John P. Meier, «The Present State of the Third Quest for the Historical Jesus: Loss and Gain», Vol. 80 (1999) 459-487
Despite the questionable method and positions of the Jesus Seminar, the third quest for the historical Jesus has resulted in seven notable gains as compared with the old quests. (1) The third quest has an ecumenical and international character. (2) It clarifies the question of reliable sources. (3) It presents a more accurate picture of first-century Judaism. (4) It employs new insights from archaeology, philology, and sociology. (5) It clarifies the application of criteria of historicity. (6) It gives proper attention to the miracle tradition. (7) It takes the Jewishness of Jesus with utter seriousness.
its diversity and vitality and to situate Jesus the Jew firmly within that portrait.
IV. New Insights from Archaeology, Philology, and Sociology
Connected with a better understanding of Judaism at the turn of the era is the fourth gain of the present quest: the intense use of new insights garnered from archaeology, philology, and sociology to locate Jesus more concretely in his time and place. While one can only be amused by the outlandish claims of some scholars about Jesus connection with Qumran27, Qumran studies have indeed shed light, not so much on Jesus himself as on the religious milieu in which he operated28. Still, some surprising parallels between Qumran and the gospels tempt one to speculation. For instance, in its listing of the various miracles that God will work in the days of the Messiah, 4Q521 displays a tantalizing similarity to Jesus reply to the disciples of John the Baptist in Matt 11,2-5 parr., complete with echoes of the prophet Isaiah and references to restoring sight to the blind and raising the dead. Especially striking is how both texts, right after the wonder of raising the dead, mention the further wonder of bringing good news to the poor (or: meek)29. In a different vein, documents like 4QMMT, the Temple Scroll, and the Damascus Document have underlined the importance of ha$la4ka= for pre-70 Judaism in general and the Essenes in particular30. In some