One bit of advice I give to folks who want to pursue a potential PhD supervisor is this: you shouldn't assume that previous book titles represent present interests. Even if that scholar authored a book two years ago, it might mean that it was a topic he was interested in ten years ago. Dale Allison is a good case in point. It seems that after each publication, he promptly decides that he really doesn't like what he wrote and this prompts him to write a new book. It very well could be that I like his work more than he does.
Allison’s chapter in Jesus,Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity is a must read if you’d like to see how historical Jesus research has changed in the past twenty years. It is an autobiographical reflection on his “disillusionment” with standard methods of historical-critical research. In successive publications, Allison tells us, he became less and less confident that the standard “criteria for authenticity” could deliver what they promised. In Constructing Jesus, he decides to abandon the traditional criteria or any attempt to “authenticate” individual sayings of or stories about Jesus.
But what Allison undersells in his chapter, perhaps due to the fact that he has the verve of a funeral director, is that all is not lost. Indeed, Allison offers us a compelling portrait of the historical Jesus without these traditional criteria. He summarizes his method quite succinctly in Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity. Tune in tomorrow to hear my succinct summary of his succinct summary. I promise to be succinctly summative.