Three Searches for the “Historical Jesus” but no Biblical Christ: The Rise of the Searches (Part 1)

F. David Farnell | July 26, 2012

This is a two-part series. Part One covers the rise of three periods of activity known as “searching for the ‘historical Jesus.’” Its overarching purpose is a deliberate attempt to destroy the influence of the gospels and the church upon society. While this purpose is openly and honestly admitted by theological liberals, evangelicals who participate now in the “third” quest are far less candid as to its design. Part Two will cover this growing evangelical participation in searching. These searches started with the rise in dominance of the ideology of historical criticism over two hundred years ago and are a natural consequence of the innate historical skepticism replete in them. The first two searches ended as declared failures by those who engaged in them. Now some of the same scholars who have inspired the New Perspective on Paul have also been largely influential in stimulating the “third search for ‘the historical Jesus’” (e.g. Sanders, Wright, Dunn). When the evidence is examined, only one overall “search for the ‘historical’ Jesus” actually has existed. All three are unified by sharing, to some degree, the unifying characteristics of significant degrees of suspicion regarding the gospels, similar ideological approaches in utilizing historical criticism, a refusal to accept the biblical accounts as truly depicting Jesus as He actually was in history, and a marked preference for developing a view of Jesus that is acceptable to scholarship.

Vol. 23, no. 1 (Spring 2012)

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Farnell, F. David. "Three Searches for the “Historical Jesus” but no Biblical Christ: The Rise of the Searches (Part 1)." The Master's Seminary Journal 23, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 7-42.