The Quest for the Real Jesus - Radboud Prestige Lectures by Prof. Dr. Michael Wolter
The first series of lectures that formed a part of the Radboud Prestige Lectures in New Testament were held in December 2011 at the Radboud University Nijmegen. They were presented by Prof. Dr. Michael Wolter of the University of Bonn, Germany. His main prestige lecture focused on the important question of the quest for the historical Jesus.
The aim of the Radboud Prestige Lectures in New Testament is to stimulate high level academic discussion, not only in the Netherlands, but also wider afield. In addition these lectures acknowledge the outstanding work of internationally recognized scholars. The esteemed scholars that are invited to participate in these lectures are widely regarded as leaders in their respective fields in the New Testament. Each one shares their wealth of knowledge and experience on topics of their own choosing. While the series of lectures are held at the Radboud University Nijmegen, publication of the lectures stimulates further academic research and discussion on the respective topics. The project is done in co-operation with Brill Publishers, who kindly undertake the publication of the lecture series.
The format of this volume is somewhat unique and provocative. Prof. Wolter offered his main prestige lecture on the quest for the historical Jesus. In this lecture he challenged many of the current views within the historical Jesus research by critically evaluating the approaches in various categories. This lecture was then presented to a variety of scholars from different disciplines (i.e. New Testament studies and systematic theology) who approach the problem from a number of different perspectives, thus bring a rich texture of insights. The aim was not only to get an overview from some of the important players in the field, but also to provide insights into the current standing of the research on this problem. Systematic theologians and New Testament scholars were jointly invited to participate in the debate by way of response to Prof. Wolter's paper. In this way one can appreciate the role the quest for the historical Jesus plays within a wider framework. This resulted in interesting articles that not only deal with historical, but also with philosophical and hermeneu-tical issues. Hopefully, these different approaches would serve as further stimulation within this debate.
Two things were asked of the contributors. Firstly, they were asked to respond to Prof. Wolter's lecture. Although there is, of course, agreement with much of what Prof. Wolter maintains, his views are nevertheless discussed critically and at times there are some difference among the scholars on crucial points. This is the advantage of these contributions -it introduces the reader to the finer nuances of the debate. Secondly, the contributors were asked to present their own views. The articles therefore do not only critically engage with Wolter's views, but also offer alternative views, which obviously broaden the scope of these discussions.
Consideration was given to the possibility of writing an extended introduction as well as asking Prof. Wolter to respond to the different contributions. It was eventually felt that neither option should be followed in this volume. Firstly, Prof. Wolter's contribution already serves as introduction to, and focus of, the volume. Another introduction would be superfluous. Secondly, in consultation with Prof. Wolter, it was decided for several reasons not to add another chapter with Prof. Wolter's reactions, since his response would no doubt stimulate further responses from the other contributors, thus leading to an endless debate. Rather, such debate and discussion should form part of the debate following this volume. It was felt that the readers, being emerged into the many views and perspectives in the volume, would, in a manner of speaking, write their own 'conclusion'.
Our thanks go not only to Prof. Wolter and the other contributors for their willingness to participate in this volume of the Radboud Prestige Lectures in New Testament but also to Brill for their willingness to support the lecture series. We are looking forward to the next series of prestige lectures that will be held in April 2013 by Prof. Dr. Alan Culpepper, Mercer University, Atlanta, USA, on the ethics of John.
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