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Studying the Historical Jesus

A Guide to Sources and Methods

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"An extremely readable volume, and provides very good coverage of the considerable ground that it surveys. Students will find all the chapters in the book to be a very good combination of readability and density of material."--Simon Gathercole, Themelios

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.



"This brief historical survey is first class--better than most others I have read that cover the 'Second Temple' period. I shall have no hesitation in recommending this book to my students."--David M. Jacobson, London University

The Author

  1. Darrell L. Bock

    Darrell L. Bock

    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. He is the author or...

    Continue reading about Darrell L. Bock


"All those seeking a reliable guide to the historical study of Jesus may be advised: run, don't walk, and place your order for the book Studying the Historical Jesus. As the subtitle promises, this is truly 'A Guide to Sources and Methods.' . . . Bock sorts out the historical stages of critical scholarship on the Gospels during the past two centuries, and offers a judicious assessment of the value of historical criticism, source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, tradition criticism, and narrative criticism."-R. Douglas Geivett, Christian Research Journal

"An excellent introduction to studying Jesus in the gospels and in his historical and cultural context. . . This book is the introduction to [Bock's] more detailed study of the life of Jesus entitled Jesus according to Scripture. These two books will help pastors preach and teach the life of Jesus."--Gary Gromacki, Journal of Ministry & Theology

"This work represents an introduction to gospel research from an evangelical perspective. . . . For the nonspecialist, these chapters will be very helpful in accessing the frequently obscure world of gospel scholarship. . . . A strong affirmation on the importance of the gospels as sources for recognizing and describing the historical figure of Jesus."--Douglas R. Sharp, Review and Expositor

"There are many summarizing books like this one, but anyone who tries to construct a digest of this nature should do it well. Darrell Bock does it very well. I imagine this might easily become an accepted textbook in seminaries around the world. He provides good insights into the culture, society, politics, and history of Jesus' day; a very helpful survey of all the nonbiblical literary evidence for Jesus; and a gracious and helpful survey of the various methods for studying the gospels. . . . His explanation of the three diverse 'quests' for the historical Jesus is much needed and insightful. Ten years from now we will need completely new books about these topics. That is the nature of the field. In the meantime, for the next decade you will be set with this one."--Nick Overduin, Calvin Theological Journal

"The book is an extremely readable volume, and provides very good coverage of the considerable ground that it surveys. Students will find all the chapters in the book to be a very good combination of readability and density of material."--Simon Gathercole, Themelios

"Objective, careful research of the nonbiblical evidence for Jesus complements Bock's desire to best understand the biblical text, while remaining committed to the veracity of the biblical evidence. . . . Analysis of the three quests for the historical Jesus is on target, noting the weaknesses and excesses of each quest. Higher criticisms receive a fair hearing. Although noting the extremes to which these methodologies have typically led, Bock points out the benefits well. . . . This excellent volume gives theological students a thorough immersion into the New Testament background in general and Gospel studies in particular. It can also provide a valuable review of the materials and an update of the most recent scholarly discoveries for ministers who have already completed formal theological training. Also, the footnotes are quite helpful in pointing the reader to other works for further study. Coupling this writing with a book singly focused on the Synoptic problem can provide a firm foundation in studying about Jesus."--James R. Wicker, Southwestern Journal of Theology