In addition to writing the introduction for this book, I also write a chapter on the intellectual history of Jesus research. This chapter draws from the research done for my essay in JSHJ. My basic thesis is that the First Quest/No Quest/New Quest/Third Quest paradigm is ultimately misleading. This paradigm has roots in Albert Schweitzer's "quest" survey. While it was the best treatment of the topic at the time, it is time to recognize it for what it was: ethnocentric to the point of German, supremacist myopia. Indeed, Schweitzer calls German intelligentsia spiritually superior on the first pages.
Once Schweitzer's ethnocentric blinders have been removed, one sees that the "quest" for the historical Jesus begins long before Chubb, Lessing, et al. (perhaps as early as Josephus or Augustine), does not suffer a global "No Quest", and demonstrates a remarkably consistent theme related to Jewish-Christian relations throughout the centuries. Indeed the Jewishness of Jesus isn't unique to any so-called "Third Quest", but is a constant reminder whenever Jews and Christians find themselves in dialogue and debate.
It could be that there was a "No Quest" (or "no biography of Jesus") period in Germany. But the vast majority of scholars neglect to deal with the proximity of these years to the Holocaust / Shoah. Indeed, the Aryan Jesus and the Jesus-without-an-ethnicity of European intelligentsia was strategic during this period. (I will review Heschel's wonderful book in a future post.) For example, Ernst Renan is a well-known voice in Jesus research. But his program was also very motivated by the rise of "race" as a pseudoscience. I write:
In addition to pointing out the many overlapping threads between Jesus research and Jewish-Christian relations, I suggest that contemporary Jewish-Christian dialogue can benefit from a better understanding of our histories together. These relations have often involved competing portraits of Jesus.