Scot McKnight has an interesting post explaining why he has abandoned hope in historical Jesus studies being useful for the church. In “Historical Jesus Contrarian” he makes five points:
First, historical Jesus studies attempt to get “behind” the Gospels and the Creeds to talk about the “real” Jesus.
Second, he suggest that this is problematic since it dismisses the church’s Jesus.
Third, the church knowing what we confess about Jesus is already disadvantaged by engaging a discussion with this presupposition.
Fourth, this does not mean he opposes the idea of studying the canonical Jesus in his first century context because this sort of historical study takes the canonical Jesus seriously while historical Jesus studies attempt to move past the canonical Jesus to the Jesus behind the text.
Fifth, the Gospels are interpretations of Jesus so if we reconstruct a “historical Jesus’ with the aims of getting to the “real” Jesus then we find ourselves in the awkward position of placing our reconstructed Jesus up against the canonical and creedal Jesus.
These are interesting and serious contentions. I welcome you to take the time to read McKnight’s post and wrestle with his claims.