Basic Question: The deeper they dig for the historical Jesus, said one speaker in the documentary, From Jesus to Christ, scholars find a plurality of figures. (See Jesus' Many Faces) The result is a variety of images such as:
For a discussion of some of these images read The Complexity of Jesus' Religious Identity.
Which one is the real Jesus? We will find, by reading Pelikan's first chapter, Ehrman, chapters 8-12, and by listening to scholars in the videotape documentary and online, that people can agree on certain historical facts but disagree on how to interpret them. In this week's classes, sift through the materials and decide for yourselves what image best fits the "Real Jesus" as you trace his life between the two historical events that Ehrman agrees are basic to Jesus as a historical figure:
Between those two events, Jesus taught, healed, attracted crowds, made enemies, and was executed. As you work through the materials, notice how historians try to reconstruct that life and what issues they have to confront.
Notice how Ehrman presents the events that make up the story of Jesus' life, how he weighs evidence, and he reaches conclusions about who Jesus was.
FINAL CRISIS AND EXECUTION
Arrest and Crucifixion Note how these scholars in the documentary discuss the final crisis in Jesus' life. Where are they in agreement, disagreement? What do you find most persuasive as you look at the evidence?
THE MAJOR HISTORICAL QUESTION: WHY WAS JESUS KILLED?
HOSTILE GROUPS: Who were Jesus' enemies?
POLITICAL SUBVERSIVE ?
Gospels passages: The Passion narratives
RELIGIOUS SUBVERSIVE ?
Gospel passages presenting his teaching and actions
Wisdom vs. Conventional Wisdom
Reconstructing Jesus' Life: Limits of the Historical Project