Who on Earth was Jesus?
Who on Earth was
published by O-Books (John Hunt Publishing) of Winchester
in April 2008. Within days, and following a three-star preview in
Publishers Weekly, it sold out and was hastily reprinted.
There are innumerable
books by Christians about the Christ of faith, books by Jews about Jesus
the Jew, books by atheists about Jesus the myth, books by specialist New
Testament scholars that are all Greek to everyone except New Testament
scholars. And of course there are books proposing a married Jesus, a gay
Jesus, a Jesus who was really a woman named Mildred... What is different
about Who on Earth was Jesus?
This book is
ground-breaking because in its 448 pages it looks at the theories and
conclusions of all the main competing schools of historical Jesus
scholarship. With a scrupulous fairness and objectivity that has been
commented on by reviewers from all parts of the religious (and
non-religious) spectrum, David Boulton summarises the work of the
world’s most eminent scholars and ‘Jesus detectives’ to present an
engrossing account of the quest and the debates that rage around it.
As the Canadian
Catholic Register put it, ‘To get an
accurate sense of the sweep of scholarship would require one to read
hundreds of books. Or you could simply pick up David Boulton’s new
book... Its genius lies in its ability to accurately and concisely
present the ideas of more than twenty prominent scholars whose work is
representative of main currents of modern thought.’
Who on Earth was
comes in three parts:
PART 1, SOURCES, asks ‘Why search for the
historical Jesus?’, summarises the history of the quest, discusses the
available source material – Biblical, non-Biblical, Jewish, secular –
and describes how critical historical analysis works.
PART 2, INTERPRETATIONS, is the meat of the
book. It first looks at the controversial Jesus Seminar, emphasising its
often overlooked diversity of viewpoints, before covering more
conservative and more radical schools of scholarship, from those that
see no difference between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith
to those that find only a mythical Jesus.
PART 3, CONSEQUENCES, sets out where most
scholars agree and what issues remain unresolved. Among the most
contested issues is whether the apocalyptic ‘end-time’ texts originate
with the historical Jesus or his later followers, and what consequences
this might have today.
full description of what this book contains, click on Full table of
sample pages, click on EXTRACTS
scholars discussed at length in Who on Earth was Jesus? are DALE
ALLISON, THOMAS ALTIZER, MARCUS BORG, BERNARD BRANDON SCOTT, KATHLEEN
CORLEY, JOHN DOMINIC CROSSAN, JAMES DUNN, BART EHRMAN, ROBERT EISENMAN,
ROBERT FUNK, KAREN KING, JOHN KLOPPENBORG, GERD LUDEMANN, BURTON
MACK, JOHN P MEIER, JOSEPH RATZINGER, E P SANDERS, GEZA VERMES, G A
WELLS, WALTER WINK, N T WRIGHT
‘Simply the best and most thorough account of the breadth and variety of
historical Jesus scholarship.’ MARCUS BORG, author of ‘Meeting Jesus
Again for the First Time’