I’m currently reviewing Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity edited by Chris Keith and Anthony Le Donne. Thus far, I have been thoroughly impressed by their clear call to revisit and possibly jettison traditional criteria all the while making cogent, informed, and careful argumentation. This book is a compilation of multiple authors involved in Gospel and Historical Jesus related studies. I have been studying Historical Jesus research for some time now (even my careless, ad hominem, atrociously edited thesis was on the overall movement). So, for the past number of years I’ve had an interest in Historical Jesus research and have tried keeping up on the plethora of sources. How Keith and Le Donne’s book escaped my attention, I have no idea!
Trying to act like a “prophet” for Historical Jesus studies, I find it interesting to see a new generation engaging the current conversations on the discipline. It is strikingly obvious how the 1st Search, No Search, and portions of the 2nd Search have been overly skeptical of providing authenticity to the portraits of Jesus as he historically lived. However, a new generation, keen on Historical Jesus research, has a critical eye to this historical endeavor; they are critical enough to possibly redirect the course of the discipline’s future.
For the future, I’m anticipating some of the following:
- Modification of critical and traditional criteria with wider implications
- Observation of the Gospels as “Whole units” as opposed to form-critical units
- Rethinking a “4th Search”, distinct from the current 3rd Search, or even jettisoning such titles altogether
Overall, if Historical Jesus scholars act with intellectual integrity by listening to one another, the next decade or two will be exciting to watch as new Historical Jesus scholars in a post-modern world address modern endeavors. I think this is the future of the discipline. We live in a post-modern world, post-modern scholars are on the rise, and they are asking post-modern questions. Historical Jesus is a modernist enterprise and can post-modern Historical Jesus scholars, if such a concept exists, change this discipline? I say yes and, I think, we are currently seeing the start of such endeavor.