The New Quest for the Historical Jesus (July 2022)

Organizers & Sponsors

Chris Keith, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society

James Crossley, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society

Joshua Scott, Enoch Seminar Secretary (Event Technical Moderator)

Sponsored by The Centre for the Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements (CenSAMM), Eerdmans Publishing, and the Enoch Seminar


Purpose of the New Quest

The twentieth-century Quest for the historical Jesus has stagnated. The so-called criteria of authenticity have been successfully challenged, leaving a previously well-trodden path now largely abandoned. The implicit anti-Judaism of the so-called “Jewishness of Jesus” debate has likewise been exposed. And it is now increasingly clear that the continual referral to the main scholarship of yesteryear (in particular the works of E. P. Sanders and John P. Meier) has restricted the discussion and caused scholars to overlook innovative approaches. The Next Quest for the Historical Jesus breathes fresh air into the discussion. This research project and resulting edited volume will serve as a touchstone for the more innovative approaches that have been overlooked in previous quests and are now emerging and taking full height, as well as chart other possibilities for future contributions. We imagine and deliver a new quest, the Next Quest for the Historical Jesus, which will foundationally be a curious quest, a broader quest, a wide-open quest, and one that explicitly links Jesus studies to the Humanities and brings it up-to-date as a subfield within them. In the Next Quest for the Historical Jesus, we move beyond searching for an uninterpreted reality “behind” the texts and hypothesize the historical Jesus by means of the cultural and historical processes by which particular images of Jesus were produced and transmitted.

The core, identifying, feature of the Next Quest for the historical Jesus is not a methodology per se, but a fundamental (re-)orientation of the discussion toward the historical claims made about Jesus and his followers in the ancient evidence. We propose three main components of this shift in scholarly posture. First, the goal of scholars is to account for how early followers (and others) came to conceptualize Jesus in the ways they did. We will accomplish this goal by hypothesizing what could have happened in the past by means of critical usage of the scholarly imagination. Second, the application of this re-imagining will be to look at a cluster of themes overlooked in the quest for the historical Jesus, but which reflect scholarly innovations in the wider study of Christian origins and in the Humanities more generally. Third, this shift thus necessarily entails a full embrace of comparative approaches to the study of the Jesus movement. To an extent, this shift is a return to some of the foundational figures of the quest for the historical Jesus, such as Albert Schweitzer, one of the most interdisciplinary figures in the history of our field. The features of this reconceptualization deserve further articulation.

More information about the publication will be forthcoming. 


A Historical Conference

The initial participants of this new quest met virtually on July 11, 2022, and in a hybrid format on July 15-16, 2022. The presenters include:

  • Michael Barber, The Augustine Institute
  • Giovanni Bazzana, Harvard Divinity School
  • James Crossley, St. Mary’s University, Twickenham
  • Paula Fredriksen, Boston University and Hebrew University
  • Deane Galbraith, University of Otago
  • Mark Goodacre, Duke University
  • Meghan Henning, University of Dayton
  • Nathan C. Johnson, University of Indianapolis
  • Chris Keith, St Mary’s University, Twickenham, The University of Notre Dame Australia
  • John Kloppenborg, University of Toronto
  • Brandon Massey, St. Mary’s University, Twickenham
  • Halvor Moxnes, University of Oslo
  • Robert Myles, Wollaston Theological College
  • Wongi Park, Belmont University
  • Janelle Peters, Independent Scholar
  • Taylor Petrey, Kalamazoo College
  • Adele Reinhartz, University of Ottawa
  • Rafael Rodríguez, Johnson University
  • Sarah Rollens, Rhodes College
  • Nathan Shedd, St. Mary’s University, Twickenham
  • Mitzi Smith, Columbia Theological Seminary
  • Joan Taylor, King’s College London
  • Matthew Thiessen, McMaster University
  • Robyn Walsh, University of Miami
  • Matt Whitlock, Seattle University
  • Sean Winter, Pilgrim Theological College, University of Divinity
  • Stephen Young, Appalachian State University


Other contributors to the volume include:

  • Helen K. Bond, University of Edinburgh
  • Tucker S. Ferda, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
  • David Horrell, University of Exeter
  • Amy-Jill Levine, Hartford International University for Religion and Peace & Vanderbilt University, emerita
  • Candida Moss, University of Birmingham
  • Brant Pitre, Augustine Institute
  • Anders Runesson, University of Oslo
  • Jens Schröter, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin


11 July Virtual Session


15 July Hybrid Session


16 July Hybrid Session