In Searching for Jesus Robert Hutchinson introduces readers to the latest developments in researching the historical background of Jesus. Hutchinson throughout the book interacts with previous assumptions regarding Jesus found in academia and demonstrates how the latest research gives greater credence to the veracity of the New Testament description of Jesus over and against the revisionist understandings of Jesus held by many in academic circles.
I was initially excited about this book and the possibility of recommending it to others. However after careful reading I think he makes statements which would seem to pit the Synoptic gospels and the gospel against each other as portraying a different Jesus from each other. This is seen when he says, “Even more profoundly, the Jesus depicted in the Synoptics—a very human Jesus who suffers pain, hunger, fear, and even doubt—differs radically from the portrait in John, where Jesus appears as a virtually omniscient, fearless divine being (45).” Such a statement overstates any difference in emphasis between the gospels. John presents in John 4 a Jesus who was hungry and tired, in John 10 Jesus weeps at the tomb of Lazarus. In the Synoptics you have Jesus who knows the thoughts of men’s hearts and can command a storm to cease. An odd statement is made concerning Paul and Barnabas of page 42 where he refers to Barnabas as Paul’s Gentile companion. I have reached out to the author for clarification and have received none. Acts states Barnabas was a Levite from Cypress, not a Gentile. At times he bolsters the historicity of the New Testament and at others he seems to indicate he’s not fully convinced of their truthfulness such as when he says, “I believe that the historical Jesus was very close to being what the New Testament describes him as being (268).” There is too much skepticism in that statement for my liking. While not necessarily related to his research into Jesus I am also put off by the fact that he refers to Nadia Bolz-Weber as an evangelical on page 217.
This might be helpful to some, but I would hesitate recommending this book to the average reader.
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