The purpose of this web page is to explain and explore some of the theories offered up by contemporary scholars on the historical Jesus and the origins of the Christian religion. Issues include the nature of the historical Jesus, the nature of the early Christian documents, and the origins of the Christian faith in a risen Jesus Christ.
Luke Timothy Johnson criticizes the Jesus Seminar and scholars such as Burton Mack for what he considers to be unchecked optimism (or pessimism, depending on your feelings about the Jesus Seminar) about what can be known about early Christianity and about the historical Jesus. Johnson calls for a more cautious approach to history that states what few facts that can be known - for example, the baptism and the crucifixion - and does not venture to speculate about what cannot be known. In place of such speculation, Johnson advocates a fideism in which we accept any additional items - for example, the resurrection - on the basis of the tradition and the authority of the church. Johnson believes that Jesus is who the New Testament and the creeds say he is: the Son of God who came to suffer willingly and die for our sins.
Please enjoy exploring the varied Historical Jesus Theories offered by these authors through the links below.
Jesus the Myth: Heavenly Christ
Jesus the Myth: Man of the Indefinite Past
Jesus the Hellenistic Hero
Jesus the Revolutionary
Jesus the Wisdom Sage
Jesus the Man of the Spirit
Jesus the Prophet of Social Change
Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet
Jesus the Savior
For more information on the debate over the historical Jesus, visit the Christian Origins web site.
Go to the Chronological List of all Early Christian Writings
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