Finding the Historical Christ - Vol. 3

Finding the Historical Christ - Vol. 3

Finding the Historical Christ - Vol. 3

Finding the Historical Christ - Vol. 3


Paul Barnett's title Finding the Historical Christ is a calculated jab against the popular dichotomy between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith. In this book Barnett seeks to establish that the two figures are, in fact, one and the same.
The culmination of Barnett's After Jesus trilogy, Finding the Historical Christ carefully examines the ancient sources pertaining to Jesus, including writings by historians hostile to the Christian movement (Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny), the summarized "biographies" of Jesus in the book of Acts, and especially the four canonical Gospels. Based on compelling historical evidence, Barnett maintains that Jesus of Nazareth regarded himself as the prophesied Christ, as did his disciples before Jesus died and rose again. This is the only way to explain the phenomenon of the early church worshiping Jesus.


The third in the series After Jesus logically follows the first, The Birth of Christianity: the First Twenty Years (A.D. 33-55), and the second, Paul: Missionary of Jesus (A.D. 34-64). Finding the Historical Christ depends almost entirely on the gospels written (I think) between the years 60 and 80. So there is a chronological sequence.

Studies of second-century gospel manuscripts and the early Christian writings give us high confidence that the text of the gospels is largely recoverable and was in circulation and use well before the end of the first century. Furthermore, the raw evidence from the hostile early sources Josephus, Tacitus, and Pliny confirms the New Testament’s accounts of the origin, spread, and belief structure of the new faith. As a body of literature, the gospels and most of the New Testament are effectively “sealed off” by second-century authorities, whether Christian or hostile. in this students of Christian origins are indeed fortunate.

The major problem historians face is that the texts upon which we rely for Jesus of Nazareth were written at a time when he was regarded as a heavenly, divine figure. the book of Acts is important in explaining how the historical Jesus came to be worshiped as Lord and Christ. Its answer, and the answer of the gospels, is captured in the single idea, Jesus was the Christ. According to the gospels and Acts, it was because the prepaschal, preresurrection Jesus believed himself to be, and was said to be, the Christ that he came to be worshiped postresurrection.

But many (most?) historians of early Christianity balk at this explanation. in essence they hold that the preresurrection Jesus was a lesser fig-

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