Such an approach is appealing to Michael Grant, who judges that, while much history can be gained by such a method, the miraculous elements in the life of Jesus are not within the purview of the historian, but belong in the realm of faith.^35 Nevertheless, Grant does find a considerable amount of history in the life of Jesus.
In addition to historians, this approach of ascertaining historical facts from the Gospels was made famous by the theological movement known as nineteenth century Liberalism, as we discussed in Chapter 1. Often termed “Old” or “German Liberalism” to distinguish it from other modern alternatives, the chief methodology was to reconstruct Jesus’ life chiefly by using the synoptic Gospels. These sources were generally viewed as quite adequate materials for this endeavor, with the general exceptions of doctrinal portions and miracles. In other words, the Liberals usually accepted the facts presented in the synoptic Gospels, but endeavored to get
31 Carl F.H. Henry, “Cross-Currents in Contemporary Theology,” in Jesus of Nazareth: Saviour and Lord, ed. by Carl F.H. Henry (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966), p. 15; Clark, “Bultmann’s Universe,” pp. 217–218.
32 Avery Dulles, “Jesus of History and Christ of Faith” in Commonweal, Nov. 24, 1967, pp. 225–232.
33 Schubert Ogden, Christ Without Myth(New York: Harper and Row, 1961).
34 For an excellent treatment of the general trustworthiness of the Gospels, see Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels(Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1987). Part Two specifically addresses the efforts of recent forms of criticism.
35 Grant, Jesus: An Historian’s Review, p. 13.
to the man behind the early theological creeds and to provide naturalistic explanations for the miracles.^36