A Different Kind of "Historical Jesus"?

On his blog Euangelion, Michael Bird (currently attending the Dogmatics Conference in Edinburgh) has provided the final sentences of a paper given by John Webster entitled “The Eternal Begetting of the Son”:

“The only historical Jesus there is is the one who has his being in union with the Son of God who is eternally begotten of the Father. Those who pore over the gospels searching for another Jesus (whether their motives be apologetic or critical) pierce their hearts with many pangs, for they study a matter which does not exist.”

This is certainly a provocative conclusion, especially in light of the explosive growth of historical Jesus scholarship throughout the last century (growth helpfully charted for the blogosphere by Scot McKnight, with additional insightful comments from Mark Goodacre). I’m longing to read the rest of the paper… are “[t]hose who pore over the gospels searching for another Jesus” doomed to failure because of a lack of reliable source material (a judgment akin to that of Bultmann)? Or are the theological and historical personages of Jesus truly inseparable? Alas, a trip to Edinburgh wasn’t included in my summer budget… 😉


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