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Writing about the Historical Jesus: Historical Explanation and 'the Big Why Questions', or Antiquarian Empiricism and Victorian Tomes?

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This article points out that lives of Jesus have been dominated by individualism, fact-finding, exegesis and description. This stands in contrast to the ways in which historical reconstruction has been practised in other disciplines in the humanities and in contrast to the ways in which some biographers and historians see the role of the individual in historical change. Even when there have been attempts to use the social sciences in historical Jesus studies, if the result is not merely descriptive and exegetical, then the reception of such approaches in scholarship still tends to focus on the individual reconstructed rather than on potential methodological developments relating to historical change. This article will suggest ways in which the individual and descriptive emphases can be complemented by wider ranging socio-historical reconstructions designed to explain historical change, or, more generally, how we get from Jesus to Christian origins.


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