: background texts by Ralph Martin Novak 2001 ISBN 1-56338-347-0 pages 302-303
- Hoehner, Harold W (1978). Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ. Zondervan. pp. 29–37. ISBN 0-310-26211-9.
- Pontius Pilate: portraits of a Roman governor by Warren Carter 2003 ISBN 0-8146-5113-5 pages 44-45
- The history of the Jews in the Greco-Roman world by Peter Schäfer 2003 ISBN 0-415-30585-3 page 108
- Backgrounds of early Christianity by Everett Ferguson 2003 ISBN 0-8028-2221-5 page 416
- Craig S. Keener in The Blackwell Companion to Paul edited by Stephen Westerholm 2011 ISBN 1405188448 page 51
- Paul and His Letters by John B. Polhill 1999 ISBN 0-8054-1097-X pages 49-50
- The Cambridge Companion to St Paul by James D. G. Dunn (Nov 10, 2003) Cambridge Univ Press ISBN 0521786940 page 20
- Paul: his letters and his theology by Stanley B. Marrow 1986 ISBN 0-8091-2744-X pages 45-49
- Chronos, Kairos, Christos by Jerry Vardaman and Edwin M. Yamauchi (Aug 1989) ISBN 0931464501 page 211
- Pratt, J. P. (1991). "Newton's Date for the Crucifixion". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society. 32 (3): 301–304. Bibcode:1991QJRAS..32..301P.
- Humphreys, Colin J.; W. G. Waddington (December 1983). "Dating the Crucifixion". Nature. 306 (5945): 743–746. Bibcode:1983Natur.306..743H. doi:10.1038/306743a0.
- Colin Humphreys, The Mystery of the Last Supper Cambridge University Press 2011 ISBN 978-0-521-73200-0, page 13
- Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times by Paul Barnett 2002 ISBN 0-8308-2699-8 pages 19-21
- Sanders (1993). pp. 11, 249.
- Fredriksen, Paula (1988). From Jesus to Christ ISBN 0-300-04864-5 pp. ix-xii
- Sanders, E.P. (1987). Jesus and Judaism, Fortress Press ISBN 0-8006-2061-5 pp. 1-9
- John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew, v. 1, ch. 11; also H.H. Ben-Sasson, A History of the Jewish People, Harvard University Press, 1976, ISBN 0-674-39731-2, page 251
- Chronicle of Jewish History from the Patriarchs to the 21st Century by Sol Scharfstein and Dorcas Gelabert (Oct 1997) ISBN 0881256064 page 85
- "Pharisees." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
- A Guide Through the New Testament by Celia B. Sinclair (May 1, 1994) ISBN 0664254845 page 21
- Jonathan L. Reed, "Archaeological contributions to the study of Jesus and the Gospels" in The Historical Jesus in Context edited by Amy-Jill Levine et al. Princeton Univ Press 2006 ISBN 978-0-691-00992-6 pages 40-47
- Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus: a re-examination of the evidence by Jonathan L. Reed 2002 ISBN 1-56338-394-2 pages xi-xii
- Craig A. Evans (Mar 26, 2012). The Archaeological Evidence For Jesus. The Huffington Post.
- "Jesus Research and Archaeology: A New Perspective" by James H. Charlesworth in Jesus and archaeology edited by James H. Charlesworth 2006 ISBN 0-8028-4880-X pages 11-15
- What are they saying about the historical Jesus? by David B. Gowler 2007 ISBN 0-8091-4445-X page 102
- Craig A. Evans (Mar 16, 2012). Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 0-664-23413-5.
- Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus: a re-examination of the evidence by Jonathan L. Reed 2002 ISBN 1-56338-394-2 page 18
- Historical Dictionary of Jesus by Daniel J. Harrington 2010 ISBN 0-8108-7667-1 page 32
- Studying the historical Jesus: evaluations of the state of current research by Bruce Chilton, Craig A. Evans 1998 ISBN 90-04-11142-5 page 465
- "Jesus and Capernaum: Archeological and Gospel Stratigraohy" in Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus: a re-examination of the evidence by Jonathan L. Reed 2002 ISBN 1-56338-394-2 page 139-156
- Jesus and archaeology edited by James H. Charlesworth 2006 ISBN 0-8028-4880-X page 127
- Who Was Jesus? by Paul Copan and Craig A. Evans 2001 ISBN 0-664-22462-8 page 187
- Jesus: the complete guide by Leslie Houlden 2006 082648011X pages 63-100
- Teaching Christianity: a world religions approach by Clive Erricker 1987 ISBN 0-7188-2634-5 page 44
- Jesus in history and myth by R. Joseph Hoffmann 1986 ISBN 0-87975-332-3 page 98
- Jesus Remembered by James D. G. Dunn 2003 ISBN 0-8028-3931-2 pages 313-315
- Jewish Encyclopedia: Galilee: Characteristics of Galileans: "
- Racializing Jesus: Race, Ideology and the Formation of Modern Biblical Scholarship by Shawn Kelley 2002 ISBN 0-415-28373-6 pages 70-73
- The forging of races: race and scripture in the Protestant Atlantic world by Colin Kidd 2006 ISBN 0-521-79324-6 pages 44-45
- The forging of races: race and scripture in the Protestant Atlantic world by Colin Kidd 2006 ISBN 0-521-79324-6 page 18
- The likeness of the king: a prehistory of portraiture in late medieval France by Stephen Perkinson 2009 ISBN 0-226-65879-1 page 30
- Amy-Jill Levine in The Historical Jesus in Context edited by Amy-Jill Levine et al. Princeton Univ Press 2006 ISBN 978-0-691-00992-6 page 10
- Matthew 13:55
- Dickson, John. Jesus: A Short Life, Lion Hudson, 2008, ISBN 0-8254-7802-2, page 47
- Fiensy, David A.; Jesus the Galilean: soundings in a first century life, Gorgias Press LLC, 2007, ISBN 1-59333-313-7 page 68
- Fiensy, David A.; Jesus the Galilean: soundings in a first century life, Gorgias Press LLC, 2007, ISBN 1-59333-313-7 pages 74-77
- Jesus the Jew: a historian's reading of the Gospels by Jeza Vermes 1983 ISBN SBN: 0961614846 page 21
- Ehrman, Bart D. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 978-0-06-073817-4
- Crossan, John Dominic. The essential Jesus. Edison: Castle Books. 1998. “Contexts,” p 1-24.
- Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press. 1998. translated from German (1996 edition)
- Sanders terms it a "minor village." Sanders, E. P. The historical figure of Jesus. Penguin, 1993. p. 104
- Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus: A Re-examination of the Evidence by Jonathan L. Reed (May 1, 2002) ISBN 1563383942 pages 131-134
- Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus: A Re-examination of the Evidence by Jonathan L. Reed (May 1, 2002) ISBN 1563383942 pages 114-117
- The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Q-Z) by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Jan 31, 1995) ISBN 0802837840 page 50
- The Gospel of Mark by John R. Donahue and Daniel J., S.J. Harrington (Jan 1, 2002) ISBN 0814659659 pages 60-61
- Whoever Hears You Hears Me: Prophets, Performance, and Tradition in Q by Richard A. Horsley and Jonathan A. Draper (Nov 1, 1999) ISBN 1563382725 page 127
- Theissen and Merz 1998, p. 354 (for example, Mark 1.39, 2.25, 12.10; Matt. 12.5, 19.4, 21.16; Luke 4.16; and John 7.15)
- Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998. "What do we really know about Jesus" p. 527-534.
- Crossan, John Dominic. The essential Jesus. Edison: Castle Books. 1998. p. 147
- In The Cambridge Companion to Jesus edited by Markus Bockmuehl (Dec 3, 2001) ISBN 0521796784 page 14
- In The Cambridge Companion to Jesus edited by Markus Bockmuehl (Dec 3, 2001) ISBN 0521796784 page 21
- John Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus 1991 ISBN 0300140185 page 278
- Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus by William R. Herzog (Jul 4, 2005) ISBN 0664225284 page 8
- The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth by Ben Witherington (May 8, 1997) ISBN 0830815449 page 197
- Analysis of fragments of the New Testament books for Jesus as apocalyptic prophet: Leszek Nowak, "A great mistake and disappointment of early Christianity" at Internet Archive (Polish)
- The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth by Ben Witherington (May 8, 1997) ISBN 0830815449 page 136
- Sanders, E. P. The historical figure of Jesus. Penguin, 1993. Chapter 15, Jesus' view of his role in God's plan.
- Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium by Bart D. Ehrman (Sep 23, 1999) ISBN 0195124731 Oxford University Press pp.
- Dale Allison, Constructing Jesus: Memory, Imagination, and History 2010, ISBN 0801035856 page 32
- Ben Witherington, The Jesus quest: the third search for the Jew of Nazareth. p.108; Geza Vermes, Jesus the Jew: A Historian's Reading of the Gospels, Minneapolis, Fortress Press 1973.
- The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth by Ben Witherington (May 8, 1997) ISBN 0830815449 page 98
- The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum 2009 ISBN 978-0-8054-4365-3 pages 117–125
- Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey by Dr Craig L Blomberg (1 Aug 2009) ISBN 0805444823 page 213
- The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth by Ben Witherington (May 8, 1997) ISBN 0830815449 page 137-138
- The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth by Ben Witherington (May 8, 1997) ISBN 0830815449 pages 161-163
- Brandon, S.G.F. (1988), "The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth"
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- Mark Allan Powell, Jesus as a figure in history: how modern historians view the man from Galilee p.56; Morton Smith, Jesus the magician: charlatan or Son of God?
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- "Jesus Christus vom Standpunkt des Psychiaters" (Handelsdruckerei, Bamberg, 1905).
- "Religion and Civilization: The Conclusions of a Psychiatrist" (Truth Seeker, New York, 1912).
- Times, 22 August 1974, 14
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- Ted Jeory (express.co.uk), "Jesus Christ 'may have suffered from mental health problems', claims Church of England" (English)
- World English Bible
- Karina Jarzyńska (racjonalista.pl), "Jezus jako egocentryczny schizotymik" (Polish)
- Leszek Nowak, Prywatna Witryna Internetowa Leszka Nowaka at Internet Archive (Polish)
- The Quest for the Plausible Jesus: The Question of Criteria by Gerd Theissen and Dagmar Winter (Aug 30, 2002) ISBN 0664225373 pages 1-6
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- "Introducing the Journal of Higher Criticism".
- Hendel, Ronald (June 2010). "Knowledge and Power in Biblical Scholarship". Retrieved 6 January 2011.
... The problem at hand is how to preserve the critical study of the Bible in a professional society that has lowered its standards to the degree that apologetics passes as scholarship ...
- Meier, John. "Finding the Historical Jesus: An Interview With John P. Meier". St. Anthony Messenger. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
... I think a lot of the confusion comes from the fact that people claim they are doing a quest for the historical Jesus when de facto they’re doing theology, albeit a theology that is indeed historically informed.
- Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium by Bart D. Ehrman 1999 ISBN 0-19-512473-1 pages 22–23
- Meier 1994 v.2 ch. 17; Ehrman 1999 p.227-8
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- Brown, Raymond E. (1993). The Death of the Messiah: from Gethsemane to the Grave. New York: Anchor Bible. ISBN 0-385-49449-1.
- Brown, Raymond E. et al. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary Prentice Hall 1990 ISBN 0-13-614934-0
- Bock, Darrell L., Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods.. Baker Academic: 2002. ISBN 978-0-8010-2451-1.
- Craffert, Pieter F. and Botha, Pieter J. J. "Why Jesus Could Walk On The Sea But He Could Not Read And Write". Neotestamenica. 39.1, 2005.
- Crossan, John Dominic. Jesus : A Revolutionary Biography. Harpercollins: 1994. ISBN 0-06-061661-X.
- Dickson, John. Jesus: A Short Life, Lion Hudson plc, 2008, ISBN 0-8254-7802-2, ISBN 978-0-8254-7802-4, Google Books
- Ehrman, Bart D. (1999). Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. New York: Oxford. ISBN 0-19-512473-1.
- Fiensy, David A.; Jesus the Galilean: soundings in a first century life, Gorgias Press LLC, 2007, ISBN 1-59333-313-7, ISBN 978-1-59333-313-3, Google books
- Fredriksen, Paula (2000). Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews: A Jewish Life and the Emergence of Christianity. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-679-76746-6.
- Gnilka, Joachim.; Jesus of Nazareth: Message and History, Hendrickson Publishers, 1997.
- Gowler, David B.; What Are They Saying About the Historical Jesus?, Paulist Press, 2007,
- Grant, Michael. Jesus: A Historian's Review of the Gospels. Scribner's, 1977. ISBN 0-684-14889-7.
- Funk, Robert W. (1998). The Acts of Jesus: The Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0-06-062978-9.
- Harris, by William V. Ancient Literacy. Harvard University Press: 1989. ISBN 0-674-03380-9.
- Meier, John P., A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Doubleday,
- v. 1, The Roots of the Problem and the Person, 1991, ISBN 0-385-26425-9
- v. 2, Mentor, Message, and Miracles, 1994, ISBN 0-385-46992-6
- v. 3, Companions and Competitors, 2001, ISBN 0-385-46993-4
- v. 4, Law and Love, 2009, ISBN 978-0-300-14096-5
- O'Collins, G. Jesus: A Portrait. Darton, Longman and Todd: 2008. ISBN 978-0232527193
- O'Collins, G. Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus. OUP: 2009. ISBN 978-0199557875
- Sanders, E.P. Jesus and Judaism. Augsburg Fortress Publishers: 1987.
- Sanders, E.P. The Historical Figure of Jesus. Lane The Penguin Press: 1993.
- Vermes, G. Jesus the Jew: A Historian's Reading of the Gospels. SCM Classics:2001, ISBN 0-334-02839-6
- Theissen, Gerd and Merz, Annette. The Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide. Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 1998. ISBN 0-8006-3122-6.
- Van Voorst, Robert E., Jesus Outside the New Testament, 2000, Eerdmans, google books
- Witherington III, Ben. The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth. InterVarsity Press: 1997. ISBN 0-8308-1544-9.
- Wright, N.T. Christian Origins and the Question of God, a projected six volume series of which three have been published under:
- v. 1, The New Testament and the People of God. Augsburg Fortress Publishers: 1992.;
- v. 2, Jesus and the Victory of God. Augsburg Fortress Publishers: 1997.;
- v. 3, The Resurrection of the Son of God. Augsburg Fortress Publishers: 2003.
- "Jesus Christ". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2009. The first section, on Jesus' life and ministry