I have a mild obsession when it comes to historical Jesus studies. So when I was looking through the IVP catalog last fall at potential books to review, The Historical Jesus: Five Views was one I couldn’t pass up.
Many in the Evangelical church world have been suspicious of academic efforts to recover the Jesus of history. THis is based on assumption that there is a gap between the true history of Jesus and the Jesus of the Christian faith. And it’s true that voices from both sides have propelled that argument.
Personally, I’ve found that diving into the history of and around Jesus has led to a much fuller understanding of who Jesus was in his time, and therefore what he means for our time. Our understanding of Jesus’ time has exploded in the last century, and especially in the last few decades. Yes, many scholars draw different conclusions based on their research, but learning how they see Jesus challenges and expands how I do.
The Historical Jesus: Five Views is a helpful introduction to the breadth of perspectives about Jesus. Five different scholars, representing a broad stream of thought, write introductory essays to who the Jesus of history was. After each essay, the other four write their responses. It is helpful to see not only how different scholars view Jesus, but also how others respond.