This letter appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
No doubts about an historical Jesus
It was in the 18th century that theologians in the European universities began analysing the four canonical gospels, partly in order to answer the question, "What did Jesus actually do and say?"
It led to redaction criticism; more simply, a study of the particular editorial intentions of the writers.
This in turn meant categorising the literature into various forms; for instance teachings, healing stories, parables, sayings and so on.
However, the most significant aspect was considered to be the kerygma – a Greek word referring to aspects that proclaimed Jesus as Lord.
In effect this was a sort of basic creed of the early church which is referring to Jesus both as messiah and risen Lord.
Since Mark's gospel was considered to be the first and generally thought to be written some 30 years after Jesus's death, then the period between the two events, known as the early church, had a particular fascination.
It was seen to be a dynamic period in which believers were baptised into the life, death and resurrection of their Lord and then partook of the eucharist, the celebration of the Last Supper.
In all, it was in this community of faith that the gospels were written, large parts coming down initially by way of an oral tradition.
As such it is maintained by scholars that what we have in the gospels is the Jesus of faith of the early community, making it almost impossible to separate this Jesus from the one of history.
However, more significantly regarding recent letters on this issue, I have never read of any serious criticism of the existence of a Jesus in Palestine at the time in question – the Jesus of history – who was teacher, preacher and said by some to be healer, who met death by way of crucifixion.
David Abbott, Stoke Golding