In this episode that was co-produced with the Mormon Sunday School and Feminist Mormon Housewives podcasts, Eric Huntsman, Jared Anderson, and Lindsay Hansen Park join me for a fascinating examination of the what has often been referred to as the “quest for the historical Jesus,” and especially the ways in which the Jesus who lived and breathed and walked the roads of ancient Palestine (or, if not that, at least the Jesus we can uncover through historical methods) might differ from the “Christ of faith.” This is a hotly contested subject, made all the more difficult because of the fragmentary nature of the sources, but also because of the complication that most commentators (including the authors of the Gospels and other New Testament and apocryphal writings) have religious or faith stakes in the question, Most everyone who goes into this scholarship “wants” the actual Jesus to be who their faith has led them to believe he was.
The panelists discuss what it is we can know about the historical Jesus, taking us through a history of the various “quests” to discover him, the main sources scholars have to deal with, the criteria they use to determine the likelihood of various sayings and actions being things Jesus really did versus later creations/amplifications, and the ancient settings in which he lived and in which Christianity took root. Most importantly, they also address questions such as: “If the historical record can’t determine something conclusively, does it mean that Jesus did not do/say it?” and “Does/Should faith commitments hinge on the accuracy of the biblical presentations of Jesus?” The panelists also specifically evaluate claims in the recent book that has launched new interest in this question, Zealot, by Reza Aslan.
We hope you will enjoy this discussion! Please share your thoughts below!
(Much thanks to William Newman and James Estrada for doing the post-production editing for this episode!)
Links to Resources (recommended by Jared Anderson and/or Eric Huntsman):