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.
sources one by one and found out that each one turned out to be a creation of the early church? The initially impressive argument from multiple attestation would collapse. Hence, after my chapter on the global argument for historicity, I felt that intellectual honesty demanded that I proceed to probe every single miracle story in the four gospels to see whether this objection held. After some four hundred pages of testing, I came to the conclusion that at least some of the miracle stories and sayings went back to the historical Jesus. The tally includes two or three exorcisms, various healings of blind, deaf, and generally sick people, and sayings of Jesus that affirm that he performed exorcisms and healings, material spread over the Marcan, Q, special Lucan, and Johannine traditions. Indeed, the stories of raising the dead found in Mark, the special Lucan tradition, and John, plus an assertion about raising the dead in a Q saying (Matt 11,5-6 par.) make it likely that, during his public ministry, Jesus claimed to have raised the dead. So much for an Enlightenment Jesus. As for the so-called "nature miracles" (a very inadequate category for various types of miracles), they did not fare as well in my testing. In my opinion, only the feeding of the multitude has a fair claim to go back to some remarkable event in Jesus lifetime.
Still, the upshot of this lengthy inventory is basically positive. Not only the global argument but also the probing of all the individual miracle stories and sayings point to a historical Jesus who claimed and was believed by his disciples to have worked miracles during his public ministry. This conclusion, in turn, has great significance for an overall picture of the historical Jesus. Apart from the Jesus Seminar, most participants in the third quest would agree that Jesus was, at the very least, an eschatological prophet proclaiming the imminent coming of Gods definitive rule and kingdom, a rule and kingdom made present even now in Jesus authoritative teaching and mighty deeds of healing. As a number of sayings from different sources (like Mark 3,24-27; Matt 11,5-6 par.; Luke 11,20 par.) make clear, Jesus exorcisms and healings are not just kind deeds to distressed individuals but signs and partial realizations of Gods final victory over sin, illness, death, and Satan as he liberates and rules his people Israel "in the last days".
But this insight brings us to a further point. If Jesus presented himself as an eschatological prophet who performed a whole series of miracles, what Old Testament figure or model would naturally be conjured up in the minds of 1st-century Palestinian Jews? In the