Quests of the Historical Jesus in New Historicist Perspective

In: Biblical Interpretation

Abstract

This article looks at the way that the so-called Third Quest relates to past versions of the Quest of the Historical Jesus. Nine different forms of the Quest are uncovered. The history of the Quest is then re-examined in the light of this mapping exercise, drawing on New Historicist insights. Five themes are taken up: the dominance of white, male European/North American contributors to the Quest; its close alliance with Western bourgeous capitalism and individualism; issues surroundings the Quest's marketability and popularity; the consequences of reading the Quest less as a single narrative than as a collection of local ideological explorations; the necessity and dangers of re-writing the Quest's own history. In conclusion, it is suggested that the future of the Quest lies with greater attention to ideology, not less. This in turn invites a reconsideration of the christological framework within which Jesus Research must inevitably be placed.

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