You may have heard discussions about the historical Jesus and wondered exactly what that term means. This episode explores the use of the phrase and why studying the New Testament differently can help us discover the Jesus of history.
Often we concentrate our study of the New Testament on the teachings and ministry of Jesus, but there is value in studying the historical Jesus. Do we sometimes forget he was a man who lived over 2000 years ago in Palestine? Do we think about what kind of clothes he wore? Were they the same or different than those commonly portrayed in portraits? Does what he was wearing tell us anything about Jesus as a man or lend understanding to the stories of the miracles of Jesus? Biblical historians believe it does. These are the things that made Jesus a man living in his time who also accomplished the miraculous.
In the past, the Gospels of the evangelists have often been taught through harmonization or the comparing of each authors’ telling of a miracle, parable, or event in the life of Jesus. But when we homogenize, we lose the voice of each author who had a distinct story to tell to a specific audience. Matthew was Jewish and wrote to the Jews. Luke was a gentile and fashioned his narrative for a gentile audience. Their different presentations lend richness and diversity to the telling of a common story, while sometimes even correcting prior writings.
In this episode of the LDS Perspectives podcast, Dr. Thomas Wayment chats with Laura Harris Hales about the value of looking for the historical Jesus in our study of the New Testament.