Our aim here has been: to try to sift through the claims and counter-claims of historians, apologists and sceptics, and to establish a responsible historical basis for our assessment of the man who, on any showing, has affected the course of history more than anyone else who ever lived.
— R. T. France, from The Evidence for Jesus, p. 168
How much of our traditional understanding of Jesus is the product not so much of the historical records as of pious imagination and sentimentality? How much of it has the effect of turning Jesus into a man of our own culture, or still worse, of no culture at all, thus effectively cutting him off from real life? How many people today, Christian people included, subconsciously think of Jesus in the terms of the Christianised version of the Testimonium Flavianum: ‘a wise man, if indeed one should call him a man’? Are we not still slightly shocked at the thought that Jesus could have had a real sense of humour, or held political views?
— R. T. France, from The Evidence for Jesus, p. 158
To take seriously Jesus’ teaching (and to make sense of his activity, in which that teaching found visible expression) demanded a radical reorientation, an abandonment of cherished preconceptions, a questioning of conventional values and attitudes. Continue reading