The Gospels as Sources for Historical Information about Jesus

Craig Keener has written a very nice article on the use of the Gospels – imagine that – to discover the Historical Jesus:

Scholars reconstruct the historical Jesus in various ways. Often they do so based on which sources about Jesus they privilege and how much they accept as reliable in these sources. Some scholars accept very little in the Gospels as reliable, hence sometimes offer reconstructions from the silence that remains – arguments from silence. Because of their minimal trust in the Gospels, others feel free to play some elements of the gospel tradition off against others – though usually these elements are not intrinsically contradictory.

The Bible and Interpretation.

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8 Replies to “The Gospels as Sources for Historical Information about Jesus”

    1. I would tend to disagree given the nature of the accounts found in what we call the Gospels – or at least the first three. We might not to prove the bible by itself – silly to think so, really – but I do believe we can gain a perspective on the historical Jesus by using them, more especially given the nature of writing and oral tradition at this time.

      1. I would tend to disagree given the nature of the accounts found in what we call the Gospels – or at least the first three.

        You mean the books featuring shockingly-conflicting supposedly first-hand accounts of key events?

        We might not to prove the bible by itself – silly to think so, really – but I do believe we can gain a perspective on the historical Jesus by using them, more especially given the nature of writing and oral tradition at this time.

        You’re saying that the Bible’s content is true because its narrative style reflects characteristics of the time period’s oral histories? By such a low standard, any piece of well-constructed literary fiction could be thought of as scripture.

        What evidence, apart from the Bible, exists to support the notion of an “historical” Jesus? Listing a site on the National Register of Historical Places requires more verifiable documentation than is available to corroborate the existence and adventures of Jesus–stories on which millions of people base their current and after- lives.

        Like I’ve said before:

        Christians proudly base their lives and futures on a 2,000 year-old compilation with unverifiable provenance and an infamous history of translation-related issues–but just try writing a check at the Christian bookstore without proper ID.

        1. No. What I am saying is that a historian can gain factual insights about the Historical Jesus from the narratives of the Gospels because of the manner in which they were written.

          As Profess James McGrath has written about, considerably, there is plenty of evidence which is more than ‘unverifiable.’ And here as well. Just look for the section of McGrath.

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