Jesus, Skepticism and the Problem of History: Criteria and Context in the Study of Christian Origins

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


Jesus, Skepticism and the Problem of History: Criteria and Context in the Study of Christian Origins


Edited by Darrell L. Bock and J. Ed Komoszewski (with a foreword by N.T. Wright)


Zondervan Academic (an imprint of Zondervan)

Publication Date:

October 8, 2019




304 pages


The quest to know who Jesus really was has argued and criticized many times. Some scholars think the search doesn’t accomplish much, since often involves trying to create a picture of Jesus that is different from the Gospels but somehow still accurate. Others argue that using historical research to understand what Jesus would have been like can only help Christians better understand who they are following. In this book, leading historical Jesus scholars defend and describe their field. The essays cover various topics within the field, including:

  • Summaries of recent research by evangelical scholars
  • What the neglected Gospel of John can contribute to historical Jesus studies
  • Whether scholars can really treat the Gospels as reliable sources

The final section contains responses by Scot McKnight, Nicholas Perrin, and Larry W. Hurtado, three scholars who are critical of historical Jesus scholarship.

What readers think about the search for a historical Jesus will have a big impact on how they view this book. For some, the idea is a waste of time since the Gospels are the earliest written sources on Jesus and scholars have repeatedly found them to be historically accurate. In his response, Scot McKnight makes a good case that trying to create a historically accurate portrait of Jesus which is also completely different from the Gospels ends up being a wild goose chase. However, many of the essays in this book end up actually affirming the traditional view of Jesus. Some of the writers are more critical of New Testament writers than others and many raise questions that could well be impossible to answer outside of looking at Christian tradition and Scripture. Still, when read together, the scholars end up giving readers a sense that there’s plenty to back up the Church’s traditional view of Jesus. All things considered, the search for the historical Jesus may have worthwhile insights, even if it’s often going down false trails.

A fascinating book on the latest trends in historical Jesus scholarship.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Biblical scholars interested in research into the historical Jesus and the various “quests” to further research in that area. 

Christian Impact

Scholars will be enlightened and encouraged by this book’s findings on how reliable the New Testament is and hopefully inspired to continue their own research in new directions.

Jesus, Skepticism, and the Problem of History: Criteria and Context in the Study of Christian Origins

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