John P. Meier, writing in 1994:
“The best laid schemes of mice and exegetes… In the beginning, A Marginal Jew was to have been a one-volume work on the historical Jesus, Then two volumes became necessary; now there will be three.” (Vol II, p 1)
By the time of the third volume (2001), however, Meier said there would need to be a fourth. But again, it would be final:
“The theme of the final volume of our quest will be ‘The Enigmas Jesus Posed and Was’. The four great enigmas to be considered are the enigma of Jesus’ teaching on the Law, the enigmas or riddle-speech of Jesus’ parables, the enigmas or riddle-speech of Jesus’ self-designations, and the final enigma or riddle of his death… It is to the massive task of unravelling these four great enigmas…that we will turn our attention in the fourth and final volume of A Marginal Jew.” (Vol III, pp 645-646)
I am now holding that “fourth and final volume” in my hand, and — as we have learned to predict by now — there’s nothing final about it. In fact, it treats only one of those four enigmas (the law). Meier now promises that “the other three enigmas will be treated in volume five.” (Vol IV, p 1). Indeed. Given this track record, I think we can count on at least six volumes.