While the first two quests were mostly by European Protestant theologians, the third quest has seen a worldwide influx of scholars from multiple disciplines, e.g. Jewish scholars involved in historical Jesus research have contributed their detailed knowledge of Second Temple Judaism as the backdrop for the third quest. According to Mark Goodacre, “But let’s please not start talking about ‘the fourth quest’ or any similar terms. Let’s just talk about historical Jesus research and have done with it.”

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Criteria of authenticity, whose roots go back to before the pioneering work of Albert Schweitzer, have become a unifying feature of the so-called Third Quest for the Historical Jesus, finding a prominent and common place in the research of otherwise differing scholars. More recently, however, scholars from different methodological frameworks have expressed discontent with this approach to the historical Jesus. In the past five years, these expressions of discontent have reached a fever pitch.
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The internationally renowned authors of this book examine the nature of this new debate and present the findings in a cohesive way aimed directly at making the coalface of Historical Jesus research accessible to undergraduates and seminary students. The book’s larger ramifications as a thorough end to the Third Quest will provide a pressure valve for thousands of scholars who view historical Jesus studies as outmoded and misguided. This book has the potential to guide Jesus studies beyond the Third Quest and demand to be consulted by any scholar who discards, adopts, or adapts historical criteria.

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http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/third-quest-for-historical-jesus-is.html

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The Third Quest for the Historical Jesus is over

So says Craig Evans in the first of a series of posts on the Future of Historical Jesus Studies over on Near Emmaus.  I am pleased to hear this.  I have been in favour of abandoning “the third quest” of the historical Jesus for some time (see also NT Pod 49: What is the Third Quest of the Historical Jesus?).  The term has been a tough one from the start, but became increasingly so as the 1990s progressed.  But let’s please not start talking about “the fourth quest” or any similar terms.  Let’s just talk about historical Jesus research and have done.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quest_for_the_historical_Jesus#Third_quest

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A new characteristic of the modern aspects of the third quest has been the role of archeology and James Charlesworth states that few modern scholars now want to overlook the archaeological discoveries that clarify the nature of life in Galilee and Judea during the time of Jesus.  A further characteristic of the third quest has been its interdisciplinary and global nature of the scholarship.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_Jesus#The_third_quest

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The construction of specific portraits of Jesus or the analysis of the presentations of specific narratives of his life should thus be distinguished from the question of the existence of Jesus as a historical figure, and his approximate historical chronology.  Virtually all scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed.  Scholars differ on the reconstruction of specific episodes of the life of Jesus, but almost all modern scholars believe his baptism and crucifixion are historical facts.

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