"...by the end of the first century Christianity had lost sight
of the real Jesus and of the original meaning of his message...[The real
Jesus, a] religious man with an irresistible charismatic charm [was
replaced by] Jesus the Christ, the transcendent object of the Christian
religion." Geza Vermes, "The
Changing Faces of Jesus."
"There are a myriad of scholarly quests for the historical Jesus,
and each one finds the Jesus that the scholar goes looking for. Each one,
however, can add texture to the student's own personal understanding of
Jesus." George R. Dekle, Sr., Amazon.com book reviewer.
The term "historical Jesus" refers to the life of
Yeshua of Nazareth, from his birth in Palestine to his execution in
Jerusalem. He is viewed, primarily by religious liberals, as a flesh and
blood human, finite, and mortal; a devoutly Jewish peasant, healer, and
The following is a list of books, both historical and
modern, about the quest for the historical Jesus. They are primarily
written by theologians and historians.
We have marked a few books that we have found of particular interest.
Robert W. Funk, et al., "The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus,"
Harper San Francisco, (1997). Read
reviews or order this book. This includes English translations of the
four canonical gospels and the Gospel of Thomas. The Gospel of Thomas is a one
of about 40 gospels that were widely accepted among early Christians, but
which never made it into the Christian Scriptures (New Testament). Each saying
attributed to Jesus is rated as to its authenticity.
Robert E. Van Voorst, "Jesus outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence (Studying the Historical Jesus),"
reviews or order this book. References to Jesus from ancient texts
other than the Bible are discussed.
Older books (originally written prior to 1980):
Rudolf Bultmann, "The History of the Synoptic Tradition,"
Oxford, (1963). Read
reviews or order this book This book is out of print. However, a
used copy may be available.
Philip Yancey, "The Jesus I never knew," Zondervan, (1995). The
author was awarded the Gold Medallion Christian Book of the Year
award for this book in 1996 by the Evangelical Christian Publishers
reviews or order this book
Willimam Craig & John Crossan, "Will the Real Jesus
Please Stand Up?," Baker Book House, (1998). A debate between
Craig (conservative Christian) and Crossan (liberal Christian) about
the historical Jesus. This is a somewhat frustrating book to read
because the main participants tend to talk past each other rather than
engage in debate. But the number of real engagements between liberal
and conservative Christians are so rare, that this book is definitely
worth reading. Read
reviews or order this book
*** Books particularly recommended by the compiler of this list.