Here is the first comprehensive, balanced account of historical Jesus studies. Beginning with brief discussions of the early days of historical research into the person of Jesus and the methods developed by researchers at the time, Mark Allen Powell offers insightful overviews of some of the most important participants in the contemporary Jesus quests.
Anyone intrigued by the history, methodology and results of the research done in the quest for the historical Jesus should read Powell's study. In his opening chapter, Powell notes that interest in the historical Jesus began in the 1700s due to Reimarus's volume that declared Jesus to be a messiah only in a worldly, political sense. He then explains how later scholars have influenced the search for the historical Jesus. The heart of the book lies in Powell's "snapshots" of Jesus, a sampling of the diverse portraits of the historical Jesus and of the scholars who are engaged in contemporary research, including: Jesus as social prophet (Richard A. Horsley); Jesus as charismatic Jew (Geza Vermes); Jesus as magician (Morton Smith); Jesus as Jewish sage (Ben Witherington III); and Jesus as cynic philosopher (F. Gerald Downing). He then presents what he regards as the six key players in the current quest for the historical Jesus--the participants in the Jesus Seminar, John Dominic Crossan, Marcus J. Borg, E.P. Sanders, John P. Meier and N.T. Wright--and offers critiques of their methods and findings. Powell concludes that the goal of our search for the historical Jesus should be "the Jesus of a story, a story of which history is but a part, sometimes a shadow."