While few scholars doubt that Jesus ever lived, several approaches have been popular over the years that propose to limit what we can know about the historical Jesus. We will investigate a number of common misconceptions that would restrict research on our topic. Each challenge will be presented, followed by an initial critique. Many of the criticisms in this chapter will anticipate the research that will be presented subsequently.

A Demythologized Jesus

From about 1930–1960, a popular view was that the Gospels do not present a historical record of Jesus, but a witness to early Christian belief. Since the writers were more concerned about faith and the application of the Christian message to daily concerns than about actual events in the life of Jesus, we know much less about the historical Jesus than the Gospels actually record.