I'll copy here a short section from the review, which describes Wolter's proposal:
The book’s emphasis on the theological contours of historical Jesus research begins in Wolter’s opening essay. Wolter situates his discussion as a mediating position between the opinion of Reimarus, who believed that the historical Jesus behind the Gospels was historically accessible and theologically significant in contrast to the Christ of faith, and Kähler, who believed the historical Jesus behind the Gospels was historically inaccessible and theologically insignificant, since theological significance resided solely in the Christ of faith. Wolter proposes instead a third path. After providing a catalogue for the different approaches to Jesus in critical enquiry (“historical Jesus,” “Jesus Christ,” “earthly Christ,” “Jesus Christ remembered,” “Jesus from Nazareth,” “Jesus’ self-interpretation,” and “the real Jesus”), Wolter argues that “the real Jesus,” which he defines as “an ontic reality beyond the images that people have been making of him since the time he lived” (12), “definitely exists” but that “we cannot really say anything about him” because any perception is “contaminated with particular interpretations” (13). Wolter proceeds, however, to argue that the theologian, as opposed to the non-theological historian, can go further in his or her knowledge since “the real Jesus” is Jesus as he is known and vindicated by God. Wolter sees this vindication in the resurrection of Jesus and visionary experiences in the early Church, whereby God affirmed “Jesus’ self-interpretation.” Wolter concludes, therefore, that for the theological historian, historical Jesus questions must ultimately “be answered by the self-interpretation of Jesus” (17).
As far as I can tell, none of the respondents bought 100% into Wolter's proposal. All of them praised aspects of it and some were very critical. One of the most interesting things was to see which scholars chose to address the specific question of whether there is a categorical difference in doing historical Jesus research from a theological perspective, and which scholars chose not to address it. For me, the two highlights of the volume overall were Christopher M. Hays's and Robert Morgan's essays. Hays argues for a Gadamerian Wirkungsgeschichte approach to historical Jesus studies, where the differences between theological and non-theological approaches to historical Jesus research essentially amount to how, and to what extent, a researcher engages with Jesus' history of effects. I'm still thinking on whether Wolter's conversation is one that, at the end of the day, we can really have. But Hays convinced me that if it is to be had, it must look something like he proposes. I do wish Hays had given some more attention to the significance of a Gadamerian approach for non-theological Jesus research, though. Morgan's essay outlines how confessional Jesus researchers can incorporate the results of historical criticism into faith-images of Jesus. It's a very interesting article, though its explicit definition of historical Jesus research as "subordinate" to Christian theology, and arguments for incorporating historical Jesus research "piecemeal" into an image of Jesus as a means to "safeguard" that image, were more than a little concerning to me. In my mind, the problem is not a faith or non-faith perspective but rather whether that position is determinative for the scholar doing historical work. For the sake of honesty in the discussion, or at least its appearance, one must preserve a place for the believing Jesus scholar who is convinced that he or she must follow the evidence wherever it leads. What is abundantly clear in the volume, however, is that the question of the relevance of historical Jesus research for New Testament theology and Christian faith is nowhere near a consensus.
Now, for those of you who have really only been reading this because of the word "giveaway" in the title of the post . . . I happen to have an extra copy of the book and I'm going to give it away. You know the rules. You can enter to win by commenting below, sharing this post on any and all social media and leaving a comment, signing up to follow the blog and leaving a comment, or . . . for the wild card, telling us your 80s or 90s music guilty pleasure. Mine is probably the Bangles.