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"What Jesus Demands from the World" -The Quest for the Historical Jesus

by Dr. D ~

By John Piper (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2006, 400 pgs.)

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John Piper has some great comments about the Gospels and the ‘Quest’ of modern Biblical scholarship for the ‘real’ Jesus.  See the section in the intro of his newest book ("What Jesus Demands from the World") called: "A Word to Biblical Scholars" (pg.29-36).

He points out that much of what passes for "the assured results of Biblical criticism" is nothing more than conjectures and the wishful thinking of the scholars themselves.


The goal is to find the real Jesus who lived and taught before the gospels were written.  In reality, ‘The Quest for the Historical Jesus’ brakes down because the earliest written records we have about Jesus, the Gospels themselves, are downplayed and fractured to support the currents attitudes and theories of the latest scholars and writers.  Dr. Piper calls it all an academic game:

"First, no reliable or lasting portrait of Jesus has ever been reconstructed from going behind what the four Gospels portray. There is no reason to think this will change. The reason is at hand: When you abandon ‘das Vorhandenen’ (what exists at hand) for conjectures, you turn scholarship into an academic game."

He concludes that the Gospels will always be the primary source for all that we know about Jesus, and the primary source for the church and most Christians:

"…,the portrayal of Jesus in the Gospels of the New Testament is the only portrayal that has any chance of shaping the church and the world over the long haul.  This is because it is the only one that people have access to.  Whatever the Questers may construct, it will usually be read by only a handful of people."

Finally, one of the major goals of the ‘Quest’ movement is to find the ‘radical’ Jesus behind the ‘Christ of faith’ or the ‘theological’ Jesus worshipped by the church.  Dr. Piper concludes that the ‘real’ Jesus is the one recorded in the Gospels, and in reality is the most ‘radical’ of all.  In his book, he actually plans to present all the radical ‘demands’ that Jesus made in the Gospels.

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