Who Is Jesus? Disputed Questions and Answers

Who Is Jesus? Disputed Questions and Answers

Who Is Jesus? Disputed Questions and Answers

Who Is Jesus? Disputed Questions and Answers

Synopsis

New Testament scholars have long debated the historical identity of Jesus and the development of Christology within the church's history. In Who Is Jesus? Carl Braaten reviews the various historical Jesus quests, arguing that it is time for the current ("third") quest to admit failure. Against the implication that "the real Jesus has been lost and needs to be found," Braaten maintains that the only real Jesus is the One presented in the canonical Gospels and that "any other Jesus is irrelevant to Christian faith." He draws on a wealth of historical resources to address such contentious questions as these:
  • What can we actually know about Jesus of Nazareth?
  • Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
  • Is Jesus unique -- the one and only way of salvation?
  • Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?
  • Was Jesus the founder of the Christian church?
  • What does Jesus have to do with politics?

Excerpt

The aim of apologetic theology is to provide answers to disputed questions. the most disputed questions in theology today have to do with Jesus of Nazareth. Who was Jesus? Historical-critical research into the beginnings of Christianity has been frustrated by endless attempts to explain who Jesus was and what he said and did. No scholarly consensus exists regarding the question that Jesus addressed to his disciples on the road to Caesarea Philippi, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15). For centuries, indeed, for more than a millennium, Christian theologians believed they possessed the definitive answer in the Nicene Creed: “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.” That is what I believe and confess along with all other orthodox Christians. But that does not in itself answer the question of how to explain the development from the Jesus of the Gospels to the Christ of the Creeds. How did the Jesus of history become the Christ of faith?

The use of the modern historical-critical method gave rise to suspicion, especially in scholarly circles, that Jesus was the most misunderstood personality of all time. a shift took place from a dogmatic approach to a thoroughgoing historical perspective. Scholars wanted to discover who Jesus “really” was in his own time and place and not merely accept at face value what his followers believed about him. Thus began “the quest of the historical Jesus” that Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965) wrote about in his monumental classic by that title. the original quest that started with Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694–1768) and continued until Schweitzer gave way to a new quest led by New Testament scholars such as Ernst Käsemann (1906–1998), Günther Bornkamm (1905–1990),

1. On the three quests for the historical Jesus, see chapter 1 below.

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