A-Scandalous-Jesus

Scandalous Jesus

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“Joseph Bessler’s A Scandalous Jesus not only provides a succinct outline of the quests for the historical Jesus, but situates each quest within the wider religious and cultural contexts in which they emerged. By doing so, he highlights the ways that both public and ecclesial realms play an important role in shaping scholarly debate.” —Biblical Theology Review

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A Scandalous Jesus
How Three Historic Quests Changed Theology for the Better

Joseph A. Bessler

Description

The question of the historical Jesus is not only a historical question but also a historic one. And historic questions can be the most scandalous, says Joe Bessler, because they challenge the assumptions governing societies. Like Galileo questioning the Ptolemaic universe, historic questions transgress the limits of authority, belonging, and institutional legitimacy. Each of the three quests of the historical Jesus—from the original quest in the 18th century, through the new quest, to the renewed quest in the late 20th century—has opened up new questions. In A Scandalous Jesus, Bessler seeks to capture the historic questions that surround and shape research on the historical Jesus and assess the impact of the differing quests on theological and cultural life.

Author Joe Bessler spoke about A Scandalous Jesus on the radio program Religion for Life. Listen to the podcasts below:

Contents

Introduction

Part One: The First Quest

1. Why the First Quest for the Historical Jesus?
2. Locke, Hume, and the Shifting Loyalties of Reason
Interlude: Jefferson’s Jesus and the Religious Conflicts of a New Civil Society
3. Reimarus and the Critique of Ecclesiastical Power
4. Lessing and the Public Staging of the Reimarus Fragments
5. Strauss, Jesus, and the Scandal of Democracy
6. Schweitzer and the Scandal of Liberal Theology

Part Two: The New Quest

7. The Christian Retreat from Public Life
8. Avoiding Scandal: The New Quest
9. The New Quest and the Changing Voices of Theology

Part Three: The Renewed Quest

10. The Turn to Language in Biblical Studies and Theology
11. The Jesus Seminar and the Renewed Quest for a Public Jesus
12. Beyond Belief: Re-Imagining Faith

Notes
Works Cited
Index

Praise for A Scandalous Jesus:

“I love this book! Bessler thinks so clearly and writes so well. This is an excellent analysis, an important contribution to theology and to the history of biblical scholarship.” —Rick Lowery, Lexington Theological Seminary

“With theological agility and clarity, Joe Bessler teaches us how three quests for the historical Jesus opened historic questions about dissent and free public discourse, about human struggle and diversity, and about the power of language to disorient and reorient.” — Kristine A. Culp, The University of Chicago

“How to manage faith-challenging information and its logical conclusions is an inevitable result of historical Jesus research. Joseph A. Bessler’s A Scandalous Jesus … provides a history of historical Jesus research and shows how those efforts are themselves historic, as they’ve ‘created a series of profound social, political, and theological impacts that have continued to shape and reshape our world.’ Following a detailed overview of key players and moments in the trajectory of historical Jesus research, Bessler admits discomfort with what its implications do to the “ ‘old’ mainline churches,” but is finally optimistic about embracing “models of faith that go beyond official claim of right belief and supernaturalism.” —Publishers Weekly

Joseph A. Bessler is Robert Travis Peake Professor of Theology at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and is the author of Law and Theology: Cases and Readings with Martin H. Belsky (2005).

Publisher: Polebridge Press
Publication date: 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59815-122-0
E-book ISBN: 978-1-59815-123-7
Number of pages: 264
Format: Paperback

Subject:
Historical Jesus
Religion & Culture

“Joseph Bessler’s A Scandalous Jesus not only provides a succinct outline of the quests for the historical Jesus, but situates each quest within the wider religious and cultural contexts in which they emerged. By doing so, he highlights the ways that both public and ecclesial realms play an important role in shaping scholarly debate. … An outstanding resource.” —Biblical Theology Review

“I love this book! Bessler thinks so clearly and writes so well. This is an excellent analysis, an important contribution to theology and to the history of biblical scholarship.” —Rick Lowery, Lexington Theological Seminary

“With theological agility and clarity, Joe Bessler teaches us how three quests for the historical Jesus opened historic questions about dissent and free public discourse, about human struggle and diversity, and about the power of language to disorient and reorient.” — Kristine A. Culp, The University of Chicago

“How to manage faith-challenging information and its logical conclusions is an inevitable result of historical Jesus research. Joseph A. Bessler’s A Scandalous Jesus … provides a history of historical Jesus research and shows how those efforts are themselves historic, as they’ve ‘created a series of profound social, political, and theological impacts that have continued to shape and reshape our world.’ Following a detailed overview of key players and moments in the trajectory of historical Jesus research, Bessler admits discomfort with what its implications do to the “ ‘old’ mainline churches,” but is finally optimistic about embracing “models of faith that go beyond official claim of right belief and supernaturalism.” —Publishers Weekly

“Finally—a theologian who takes the historical Jesus seriously! An exciting book that offers to set theology on a new and renewing course.” —Bernard Brandon Scott , Phillips Theological Seminary

“Bessler makes an innovative argument about the question of the historical Jesus and he makes it well. He challenges my own skepticism about the historical Jesus, awaking me from my skeptical slumbers.” — Clark Williamson, Christian Theological Seminary emeritus

“Joseph Bessler describes the recurring search for the historical Jesus with a keen interpretive eye and clear prose. This original and engaging book provides a unique slant on what all of this has meant and means now for theological inquiry as well as the nature of faith and belief.” — Malcolm Warford, Theological Educator and Minister in the United Church of Christ

“Joe Bessler connects various quests for the historical Jesus with the cultures of both Christianity and the public life within which they arise. The result is a fascinating story.” — Mark G. Toulouse, Emmanuel College, University of Toronto