The quest for the historical Jesus is littered with boring books; not so this one. Professor Bruce Fisk has combined the fictional story of Norm, a post-grad student exploring Israel in a personal quest to discover the ‘real’ Jesus with a textbook to all the historical and theological issues that arise from reading the Gospels to brilliant effect.
Here are a few reasons why; firstly, the storyteller is Norm, and the first person narrative makes this easy to read and not a laborious academic exercise. It gives the book pace and allows Fisk to weave in contemporary political issues and characters such as Elias Chacour or fictional Rabbi’s covertly praying on the Temple Mount. It also gives the book character and allows for the introduction of archaeology giving the reader a much better sense of place than other textbooks.
Secondly the design is a huge advantage. With sketches, pictures, post-it notes and textbook scrawls the information becomes more accessible than ever.
Thirdly and actually most importantly, of course, is the content. Fisk knows his stuff and is sensitive to the challenges that New Testament scholarship can pose to the naïve Christian student unaware of the pitfalls that lie ahead.
There are no definitive answers here but as an introduction to the issues at stake this is by far the best I’ve come across. Not only should it be on every theology student’s suggested reading list but if that student was a Christian then this is a must read because of the superb way it handles the tension between faith and the academy. However limiting it to theology students would be a mistake, for any reader interested in reading an introduction to the study of Jesus then this would be an excellent place to start.