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Controversy, Mythicism, and the Historical Jesus
© 2012 R. Joseph Hoffmann
While the New Testament offers the most extensive evidence for the existence of the historical Jesus, the writings are subject to a number of conditions that have dictated both the form and content of the traditions they have preserved. These conditions did not disappear with the writing of the first gospel, nor even with the eventual formation of the New Testament canon. They were expressly addressed by Christian writers in the second and third century who saw an incipient mythicism as a threat to the integrity of the message about Jesus. The history of this controversy is long, complex, and decisive with respect to the “question” of Jesus.
The process through which the memory of Jesus was preserved was a reflexive attempt to relay what was known and what was believed about him, while at the same time…
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