Why historical Jesus research matters

An extract from an essay I have just completed for a forthcoming collection edited my colleague, J. Harold Ellens:

I am seriously interested in what Jesus may have done about certain issues we face as humans. I doubt that we can answer such a question with precision and certainty. But I am convinced that applying our best efforts to such a project is one way to grasp that deep wisdom needed if we are to shape lives that are ‘holy’ and ‘true.’ This is not because we shall discover exactly what Jesus might have thought or done about some issue. Rather, it is because—in the process of reflecting deeply on the problem—we may just discover what we need to do about that issue. And that, I suspect, is what Jesus wants most of all—not imitation, but a sustained effort to practice the kind of faith he seems to have found, and to live with the kind of wisdom that he seems to have embodied, and in the end to die with the kind of integrity that he seems to have demonstrated.

The full essay will appear as:

“Imagine this: Jesus and the kingdom of God.” in Winning Revolutions: The Psychology of Successful Revolts for Freedom, Fairness, and Rights. Ed. J. Harold Ellens. 3 Vols. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2012.

I wonder why other people pursue the quest for the historical Jesus?

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  1. The little excerpt you gave us is a gem to start the creative thinking needed for a church service I have been asked to conduct.
    Thank you,

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