There are quite a few different ideas about the “Historical Jesus”. I run into people who know just one of them and think it’s the only one. Almost always they’re surprised and disappointed that this is an open question.
- Reza Aslan. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Random House, 2013.
- John Dominic Crossan. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. HarperOne, 1991, 1993.
- Bart D. Ehrman. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. HarperOne, 2014. “Ehrman sketches Jesus’s transformation from a human prophet to the Son of God exalted to divine status at his resurrection.”
- José Faur. The Gospel According to The Jews. Moreshet Sepharad, 2012. This is the lightweight in the bunch.
- Richard Smoley. How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really Saying About God and the Bible. Tarcher Perigree, 2016. Smoley thinks Jesus was a preacher, and maybe saw himself as the Messiah, but definitely was not political.
Me, I’m not much of a believer. I tell people I didn’t get the True Believer gene. I think most people in my generation will get that cultural references. Younger folks, probably not.
Another way of saying the same thing is “Neither accept nor reject.” That’s supposed to be an old saying but I hear it only rarely. Maybe.