For most of my 70+ years of attending Presbyterian Churchs and Bible studies, 60 years of which were in Conservative/Evangelical/Fundamentalist churches, I've struggled with some of the hard questions. Especially shice my education and career were in the sciences.
see My Reawakening

There are many books written on this subject. Here is my brief summary of the debate.

There does not seem to be any consensus or resolution, other than much of the traditional theology needs to be revised based on new evidence in the last 100 or more years or more.

Quest of the Historical Jesus | Wikipedia

Since the 18th century, three scholarly quests for the historical Jesus have taken place, each with distinct characteristics and based on different research criteria, which were often developed during each specific phase.


Many make a distinction between the pre-Easter Jesus and post-Easter Jesus, the divine savior who was crucified and resurrected.
pre-Easter, Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure, a first century Palestinian Jew.

Some descriptions of the historical Jesus.

  • Jesus as a radical philosopher of Wisdom literature, who strives to destabilize the economic status quo.
  • nonmessianic, which means that he didn't claim to be the Messiah or have a message focused on his own identity,
  • Jewish mysticism - An exorcist, healer
  • A spirit Person - A "mediator of the sacred" for whom the Spirit or God was a reality that was experienced.
    Like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Profits, Elija,and Ezicial
    Black Elk a famous Wichasha Wakan (Medicine man or Holy Man) of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux).
    Las Cruces artist and author George Mendoza. Nominated for a 2022 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for "Journey of the Spirit Man".

    In The Fourth Quest of the Historical Jesus: Jesus The Purifier | Worldview Bulletin, 2021 Craig Blomberg says Paul Anderson chair of The Society of Biblical Literature, says there is a fourth quest underway.

    The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, discovered in 1945, so was not in the canonical bible, sheds new light on the issue.
    [They were translations of the original Green to the Coptic language of Egypt]
    They were probably written in the second century.
    It does not tell the story of the life and death of Jesus, but offers the reader his 'secret teachings' about the Kingdom of God.
    See The Coptic Gospel of Thomas at PBS Fronline.
    The Gospel of Thomas at Phiosophy Lectures

    Since the late 2000s, concerns have been growing about the usefulness of the criteria of authenticity and proclamations of a more expansive and genuinely interdisciplinary Next Quest.

    In 2021, James Crossley (editor of the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus) announced that historical Jesus scholarship now had moved to the era of the Next Quest. The Next Quest has moved on from the criteria, obsessions with the uniqueness of Jesus, and the supersessionism.

    Since the late 2000s, concerns have been growing about the usefulness of the criteria of authenticity and proclamations of a more expansive and genuinely interdisciplinary Next Quest.
    For example the jury is still out as to whether Jesus had an apocalyptic view of the world.

    Quest for the historical Jesus | religion Wiki

    See: Who Wrote the Gospels, and How Do We Know for Sure?

    history of the understanding of Jesus in the 20th century John Ortberb interview.
    Four Portraits, One Jesus course, taught by Mark L. Strauss 2017

    Quest for the historical Jesus | religion Wiki Meeding Jesus Again for the First Time: The historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith; Marcus J. Borgs, 1995
    Of the many books on the historical Jesus, none has explored what the latest biblical scholarship means for personal faith. Now, in Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Marcus Borg addresses the yearnings of those who want a fully contemporary faith that welcomes rather than oppresses our critical intelligence and openness to the best of historical scholarship. Borg shows how a rigorous examination of historical findings can lead to a new faith in Christ, one that is critical and, at the same time, sustaining.

    Drawing on his own journey from a nave, unquestioning belief in Christ through collegiate skepticism to a mature and contemporary Christian faith, Borg illustrates how an understanding of the historical Jesus can actually lead to a more authentic Christian lifeone not rooted in creed or dogma, but in a life of spiritual challenge, compassion, and community.

    Regarding the Divide Between the Christ of Faith and the Jesus of History | JOVAN PAYESm 2017

    Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith Borg, Marcus J., 1995

    The Historical Jesus | YouTube at Ancient Hostory Lectures