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The Fiction of the 'Three Quests': An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Historiographical Paradigm

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Understanding the history of Jesus research through the 'Three Quests' paradigm ('Old Quest', 'New Quest' and 'Third Quest') has become widespread—and even taken for granted—in the guild of New Testament scholars. In recent years, however, that taxonomy has raised several cogent criticisms. Nonetheless, there are apologists who keep this interpretive paradigm alive and well. This article aims at revisiting the Three Quests typology in order to assess its explanatory value. It identifies the assertions and assumptions (and even implicit value judgments) of this typology, arguing that not one of them withstands critical examination because they are all built on arbitrary grounds and are refuted by literary evidence or by sound reasoning. Furthermore, the article contains an argument suggesting that this historiographical construct could serve certain ideological (more specifically, theological) interests.


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