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.
time and place. Given the rise of history as a critical, academic discipline in the West in the 19th century, any christology that seeks to be intellectually and academically respectable in a European-North American context must ask how it should incorporate insights from the third quest into its theological project.
I would suggest that one definite gain that must be incorporated is the last one I have listed, the true and thorough Jewishness of Jesus. From the Council of Chalcedon onwards, the touchstone of genuine Christian faith in Christ has been the formula "truly divine and truly human"56. Yet it is not too much of an exaggeration to say that, in defense of the "truly divine," the "truly human" has sometimes been obscured or swallowed up in a sort of crypto-monophysitism. What the third quest can supply as an aid to regaining the Chalcedonian balance is the firm basso continuo of "truly Jewish" as the concrete, historical expression and underpinning of the theological "truly human". To speak in Johannine terms: when the Word became flesh, the Word did not simply take on an all-purpose, generic, one-size-fits-all human nature. Such a view would not take seriously the radical historicity of both human existence and divine revelation. The Word became truly flesh insofar as the Word became truly Jewish. No true Jewishness, no true humanity. Hence, contrary to the charge that the high christology of orthodox Christianity necessarily leads to a covert theological anti-Semitism, I think that a proper understanding of the Chalcedonian formula, illuminated by the third quest, necessarily leads to a ringing affirmation of the Jewishness of the flesh the Word assumed. Even if the third quest has no other impact on contemporary christology, the emphatic reaffirmation of the Jewishness of Jesus will make the whole enterprise worthwhile. Something lasting will have been gained.