Item description for Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods by Darrell L. Bock...
Overview Introduces the sources of our knowledge about Jesus, surveying the history and culture of his times, and presents some of the methods used to study the Gospels, including historical, redaction, and narrative criticism.
Publishers Description Interest in the historical Jesus continues to occupy much of today's discussion of the Bible. The vexing question is how the Jesus presented in the Gospels relates to the Jesus that actually walked this earth. " Studying the Historical Jesus" is an introductory guide to how one might go about answering that question by doing historical inquiry into the material found in the Gospels. Darrell Bock introduces the sources of our knowledge about Jesus, both biblical and extra-biblical. He then surveys the history and culture of the world of Jesus. The final chapters introduce some of the methods used to study the Gospels, including historical, redaction, and narrative criticisms. Bock, a well respected author, provides an informed evangelical alternative to radical projects like the Jesus Seminar. His audience, however, is not limited only to evangelicals. This book, written for college and seminary courses, offers an informed scholarly approach that takes the Gospels seriously as a source of historical information.
Citations And Professional Reviews Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods by Darrell L. Bock has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Choice - 12/01/2002 page 645
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Darrell L. Bock (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is executive director for cultural engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas, where he also serves as senior research professor of New Testament studies. Benjamin I. Simpson (PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary) is assistant professor of New Testament studies and director of resource development at the Washington, DC, campus of Dallas Theological Seminary.
Reviews - What do customers think about Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods?
Wish I had this when I was starting out Feb 25, 2008
This is one very handy book. If you know very little about biblical scholarship, it fills in all the gaps and tells you about the scholarship of the last few centuries. It's also invaluable for anyone who simply needs to find some information quickly.
For example, who was the fist person to comment on the dating of Mark? "Irenaeus...places the composition after the death of Peter and Paul in the late 60s, while Clement of Alexandria looks to a date during Peter and Paul's time in Rome, which would push the date back into the 50s" (p 29), Or when was Luke first cited? In 1 Clement.
What about the nonbiblical evidence? About the debated "Chrestus" mention, Bock points out that "The confusion may come from the name Chrestiani, a vulgar form of the name for Christians" (p 48). He goes through all the complications of trying to date the birth of Jesus. He includes all the problems of dating the census, even pointing out that "the term translated 'first' in Luke 2-2 could be rendered 'before' (as in John 15-18) in which case only one census is alluded to here, the later on from AD 6" (p 70).
He also covers the history of the period, social background, and then, in the last half of the book, delves into the past few centuries of the hunt for the historical Jesus. What have two centuries found, have they managed to tease out the actual historical Jesus or not? He explains what has been called the three quests for the historical Jesus, and tells you who the main players were, and what has been the judgment about their theories.
Whether you are starting out or an old hand at bible studies, this is a great book.
level headed historical jesus study Mar 5, 2007
this introductory work, written by an intelligent, respected conservative christian new testament scholar, is a helpful book for getting into several issues dealing with historical Jesus study. The book is developed along two main headings, Jesus in His cultural context and Methods for studying the gospels. Each heading is further subdivided into chapters getting into the details. Covers literary evidence for Jesus, biblical and non-biblical, political and sociocultural history of the new testament era, historical Jesus quests, historical criticism, source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, tradition criticism, narrative criticism and gospel genre. At a little over 200 pages, there is plenty of detail to go through, and it is presented in a well researched manner. It's obvious that the author has done his homework. This book is introductory though, and it does not cover all the necessary bases, it covers many, and covers them quite well, it does not so much deal with the theological/spiritual content of Jesus and his meaning, it touches on this here and there a bit, but this work mainly sets out to deal with methods of studying Jesus historically, i.e., the sources and how they are used. This is definitely a good addition to add to one's list of works to be consulted for Jesus studies! Some other very helpful works not to be missed are: R.T. France- The Evidence For Jesus, Michael McClymond- Familiar Stranger:An Introduction To Jesus of Nazareth, Peter Walker- Jesus and His World, Craig Blomberg- Jesus and The Gospels, Robert Stein- Jesus the Messiah: A Survey of The Life of Christ, Tom Wright- The Original Jesus.
An Introduction to Jesus Jul 3, 2005
If you are interested in learning about the historical Jesus, this book might be the best place to start. Darrell Bock, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, presents a concise introduction to the background material you'll need to study Jesus. Prof. Bock reviews the references to Jesus outside of the NT, the chronology of Jesus' life, methods of interpretation, and the history, sociology and politics of Palestine. There is also a good discussion of the various quests for Jesus. The approach is conservative, but not uncritically so.
It's important to realize that this book is introductory in nature. Some of the discussion is rather thin. As an example, Prof. Bock discusses Jewish Midrash, but makes no mention of its role in interpretation, e.g. the claim of Gundry and others that the infancy narratives are Midrash. If you've read one or two New Testament introductions, you probably won't learn too much new.
A defence on two fronts Jun 7, 2005
In *Studying the Historical Jesus* Darrell Bock has written a primer for his students at Dallas Theological Seminary, one that is also useful to interested readers in general. In a sense, the book provides a defense on two fronts of the historical study of Jesus: against the unfounded belief that it throws doubt on the truths of Scripture, and against excessive skepticism about the historicity of the Gospel accounts, such as many critics have engaged in since the Enlightenment.
As he notes, "[W]e must differentiate between what we know from history and the text and the way we reconstruct history. ... rather than applying our doubt to the text, there is nothing wrong in examining carefully our own understanding in studying the text." (159) Thus, the book is in two parts:
(1) A brief presentation of the sources of our knowledge and of "what we know from history and the text." The premise is our need to understand the social and cultural environment in which Jesus lived and in which the Gospels were written, and the historical background of the Jews prior to and including the time of Jesus that led to fervent messianic expectations. In the Introduction, under Greek Biblical Sources, Bock includes a survey of the content, themes and introductory issues pertaining to the four Gospels; in the conclusion to the whole book he expresses "confidence that the Gospels are a solid source of information."
(2) An equally brief examination of the different critical methods, their strengths and weaknesses, that scholars use in reconstructing the history behind the Gospels and how the Gospels came to be in their present form. After an introductory section, there is a chapter on the three quests for the historical Jesus, in which Bock notes that the third quest does not supersede the second but runs alongside it - the third quest "works more seriously with Jewish backgrounds" (147). A chapter on historical criticism sets the stage for the following chapters on source, form, redaction, and tradition criticisms. The final chapter on narrative criticism and the Gospel genre is different in that the topics are subsumed under literary criticism and considerations, not historical criticism.
The concise discussions drive the curious reader to reach out for more, aided by bibliographic footnotes; nonetheless, it is surprising how much information this introductory work imparts. Bock is an experienced writer; he adds interest to his prose by avoiding generalities (most of time), linking names and dates to hypotheses and methods, and relating seemingly ho-hum social, economic and geographic details to what we read in the Gospels. So, for example, not only do the hills of Galilee reach 2000 to 4000 feet above sea level while the Sea of Galilee is 685 feet below sea level, but also: "This dramatic drop-off explains the weather in some events in Jesus' ministry as he was on the Sea of Galilee. Winds can rush down with a tunnel effect... resulting in huge, dangerous storms." (113) Who after this would not want to read again the passage about Jesus and the disciples as they crossed the lake to "the other side" (Mark 4:35-41 & parallels)?
In the Preface, Dr. Bock says only time will tell whether he had succeeded in what he set out to accomplish in writing the book. This is one affirmative vote.
An Excellent Place to Start Studying the "Historical Jesus" Aug 23, 2004
Bock is a respected, conservative New Testament scholar. In Studying the Historical Jesus, he offers one of the most accessible introductions to the study of the "Historical" Jesus. If you have simply read your New Testament your entire life and are now curious about its background, origins, and the history behind it. Or if you have had little exposure to the New Testament and wonder what it is all about, historically speaking. This book delivers.
The Introduction opens with brief discussions of sources relevant to the study of the historical Jesus, including the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, the Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, and Josephus. Each is only a few paragraphs long but explains well the source and its relevance to studying Jesus. The main event of the Introduction, however, is his run down on each of the Canonical Gospels. Bock delivers solid discussions of each, including their structure, unique emphasis, authorship, and date. Not surprisingly, Bock's conclusions are traditional.
Bock also delivers a chapter on the Nonbiblical evidence for Jesus, ably covering the "usual suspects" of Josephus, Thallus, Tacitus, and company. Next there is an informative discussion about the chronology of Jesus' life. Bock nondogmatically discusses the various alternatives about when Jesus was born, how long his ministry was, and the date of his death. Thereafter, Bock delivers a helpful general history of the Greek and Roman empires, and then a more focused discussion on the geography, population, and culture of first century Palestine.
In Part 2 of his book, Bock moves into a more argumentative tone as he discusses and criticizes the search for the "historical Jesus." There is a helpful history highlighting the key players and their theories in the three "quests" for the historical Jesus. Bock then summarizes five systemic problems in historical Jesus research, including an undue skepticism of narratives or sayings that are similar to Old Testament narratives and sayings, and inadequate historical attention being given to Luke's special material, Matthew's special material, and the Gospel of John. The criticisms are well taken and receive insufficient consideration in most New Testament research.
Next Bock devotes chapters to several methods of historical inquiry as applied to the New Testament: Historical Criticism, Source Criticism, Form Criticism, Redaction Criticism, Tradition Criticism, and Narrative Criticism and Gospel Genre. The discussions are well done, defining each as well as emphasizing the strengths and weaknesses inherent to each disciple. Bock is no reactionary. He sees a role for each in researching and understanding the New Testament and Jesus, but appropriately chides much modern "historical Jesus" studies as overly skeptical.
In sum, Bock has delivered an excellent resource for those interested in looking into the unfamiliar ground of New Testament criticism or studying the "historical" Jesus. Indeed, this would be one of the first books I would recommend to any such person.