Darrell Bock writes the final essay in our book and represents the Evangelical view. Bock agrees that the best place to start the quest is in a Jewish context given our “accumulating knowledge of Second Temple Judaism” but we have to remember that “the Jesus of Scripture is a Jesus remembered.” (250-51) Bock also agrees that we should use the “rules historical Jesus scholars use.” (252) He lists these rules as “multiple attestation, dissimilarity in one of its variety of forms, coherence, Aramaic substratum, embarrassment, cultural appropriateness and/or historical plausibility.” (252) Even using all the same rules Bock admits that the results of the study will vary among scholars and will, at best, give us “access to the gist of Jesus.” (252)
Bock begins by acknowledging that Jesus did, in fact, exist. He points to Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius and other later Jewish and Roman sources for support. He says, “There is no evidence that those who opposed the movement attributed to him denied his existence.” (253) Bock then begins a trek through Scripture noting “key themes, events and sayings that help us zero in on what Jesus about.” (253) Some of these include Jesus’ association with John the Baptist; the character of Jesus which includes his reaching out to the fringe; the call of Jesus ministry which is a call to total commitment; and the subject of Jesus’ ministry which was the kingdom of God and the promised age of God. Along the way Bock incorporates some of the rules to demonstrate the validity of a certain saying or event. For example, when Jesus rebukes Peter and calls him “Satan” Bock asks, using the criteria of embarrassment, “Would the church create an event where it compares its lead apostle to the paragon of evil?” (261) Another example is the temple incident. Bock says “virtually everyone . . . sees it as important to understanding Jesus.” (268) The church would not have created this event because it sought “to be careful about being seen as seditious, and yet the event plays right into that danger. Thus that it took place best explains its presence.” (269) Bock spends a good amount of time looking at other events or themes such as the Last Supper (271f), the Jewish examination of Jesus (273f), the examination of Jesus by Pilate and the crucifixion (276f) and the resurrection of Jesus after a certain death (278f). With each passage Bock is careful to consider the historical credibility of the event and its significance for understanding Jesus. What does Bock conclude? “A messianic Jesus who saw himself standing at the hub of God’s program and completely vindicated as Son of Man at God’s side produced a coherent, corroborated narrative for the early church. Such an account of him stands solidly rooted in what the historical Jesus actually said and did.” (281)
Next time we'll look at the responses to Bock and I'll give some final impressions of the book as a whole.