Jesus At The Vanishing Point
Jesus at the Vanishing Point is the first chapter of The Historical Jesus: Five Views, a book that covers the field of research on historical Jesus. The Book’s editors, Eddy and Beilbly provide a survey of the five stages of the quest for historical Jesus in forty-six pages. Each of the five views has a full chapter devoted to it, with responses from authors of the other chapters at the end. The first chapter is authored by Robert Price, and advances the argument that Jesus as a historical character featured in the writings and beliefs of ancient Christians did not exist in reality. Mr. Price argues that the character of Jesus was a product of invention in the imagination of ancient people, which led to the birth of Christianity.
The chapter starts with a description of the approach a historical research takes. Mr. Price makes the case that since there is no way of knowing with certainty events that took place in the past, rather than dogmatize it, historians deal in probabilities. A historian’s evaluation of ancient sources has no option but to assume that events that do not occur in the present did not occur in the past either. Mr. Price uses the analogy that although there may be a possibility the laws of physics have been different in the past, from the perspective of historical research, there is no valid reason to believe them to have been so. It follows that any historical event other than the existence of Jesus is possible. Mr. Price cites Baur’s idea of the role of a historian as being to determine what is probable, since anything is possible (60).
Mr. Price’s methodological approach is arguably objectionable. He introduces the criterion of dissimilarity, whose use has been a subject of discussion, and even abandoned by historians, owing to problems identified as having arisen out of its use. Imagining a historical figure without either a continuity with his preexistence or a wider historical and cultural context is arguably implausible. It is also not plausible to imagine a group – Christians in this case – that considered a historical figure as its founder, and yet kept no records of anything regarding the founder in whatever form. Mr. Price’s methodological approach appears to consider
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When Mr. Price exploits the perceived similarities between ancient myths and the story of Jesus as his argument that Jesus’ account was constructed, he does not address the fact that there exist similarities among historical accounts. The chapter does not make a strong enough case in support of its premise.
Beilby, James K., and Paul R. Eddy. The historical Jesus: five views. Downers Grove, Ill:
IVP Academic, 2009.
Evans, Craig A. The Routledge encyclopedia of the historical Jesus. Routledge, 2014.
Stein, Robert H. Jesus, the Temple and the Coming Son of Man: A Commentary on Mark 13.
InterVarsity Press, 2014.
 James K. Beilby and Paul R. Eddy. 2009. The historical Jesus: five views (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2009), 56.
 Ibid, 60.
Craig A Evans. The Routledge encyclopedia of the historical Jesus (Routledge, 2014), 43.
 James K. Beilby and Paul R. Eddy. 2009. The historical Jesus: five views (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2009), 60-61.
 Robert H Stein. Jesus, the Temple and the Coming Son of Man: A Commentary on Mark 13 (InterVarsity Press, 2014), 57.
 James K. Beilby and Paul R. Eddy. 2009. The historical Jesus: five views (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2009), 74.
 Ibid, 86.
 Ibid, 91.
 Ibid, 95.