Scandalous Jesus

How Three Historic Quests Changed Theology for the Better

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Joseph A. Bessler

$ 25.00 USD

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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: 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 "One of Bessler’s great contributions to historical Jesus studies is a systematic application of the postmodern insight that none of us works in a vacuum; Bessler proves that we are all products of our time, himself included." —Review of Biblical Literature “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 WeeklyJoseph 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).