Podcast recommendation: introduction to the historical Jesus in context

I was remiss in not sooner noting the recent completion of a podcast series by York University’s Philip Harland. It’s a recently completed set of fourteen lectures on many of the issues surrounding historical Jesus studies entitled The Historical Jesus in context.

Those brought up never questioning any aspect of the New Testament’s historicity should find it interesting to see how an historian approaching those texts without a presupposition of their divinely ensured accuracy, that is, as an ancient text, will evaluate the evidence about Jesus. (Hint: this type of historian won’t exactly come to the same conclusions as Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel!) This series is invaluable for giving you a glimpse into the ways that students of academic historical study approach the subjects of their inquiry, shedding some light on the kinds of historical information scholars find most compelling and the various ways of weighing evidence, in this case the evidence of the New Testament.

The series examines the evidence for Jesus as messianic figure, Jesus as apocalyptic prophet, Jesus as exorcist, and several other aspects of Jesus’ ministry that we find in the Gospels, attempting to situate him amongst other known religious leaders and groups in first century Judea. It will no doubt trouble some conservative listeners to realize the similarities between Jesus and other Jewish prophets, exorcists, and would-be Messiahs from the period, but I leave more aware of how astounding and suggestive the success of this particular peasant from backwoods Nazareth actually was.

I wish more instructors and professors would find ways of publishing their lectures for such wide consumption. It’s supposed to be fairly easy, I hear!

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