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.
within the corpus of Jewish Scriptures, one must ask what books seem to have shaped Jesus message the most. Certainly, Isaiah and the Psalms appear to be better candidates than Leviticus and Chronicles.
At the same time, we cannot think of Jesus endlessly poring over scrolls like some scribe housed at Qumran or in Jerusalem. Much of the Jewish Scriptures probably entered his memory and imagination through public reading and preaching. In turn, we must ask what interpretive, homiletic, or midrashic traditions mediated the Scriptures to Jesus. Are we to look primarily at what we call the Old Testament pseudepigrapha of an early date, or at some of the writings from Qumran that do not seem to be distinctive of that community but rather reflect widely disseminated ideas at the time, or should we look into the future, to the classical Targums or the early rabbinic literature, with all the massive problems of dating that involves50?
On the other hand, to what extent should we presuppose that Jesus had contact with the hellenized cities of Galilee like Sepphoris, the subject of much recent archaeological work, publication, and speculation51? Are we to imagine that he imbibed Greek culture at the Sepphoris theater? Or should we take seriously the gospel picture, in which Jesus frequents Jewish towns and villages in Galilee but is never active in any large hellenized city in Palestine with the obvious exception of Jerusalem52? This in turn raises the question of the validity of the whole approach of some members of the Jesus Seminar, who have so emphasized the pagan Greco-Roman background of Jesus life and preaching and his similarity to a wandering Cynic philosopher that some of the Seminars opponents have accused them of engaging in a new de-Judification of Jesus53.