Searching for Jesus

December 11, 1998 • Volume 8, Issue 46
Are scholars undermining Christians' faith?
By Kenneth Jost

Introduction

A crèche from Guatemala is among the nativity scenes on display at the Washington National Cathedral. (Washington National Cathedral) A crèche from Guatemala is among the nativity scenes on display at the Washington National Cathedral. (Washington National Cathedral)

Most Christians literally believe the biblical accounts of the miraculous birth of Jesus told every Christmas in homes around the world: the story of Joseph and Mary, the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem, the adoration of the shepherds and the Wise Men. Many religious scholars, however, view the traditional nativity story as myth rather than history. Some of these scholars want to use historical techniques to reconstruct the actual events of Jesus' life, ministry and death. Some say the “quest for the historical Jesus” can lead to a better understanding of Jesus' spiritual message and its relevance for today. But others say it diverts Christians from the essential beliefs -- and the central mystery -- of their faith.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jan. 2011  Crisis in the Catholic Church
Sep. 21, 2007  Rise of Megachurches
Sep. 14, 2001  Evangelical Christians
Feb. 26, 1999  Future of the Papacy
Dec. 11, 1998  Searching for Jesus
Jul. 22, 1988  The Revival of Religion in America
Dec. 02, 1983  Christmas Customs and Origins
Jun. 10, 1983  Martin Luther After 500 Years
Aug. 08, 1975  Year of Religion
Jul. 26, 1972  Fundamentalist Revival
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Nov. 11, 1964  Church Tax Exemption
Aug. 05, 1964  Catholic Schools
Oct. 14, 1963  Churches and Social Action
Jun. 19, 1963  Vatican Policy in a Revolutionary World
Jan. 05, 1962  Rome and Christian Unity
Mar. 26, 1958  Church-Related Education
Dec. 18, 1957  Church Consolidation
Jun. 05, 1957  Evangelism in America
Jun. 23, 1955  Religious Boom
Aug. 13, 1952  Church Unity in America
Feb. 12, 1947  Relations with the Vatican
Dec. 21, 1923  The New Schism in the Church and the Immaculate Conception
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