by Craig L. Blomberg-
Jesus Christ has been the centerpiece of Western history for two thousand years. Yet while his followers have numbered in the millions, the movement he began has always had its critics. The most recent and best publicized of these, at least in North American academia, is a group of scholars known as the Jesus Seminar. Approximately twice a year during the 1990s, the Jesus Seminar made headlines in nationally syndicated news releases. This group of between 50-200 scholars, claiming to represent a “consensus” of the modern critical perspective on the historical Jesus, has deliberately gone out of its way to disseminate the results of its deliberations to a wide audience.
The two most detailed summaries of its findings appear in the highly –touted volumes, released in 1993 and 1998, entitled The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say?1 and The Acts of Jesus: What Did Jesus Really Do?2
These unique books print all of the passages found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas and color codes all the words in them. Red means “Jesus undoubtedly said or did this or something very like it.” Pink means “Jesus probably said or did something like this.” Gray implies “Jesus did not say or do this, but the ideas contained in it are close to his own.” Finally, black means “Jesus did not say or do this; it represents the perspective or content of a later and/or different tradition.” In between the Gospel texts, Robert Funk, formerly professor of New Testament at the University of Montana and the mastermind behind the project, provides commentary on why the Seminar voted as it did in each case. Space permits consideration of only the first volume, but many of the critiques could equally apply to the second.
One reason The Five Gospels has received so much attention is because it colors less than 20 percent of all the sayings attributed to Jesus either red or pink, and well over half appear in black. In the entire Gospel of Mark, there is only one red-letter verse: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mark 12:17).3 Only fifteen sayings (not counting parallels) are colored red in all of the Gospels put together, and they are all short, pithy “aphorisms” (unconventional proverb-like sayings) or parables (particularly the more “subversive” ones). Examples of the former include Jesus’ commands to turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:39; Luke 6:29) and love your enemies (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27), and his blessing on the poor (Luke 6:20, Thos. 54). Examples of the latter include the parables of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35), the shrewd manager (Luke 16:1-8a), and the vineyard laborers (Matt. 20:1-15). Seventy-five different sayings are colored pink, while at the other end of the color spectrum, several hundred appear in black, including virtually the entire Gospel of John and all of Jesus’ claims about himself (e.g., “I am the way and the truth and the life”—John 14:6; “I and the Father are one”—10:30; and so on).4
What has led to such scholarly skepticism? Have there been some new finds in the Judean desert, to cast doubts on traditional Christianity? No, not at all! For the most part, the Jesus Seminar does not reflect either responsible scholarship or critical consensus, and it is a pity that many in the media have allowed themselves to be deceived by its claims to the contrary. In many ways, The Five Gospels is an anomaly even among non-evangelical New Testament scholars and a throwback to nineteenth-century methods and conclusions.5 Far more accepted and acceptable is a movement within contemporary research that has become known as the “third quest” for the historical Jesus,6 though even this movement stops short of affirming historic orthodox Christian beliefs about Jesus.
How should thoughtful people respond? What are the objections that modern scholars have posed to accepting all of the Gospel record as historically trustworthy, and are those objections well founded? We will examine the methods and assumptions of the Jesus Seminar and show that their skepticism is unwarranted and that historic Christian confidence in the reliability of the Gospels remains defensible.
Who are they?
Because The Five Gospels is one of the most widely publicized of recent discussions about the historical Jesus, and because their work on the deeds of Christ has also recently been published (as noted above), we must begin with the Jesus Seminar. Although this work repeatedly claims to reflect a consensus of modern scholars, this claim is simply false, even if one leaves all evangelical scholars to one side. Of the seventy-four “Fellows” of the Seminar, as they are called,7 about fourteen of them are among the leading names in the field of historical Jesus scholarship today (e.g., John Dominic Crossan of DePaul University and Marcus Borg of Oregon State University). Roughly another twenty names are recognizable to New Testament scholars who keep abreast of their field, even if they are not as widely published. These, too, include several who have written important works on the ancient traditions about Jesus, particularly in various non-canonical gospels (e.g., Marvin Meyer of Chapman University and Karen King of Occidental College).
The remaining forty, or more than half of the entire Seminar as of 1993, were relative unknowns. Most had published at best two or three journal articles, while several were recent Ph.D.’s whose dissertations were on some theme of the Gospels. For a full eighteen of the Fellows, a computer search in the mid-1990s of two comprehensive databases of published books and articles8 turned up no entries relevant to the New Testament at all! Thirty-six of the group, almost half, have a degree from or were then teaching at one of three schools—Harvard, Claremont, and Vanderbilt, universities with some of the most liberal departments of New Testament studies anywhere. Almost all are American; European scholarship is barely represented.
In short, the Jesus Seminar does not come close to reflecting an adequate cross-section of contemporary New Testament scholars.9 These remarks are not meant to be taken in an ad hominem fashion, nor are they offered as a substitute for a detailed analysis and critique of the points they raise. Rather, they are meant as a response to the false but widespread perception that the ideas propagated by the Jesus Seminar represent the views of the majority of experts who are in a privileged position to know and disseminate the real facts to the public.
What’s wrong with what they believe?
Not only are the individual Fellows not representative of scholarship at large, neither are their methods or their conclusions. We highlight six major areas in which few other reputable scholars (evangelical or otherwise) would follow the Seminar’s leading, along with some of the reasons why this is so.
First, they establish far too restrictive principles for the forms of speech Jesus could have used. If an utterance is neither a parable nor an aphorism, they claim that Jesus did not speak it.10 If a saying cannot be separated from its context so that it could have been preserved as an independent oral tradition, it cannot be colored red or pink.11 In other words, Jesus never composed full-length sermons, and he never engaged in dialogue or controversy with others. He probably said something as he healed or exorcised people or worked other wondrous feats. But we have no way of knowing what that was, because such words are inseparable from their contexts, and the early church couldn’t possibly have remembered a whole story about Jesus.12
These assertions, made repeatedly throughout The Five Gospels, are difficult to fathom. No other scholarship on Jesus, or on any other religious teacher for that matter, imposes such stringent restrictions. No sage in the history of the world is so limited in the forms of speech he or she could possibly have employed—not Buddha, not Confucius, not Mohammed, not even the modern avant-garde writers like Franz Kafka, with whom Jesus is often favorably compared in these circles.
Second, the Seminar is equally restrictive in the topics that it permits Jesus to address. Supposedly, Jesus never quoted Scripture or compared his teaching to that of the laws of Moses.13 He never even hinted that he might consider himself some kind of Messiah,14 though plenty of others in his day made messianic claims. He never called himself the Son of Man15 (the most common title ascribed to him on the pages of the Gospels), even though this term is used differently in the Gospels than among most Jewish writers, and even though subsequent New Testament and later Christian writers hardly ever used it. He never predicted the future, never envisioned his coming crucifixion, and never spoke about God’s judgment (a horrible concept unworthy of a great sage).16
Again, these assertions are groundless affirmations that the vast majority of scholars roundly reject. Even those who see no inkling of the supernatural in Jesus’ life acknowledge that he set himself on a collision course with the authorities that many people could have predicted, that judgment was a major topic of conversation in the Jewish world of his day, that “Son of Man” is likely to be the most authentic of all of the titles for Christ in anywhere the Gospels, and that it would be natural for him to have seen himself as a special envoy of God in some sense.17
Third, and closely related to the previous two observations, the Seminar’s Jesus simply is not sufficiently Jewish to be a historically credible figure. Instead, the Fellows envision a Jesus who resembles an itinerant Greco-Roman philosopher, a Cynic sage, or an Oriental guru—and an unusual kind: one who spoke only in short, cryptic utterances.18 Any time his teaching finds partial parallels in the words of other Jewish teachers of antiquity, his words are dismissed as inauthentic and relegated to “the fund of common lore.”19 All of this, while the rest of the scholarly world is increasingly stressing the necessity of recovering Jesus the Jew, who engaged in debates about ritual cleanliness, Sabbath observance, and the application of Torah in the messianic age!20 Whatever else modern scholarship may disagree on, there is widespread consensus that Jesus must be read against the historical-cultural milieu of his world, a milieu that was above all Jewish. This the Jesus Seminar simply does not do.
Fourth, there is no convincing reason left in the Seminar’s Jesus for his death as a criminal by crucifixion. How did a simple speaker of proverbs and parables ever alienate the Jewish and Roman authorities of his day to such an extent that he was executed in so gruesome a fashion? Again, there is almost unanimous agreement, including among the Seminar’s Fellows, that Jesus died on the cross. But their exceedingly eccentric, somewhat pacifist, Jesus never once suspects that he might be angering others or endangering his life and does absolutely nothing to provoke such hostility. As John Meier, one of America’s leading Jesus scholars, representing a moderate
Roman Catholic perspective, observes wryly:
A tweedy poetaster who spent his time spinning out parables and Japanese koans, a literary aesthete who toyed with 1st-century deconstructionism, or a bland Jesus who simply told people to look at the lilies of the field—such a Jesus would threaten no one, just as the university professors who create him threaten no one.21
Unfortunately, many people who have not studied much biblical scholarship do not realize that these professors pose no objective threat, and so they wrongly imagine that Christian faith has indeed been undermined
Fifth, after ignoring Jesus’ Jewish roots, the Seminar would have us believe that later Christians re-Judaized him. That is to say, Jesus was originally just a noteworthy teacher of wisdom, a “laconic sage” whose closest counterparts were to be found in the itinerant Cynics of the Greco-Roman world—wandering rebels notorious for flouting the conventions of society, living simply or even in poverty, and calling others to join them in radical freedom from the world. But a generation later, the wisdom traditions of the Gospels were overlaid with apocalyptic traditions—teachings attributed to Jesus about the destruction of the temple, the end of the world, and God’s judgment.22 This hypothesis, however, inverts the actual sequence of the development of early Christianity, which spread from the Jewish world to the Greco-Roman world. The older liberal consensus that the New Testament successively transformed Jesus from an apocalyptic Jewish preacher, who thought God would soon intervene to bring about the end of the world, into a Hellenistic divine man or god had its problems too, but at least it meshed with the direction of the spread of the gospel—from Jerusalem to Greece and Rome. This newer view would make sense only if Jesus had lived and taught somewhere outside of Palestine, and then left the second generation of Christianity to take his message to the Jewish world.
The inversion of wisdom and apocalyptic also presupposes a “revolutionary” rather than an “evolutionary” development of the gospels.23 That is to say, it requires the assumption that someone, about a generation removed from the events in question, radically transformed the authentic information about Jesus that was circulating at that time, superimposed a body of material four times as large, fabricated almost entirely out of whole cloth, while the church suffered sufficient collective amnesia to accept the transformation as legitimate. Claremont University professor Burton Mack has written two major works that propose precisely this thesis, with Mark being the primary instigator of the distortion of the true picture of Jesus.24 Unfortunately for his argument, there is no known parallel in the history of religion to such a radical transformation of a famous teacher or leader in so short a period of time, namely, during the lives of eyewitnesses of his or her life and work, and no identifiable stimulus among the followers of Jesus sufficient to create such a change.
The sixth and final way the Jesus Seminar is idiosyncratic within contemporary scholarship may be the most significant of all. One of the major reasons the Fellows believe that Jesus the sage preceded Jesus the apocalyptic prophet is because they are convinced that the Gospel of Thomas contains numerous independent traditions about the historical Jesus that are at least as reliable, if not more so, than those found in the canonical Gospels. They suggest a date for this document as early as A.D. 50-60, earlier than Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.25 And Thomas’s picture of Jesus is largely that of one who utters wise but cryptic teachings, never calls himself Son of Man, rarely introduces apocalyptic themes, and performs no mighty deeds (precisely because the document contains almost no narrative framework to link its 114 sayings of Jesus together). But which is more likely—that Thomas came first or last among the five Gospels? This question demands more detailed exploration.
What should we make of the Gospel of Thomas?
The Gospel of Thomas was discovered just after World War II at Nag Hammadi in Egypt among a collection of Gnostic writings. Gnosticism was an ancient Middle-Eastern religious philosophy with many variations, but unified at least in its commitment to a dualism between the material and immaterial worlds. The creation of the universe, in Gnostic mythologies, more often than not was the product of the rebellion of some “emanation” from the godhead. Matter, therefore, was inherently evil; only the world of the spirit was redeemable. Consequently, Gnostics looked forward to immortality of a disembodied soul, not the resurrection of the body. Salvation for them was accomplished by understanding secret or esoteric knowledge (in Greek, gnosis), which most of the world did not and could not know. Hence, the Gnostic libraries contained numerous documents that purported to be secret revelations of the risen Lord to this or that disciple, usually after Jesus’ resurrection.
The Gospel of Thomas is no exception. Its opening line reads, “These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down.”26
Written in Coptic and dating to no earlier than A.D. 400, the Nag Hammadi version of this Gospel contains parallels to Greek fragments of an unknown document of late second-century vintage that were discovered about a hundred years ago. In other words, the document may have first been written as early as about A.D. 150, but no actual evidence permits us to push that a century earlier as the Jesus Seminar does. Roughly one-third of the sayings in the Gospel of Thomas are clearly Gnostic in nature, between one-third and one-half are paralleled fairly closely in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, and the remaining sayings are not demonstrably unorthodox but could lend themselves to Gnostic interpretations. After the Coptic Gospel of Thomas was discovered and scholars had had time to analyze it in detail, a fair consensus emerged that it postdated the canonical Gospels and relied heavily on them for those passages that were paralleled there.27 Four reasons proved particularly persuasive.
(1) Parallels emerged in Thomas to every one of the four Gospels and to every “layer” of the Gospel tradition—that is, to material common to all three Synoptic Gospels, information from “Q” (the conventional abbreviation for the hypothetical source—German Quelle—that probably accounts for material shared by Matthew and Luke), and traditions unique to each of the four Gospels. It seems unlikely that every Gospel and every Gospel source would independently use Thomas at an early date; rather, it is far more probable that Thomas knew and relied on the later fourfold Gospel collection.28
(2) Within Thomas itself, various series of sayings reflect how Jesus’ original words underwent development in a Gnosticizing direction. For example, Sayings 73-75 read:
(73) Jesus said, “The harvest is great but the laborers are few. Beseech the lord, therefore, to send out laborers to the harvest.” (74) He said, “O lord, there are many around the drinking trough, but there is nothing in the cistern.” (75) Jesus said, “Many are standing at the door, but it is the solitary who will enter the bridal chamber.”
The first of these texts closely resembles Matthew 9:37-38 and Luke 10:2. The second passage can be taken to make a similar point—Christ’s followers should be recognizing, but are not, where true spiritual maturity would lead them; this saying has no canonical parallel. The final saying makes the same point a third way but uses two technical terms that recur in Gnostic literature for the true Gnostic (the solitary one) and his initiation into a “deeper life” (entering the bridal suite). It is easy to see how Jesus’ original teaching
was successively adapted, and not likely that any one of these sayings predates the version in Matthew and Luke.29
(3) Some sayings in Thomas seem to follow each other for no reason other than that is their sequence in the Synoptic Gospels. For example, Saying 65 gives a version of the parable of the wicked tenants (cf. Mark 12:1-8 pars.), which Saying 66 follows up with a version of Jesus’ teaching about the “cornerstone” (cf. Mark 12:10-11). But without anything corresponding to Mark 12:9 to connect the two sayings, no one would guess they were related. It is more probable, therefore, that Thomas knew the Synoptics but omitted the connection (as this work does throughout in listing sayings in isolation from each other) than that Mark or someone else created a connected narrative out of two originally independent thoughts.30
(4) Many minor distinctives of the Coptic translation of the Gospel of Thomas parallel alterations of the Gospel tradition found in later second- through fourth-century documents, including Coptic translations of the canonical Gospels.31 Others parallel developments of the canonical tradition in the late second-century harmony of the Gospels known as the Diatessaron, in literature attributed to the early church father Clement of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 200), and in sixth-century textual variants of the Gospel manuscripts. A good example is found in Thomas’s version of the parable of the dragnet, which has the fishermen keeping only one “fine, large fish” and throwing back into the sea all of the other smaller fish (Thos. 8). Not only does this reinterpretation of Jesus’ original (Matt. 13:47-50) reflect Gnostic elitism, it also parallels Clement’s later adaptation of this parable, in which a fisherman keeps one “choice” (lit., “elect”) fish for himself out of all that he catches (Strom. 95.3).32
The cumulative effect of these and other arguments led Robert Grant and David Freedman, two of the past generation’s leading New and Old Testament scholars respectively, to conclude already over forty years ago that Thomas was substantially later than and dependent on our four canonical Gospels. Thomas’s lack of historical narrative and lack of apocalyptic reflects the Gnostic worldview, which cares nothing for God acting in history to redeem the world. The Gospel of Thomas is an important historical source—but for Gnosticism, not for Christianity. Or, more precisely,
It is probably our most significant witness to the early perversion of Christianity by those who wanted to create Jesus in their own image. Thus it stands, like Lot’s wife, as a new but permanently valuable witness to men’s desire to make God’s revelation serve them. Ultimately it testifies not to what Jesus said but to what men wished he had said.33
Several important recent studies concur.34 Scholars in general are a little more open today to the idea of some traditions making their way into Thomas that were independent of the canonical Gospels (e.g., the otherwise unattested parables of the empty jar and the assassin [Thos. 97-98]), but few would date the entire document to the first century.35 John Meier again reflects a more sober approach when he concludes, “Since I think that the Synoptic-like sayings of the Gospel of Thomas are in fact dependent on the Synoptic Gospels and that the other sayings stem from 2d-century Christian Gnosticism, the Gospel of Thomas will not be used in our quest as an independent source for the historical Jesus.”36 It should not be used in anybody’s quest, except perhaps for a saying here or there.
All of the above observations demonstrate the extreme idiosyncrasies of the Jesus Seminar and cast serious doubt on their claims to speak for a consensus of modern scholars. Attention needs to be devoted instead to a much more promising and substantial development in studying the historical Jesus to which we alluded earlier, namely, the so-called “third quest” for the historical Jesus.37 AJ
Craig L. Blomberg is Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary. This article is an abridgment of portions of his essay, “Where Do We Start Studying Jesus?” previously published in Jesus Under Fire, eds. Michael J. Wilkins and J.P. Moreland (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 17-50. Used by permission of author and publisher.
1 Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say? (New York: Macmillan, 1993), 36.
2 Robert W. Funk and the Jesus Seminar, The Acts of Jesus: What Did Jesus Really Do? (HarperCollins, 1998).
3 All Bible quotations in this article follow the NIV.
4 For a complete list of “Voting Records Sorted by Weighted Average,” see Forum 6 (1990): 139-91. Counting paralleled sayings once for every gospel in which they appear, a total of 1544 items are catalogued: 31 red, 211 pink, 416 gray, and 886 black.
5 See Michael J. Wilkins and J.P. Moreland, “Introduction: The Furor Surrounding Jesus,” in Jesus Under Fire, eds. Michael J. Wilkins and J.P. Moreland (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 1-15.
6 I discuss the nature of the third quest in my “Where Do We Start Studying Jesus?” in Jesus Under Fire, 25-28.
7 Their names, positions, and degrees are listed in an appendix in Funk, Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, Five Gospels, 533-37.
8 Specifically, the January 1993 CD-ROM of the American Theological Library Association, which indexes all articles in journals or multiauthor works listed in Religion Indexes One and Two, two standard indexes of articles in the field; and the April 1994 edition of the On-Line Computer Library Center, the comprehensive database of books available for interlibrary loan in North America, including all major theological libraries.
9 Far more representative is the anthology of essays: Bruce Chilton and Craig A. Evans, eds. Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research (Leiden: Brill, 1994).
10 E.g., Funk, Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, Five Gospels, 62, 461.
11 E.g., ibid., 60, 70-71.
12 E.g., ibid., 42. Cf. Robert W. Funk with Mahlon H. Smith, The Gospel of Mark: Red Letter Edition (Sonoma, Calif.: Polebridge, 1991), 40, 48.
13 E.g., ibid., 126, 178.
14 E.g., ibid., 105, 124.
15 E.g., ibid., 180, 303.
16 E.g., ibid., 151, 181, 318.
17 Cf., e.g., James H. Charlesworth, Jesus Within Judaism (New York: Doubleday, 1988); and many of the volumes surveyed in his appendix, “A New Trend: Jesus Research,” 187-207.
18 For a book-length unpacking of this kind of Jesus by one of the cochairs of the Jesus Seminar, see John D. Crossan, The Historical Jesus (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991). Crossan has popularized his findings in Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994). Less radical but still more in this camp than in line with the rest of the “third quest” is Marcus J. Borg, Jesus: A New Vision (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987). 19 E.g., Funk, Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, Five Gospels, 180, 182, 354.
20 Cf., e.g., John K. Riches, Jesus and the Transformation of Judaism (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1980); Donald A. Hagner, The Jewish Reclamation of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984); Geza Vermes, The Religion of Jesus the Jew (London: SCM, 1993). 21 John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, vol. 1 (New York: Doubleday, 1991), 177.
22 Funk, Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, Five Gospels, 32-33; cf. Funk with Smith, Mark, 13. For a book-length explanation of how these two stages allegedly affected a substantial body of early traditions about Jesus’ sayings, see John S. Kloppenborg, The Formation of Q (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987). For more standard and widely accepted perspectives on the composition of this hypothetical document (Q is the term used to designate the material that is common to Matthew and Luke and is not in Mark), see David R. Catchpole, The Quest for Q (Edinburgh: Clark, 1993).
23 Larry W. Hurtado, “The Gospel of Mark: Evolutionary or Revolutionary?” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 40 (1990): 15-32.
24 Burton L. Mack, A Myth of Innocence (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988); idem, The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993).
25 Funk with Smith, Mark, 15. For a book-length defense of this position, see Stevan Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom (New York: Seabury, 1983).
26 All translations of Thomas are taken from The Nag Hammadi Library in English, 3d ed., ed. James M. Robinson (Leiden: Brill, 1988). For a balanced introduction to Gnosticism and its relevance for New Testament studies, see Robert McL. Wilson, Gnosis and the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968). For a more recent report on the “state of the art,” cf. Pheme Perkins, Gnosticism and the New Testament (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993).
27 For a good introduction to Thomas and a reflection of this early consensus, see Robert M. Grant and David N. Freedman, The Secret Sayings of Jesus (New York: Doubleday, 1960).
28 Robert McL. Wilson, Studies in the Gospel of Thomas (London: Mowbray, 1960), 73.
29 Cf. Jacques É. Ménard, L’Évangile selon Thomas (Leiden: Brill, 1975), 173-75.
30 Cf. Klyne Snodgrass, The Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Tübingen: Mohr, 1983), 41-71.
31A point demonstrated in detail, with only slight overstatement, by Wolfgang Schrage, Das Verhältnis des Thomas-Evangeliums zur synoptischen Tradition und zu den koptischen Evangelien-Übersetzungen (Berlin: Töpelmann, 1964).
32 Cf. further Hans-Werner Bartsch, “Das Thomas-Evangelium and die synoptische Evangelien,” New Testament StudiesNew Testament Studies 61.
33 Grant and Freedman, Secret Sayings, 20.
34 See esp., Michael Fieger, Das Thomasevangelium: Einleitung, Kommentar und Systematik (Münster: Aschendorff, 1991); Christopher M. Tuckett, “Thomas and the Synoptics,” Novum Testamentum 30 (1988): 132-57; and James H. Charlesworth and Craig A. Evans, “Jesus in the Agrapha and Apocryphal Gospels,” in Chilton and Evans, Studying the Historical Jesus, 496-503 (cf. 479-95 and 503-33 for related materials).
35Representative of this balanced perspective is Bruce Chilton, “The Gospel According to Thomas as a Source of Jesus’ Teaching,” in Gospel Perspectives, vol. 5, ed. David Wenham (Sheffield: JSOT, 1985), 155-75.
36Meier, Marginal Jew, 139.
37 The next issue of Areopagus Journal (July-August, 2003) will feature an article by Craig A. Evans exploring what we can know about Jesus using the methods of the “third quest” for the historical Jesus.