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Historical Jesus

By Stanford Continuing Studies Program

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Who was the historical Jesus of Nazareth? What did he actually say and do, as contrasted with what early Christians (e.g., Paul and the Gospel writers) believed that he said and did? What did the man Jesus actually think of himself and of his mission, as contrasted with the messianic and even divine claims that the New Testament makes about him? In short, what are the differences—and continuities—between the Jesus who lived and died in history and the Christ who lives on in believers’ faith? Over the last four decades historical scholarship on Jesus and his times—whether conducted by Jews, Christians, or non-believers—has arrived at a strong consensus about what this undeniably historical figure (born ca. 4 BCE, died ca. 30 CE) said and did, and how he presented himself and his message to his Jewish audience. Often that historical evidence about Jesus does not easily dovetail with the traditional doctrines of Christianity. How then might one adjudicate those conflicting claims? This is a course about history, not about faith or theology. It will examine the best available literary and historical evidence about Jesus and his times and will discuss methodologies for interpreting that evidence, in order to help participants make their own judgments and draw their own conclusions. Presented by the Stanford Continuing Studies Program. Released with a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.

Customer Reviews

Read the syllabus

This is a great listen, high quality, good rigorous academic look at a topic that usually involves a lot of motivated reasoning.

But read the syllabus. The episodes were all posted at the same time so they are not in the order they are supposed to be listened. There is a list of the order you’re supposed to listen in the syllabus.

Evangelizing for Jesus — Not Discussing History

In his introduction he notes that Biblical scholarship over the past 4 decades has developed a strong consensus for a historic Jesus. Huh? Exactly the opposite is true. Modern Biblical scholars along with archeologists and various historians are reaching the conclusion that the Bible is almost entirely a work of fiction. Outside of the Gospels, there is no historic evidence for Jesus or the things that supposedly transpired at that time. And the Gospels are not themselves histories. They are religious texts and do not purport to bear witness to history.

It is outrageous that Stanford University would allow religious proselytizing to replace scholarship, and furthermore to associate with a non-scholar evangelist and confer professor title upon him. SHAME!!!

Waste of Time

He makes a lot of unsubstantiated claims and argues opinions and not facts. Would be shocked if this guy was/is actually a scholar.