Historical Jesus

There’s an interesting debate between Richard Carrier and Mark Goodacre here, two of my favorite scholars, and some post-analysis here (by Carrier) and here (by Vridar). They’re debating the historical nature of Jesus, as in whether or not he was a real person, or a myth.

As for my current thinking on this question, I’ll say what I’ve said for awhile – historical information in the NT is very difficult to come by. If you’re looking for some, you have to do three things. One, look at the probably authentic Paul’s letters – 1 Thess, Galatians, 1 Cor and 2 Cor, and Romans. Two, look at the gospel of Mark. Three, do these things while forgetting about the rest of the New Testament as if it didn’t exist, chiefly because the rest is of later composition and thus suspect.

It’s not critical or important to me whether or not there was a historical Jesus. I sit on the fence on that one. Either way, it doesn’t affect my research that much, since the gospels, which I’m interested in, were written decades after the supposed fact under debate. It’s important to note that at some point Jesus was ‘historicized’ by the gospels, regardless of his earlier status, but the original status pales in comparison to the influence of what came after.

It is nearly impossible to strip the gospel accounts off of Jesus. They aim to, and succeed, in reaching backward in time and confusing us as to what is fact, what is tradition, and what is fiction. The tide is turning, in a scholarly sense, toward tradition and fiction and away from fact and tradition, but there is still a long way to go.

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