The new book by Wayne Meeks, Christ is the Question, has some ringing endorsements, including one from Bart Ehrman:
“Witty, perceptive, learned, and wise, this is not just another book about the historical Jesus; it is a masterly reflection by a master scholar with four decades of scholarship behind him. For Wayne Meeks, the question of who Christ is cannot be resolved by post-enlightenment scientific historical investigation (the advent of which he sketches with verve and insight). For him, this historical Jesus is the Jesus who ‘makes history’, as he has been understood by his followers over the centuries and in our own day.”
— Bart D. Ehrman, Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina
“Written with Wayne Meeks’s customary clarity and power, Christ is the Question will engage and benefit both the church and the academy-all who care about Jesus and about the way his image is used and misused in the world today.”
— Susan R. Garrett, Professor of New Testament, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
“In this explosive book Wayne Meeks shows the way beyond both liberal and conservative readings of the New Testament. This book is an intervention that does what all truly important books do: it entirely changes the conversation.”
— Cyril O’Regan, Huisking Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame
Meeks apparently wants us to dispense with the historical quest, believing that Jesus is lost and unfixed to the extent that he can only be located as “a figure whose identity continues to emerge as contemporary persons engage him in their daily lives” (publisher’s description). Meeks may find William Arnal to be an ally of sorts. In The Symbolic Jesus Arnal recently concluded that the search for the historical Jesus should be abandoned because the “symbolic Jesus” is what ultimately matters, even in historical research, whether or not people realize it. I’ll have more to say about this after I read Christ is the Question, and I may review Meeks’ book alongside Arnal’s if there are enough commonalities for comparative purposes. I don’t accept that the quest for the historical Jesus should be abandoned, even if Meeks and Arnal light on plenty of reasons to make us wonder if reasonable objectivity is attainable.