More positive in its assessment of the historical Jesus than was the “New Quest,” it is also more difficult to produce certain common earmarks of the latest installment of Jesus research, due to the inclusion of such a wide spectrum of views. Perhaps the chief characteristic is the emphasis on anchoring Jesus against the backdrop of his own time, especially with regard to the Jewish setting and context for Jesus’ life and teachings. Any interpretation that does not recognize the “Jewishness” of Jesus may be judged not to fit into this category.
Accordingly, emphasis has been placed on such factors as the religious, political, economic, and social influences in the land of Palestine. Recent archaeological findings have fueled a debate concerning the amount of Hellenistic and Roman influence in the Galilee of Jesus’ day.
A few brief examples will perhaps reveal some threads that tie together this loose-knit group of studies. For Geza Vermes, himself a Jew, Jesus was a popular Jewish rabbi and Galilean holy man.^25 A treatise by Ben Meyer portrays Jesus as preaching to Israel, God’s chosen people, with a renewed offer of community.^26
E.P.Sanders centers on Jesus’ cleansing of the temple, which, seen in the context of the Judaism of Jesus’ day, was an act that seriously offended his Jewish audience and eventually led to his death.^27 Richard Horsley interprets Jesus as favoring
22 Ibid., chapter IV; cf. also Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus—God and Man, transl. by Lewis Wilkins and Duane Priebe (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1968), pp. 88–105.
23 Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology, transl. by James W. Leitch (New York: Harper and Row, 1967).