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A Sabbatical Report from Darrell Bock

Categories New Testament Guest Posts

Jesus Studies Report on a Major Evangelical Project

DarrellBock I am in Germany on Sabbatical in Tübingen, Germany, where I have spent threeSabbaticals in the past. I am writing a popular book on the historical Jesus due out in 2012. (Yes, it can take that long from writing to publication). The book is a report of sorts on a technical study that was already published out of Tübingen in an international NT series known by the abbreviations as the WUNT series (I'd tell you what it stands for but it is in German! The series name translates as Scientific Investigations of the New Testament).

The technical book is entitled Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus. It was a decade long project, involving over a dozen evangelical NT Jesus scholars, eleven of whom wrote articles on 12 key events in Jesus' life. There also is an essay on historiography (how to do history)  and Jesus studies. What the books do is take the normal rules of historical-critical study and make a case for the core authenticity of these key events, and then use the results to make certainpoints about who Jesus was. Where normally such study de-constructs the sources significantly, our study argues for a coherent portrait that interacts carefully with the sources and the cultural context of Jesus' ministry.


Most of the names would be familiar to students of NT study; Scot McKnight, Howard Marshall, Craig Evans, Craig Blomberg, Grant Osborne, Robert Webb, Michael Wilkins, Klyne Snodgrass, Don Hagner, and Brent Kinman. Others participated but did not write for the volume. All are members of the Institute for Biblical Research and had done technical Jesus work before participating in this effort. We call our team the IBR Jesus Group. Robert Webb and I were the coeditors of the technical volume which will appear in paperback (with another American publisher) in November. Each essay was submitted to the group in draft. Then one weekend each summer for a year we met to go through the papers line by line. A full day was taken on each essay. That study is about 850 pages.

So, now I am reducing it to around 200 pages for anyone wanting to know how historical Jesus study works when it looks at specific events (this is for yet another US publisher). The popular work is tentatively titled Jesus by the Rules (and the Rules Were Not Made by the Church).

The technical study is of interest to anyone in NT study or in ministry, especially in university contexts. The popular book will not quite be "Jesus for Dummies." My wife is reading the draft and has made that quite clear to me! However it is for anyone wanting to know what how the buzz about the historical Jesus works. After that, I go to work on a Zondervan project, a biblical theological look at Luke-Acts, for that new NT series, edited by Andreas Köstenberger.

Darrell L. Bock (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the author Luke in the NIV Application Commentary series and a forthcoming volume on Luke-Acts in the Biblical Theology of the New Testament series.

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