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.
reflects the intellectual inheritance of the Enlightenment. A famous popular expression of the same mind-set in the United States in the early 19th century was an edition of the gospels published by Thomas Jefferson, who conveniently omitted all the miracles41. Bultmann, of course, was not so uncritical, though little more than a page of his Jesus and the Word focuses directly on Jesus performance of miracles. If anything, the treatment of Jesus miracles is even more jejune in Bultmanns Theology of the New Testament42. The post-Bultmannians were hardly more sanguine about the subject. Hans Conzelmann devotes a single paragraph to Jesus miracles in his article on Jesus in the 3d edition of the RGG; Günther Bornkamm gives the subject some three pages out of 231 pages (counting according to the pagination in the English translation) in his book Jesus of Nazareth43. In contrast, Martin Dibelius dedicated a short chapter to miracles in his Jesus book44; but one must admit that, until recently, the post-Bultmannian refusal to give Jesus miracles extensive treatment has prevailed in many reconstructions of the historical Jesus.
It is in this neglected area that various participants in the third quest have made solid contributions, though at times in a back-handed way. The great example of the back-handed contribution early on was the book by Morton Smith, Jesus the Magician45. Despite the sensationalistic portrayal of Jesus as a magician secretly practicing libertine rituals, Smith was right to criticize the unbalanced Bultmannian picture focusing on Jesus as a teacher and preacher of the word. Such a truncated picture, claimed Smith,