Constructing Jesus, by Dale C. Allison Jr.

Two years ago, after Dale Allison published a short book on historical Jesus studies that seemed to question the legitimacy of the enterprise, Scot McKnight, a prominent Jesus scholar, declared that the book had convinced him to abandon the discipline altogether. Indeed, McKnight praised Allison's The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus for sounding a renewed death knell for a renewed enterprise that Albert Schweitzer had tried to put down back in 1906. Thanks to Allison, McKnight averred, the so-called "third quest for the historical Jesus" was officially over.

That judgment appears to have been premature. Allison is back with a volume that makes it clear that he thinks not that the quest has ended but that the manner in which it has been conducted must be rejected or at least thoroughly re­vised.

The traditional approach has relied heavily on source criticism (for example, on reconstructions of the biblical source called Q) and has sought to authenticate sayings or deeds attributed to Jesus through appeals to various criteria (such as multiple attestation and dissimilarity). After decades of research, however, scholars have failed to reach consensus on many matters.