'Jesus the Jew' has the been the key to rendering Jesus as a historical construction from Augustine onward. When we take a long view (one that includes Josephus, the Talmud, Spinoza, Ya'avetz, Joseph Klausner, David Flusser, etc.) the non-Jewish portraits from Renan to Kasemann do not represent an era before the "Third Quest". These non-Jewish portraits are failed attempts to hold back a 2000-year tide.
To this, Larry the likable Lawyer loquated:
...the Third Quest would be important as a repudiation of the anti-Jewishness of the Second Quest. We're well rid of the idea that the "authentic" Jesus can be found in his least Jewish sayings and doings.
I think Larry is absolutely correct on this point. In fact, I think that we've arrived at the heart of the issue. Perhaps we should be talking about modern Jesus research in terms of pre-Holocaust and post-Holocaust eras.
The impact of the Holocaust has been noticed in Pauline studies for a while now. The New Perspective folks have sometimes been *accused* of reshaping Paul's theology and ancient Judaism in counterbalance to German Anti-Judaism. In other words, perhaps our New Perspective friends overcompensated for the supersessionism and anti-Judaism of the previous era. Keep in mind that it really wasn't until the mid-sixties that Jews and Christians could talk about the theological wheels in that machine (however, see now this Meisterstück). It took all of that time to emerge from the ruins and arrive at a place of reflection (Martin Buber being the remarkable exception - pursuing dialogue with Christians sooner than most). So maybe Sanders' conventional nomism was a reaction to rock-bottom of western civilization. Or, and this will betray my sympathies, maybe Sanders, Wright, Dunn et al. simply benefited from better conversation partners as a byproduct of Christianity's newly found sensitivity.
So why not talk about the impact that post-Holocaust sensitivities had on Jesus studies? Isn't it true that the Jesuses of Sanders, Vermes, Hengel, Theissen, Flussser, Charlesworth, etc. emerge just when Jews and Christians begin talking frankly about the theological currents of the Holocaust?
To be clear, I do not think that Jesus' Jewishness was any great revelation after the catastrophes of National Socialism. The historical Jesus has always been a construct built on (or in reaction to) popular understandings of first-century Judaism. But pendulums swing and the Holocaust was force of gravity like few others.