Let me add this “Appendix” onto the end of my recent two-part series on the importance of history in biblical studies, particularly in studying the Gospels (see “Why Christians Need History” and “Why the Quest for the Historical Jesus Matters”). If you’re interested in taking a closer look at these issues, principally (1) the quest, (2) the relationship between faith and history, (3) the historical accuracy of the Gospels or (4) Jesus’ first-century context, here are a few places where you might want to begin your research. If you’ve done a bit of digging in any of these areas and want to recommend a resource or two of your own, feel free to post a link to the resource in the comments.
(1) On the quest
Wright, N. T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Vol 2. Christian Origins and the Question of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996. (For a good entrée into Wright’s book, see his essay entitled “Whence and Whither Historical Jesus Studies in the Life of the Church?” [in Jesus, Paul, and the People of God: A Theological Dialogue with N. T. Wright [ed. Nicholas Perrin and Richard B. Hays; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2011], 115-58]” which was read at the Wheaton Theology Conference (2009). The audio of his talk is available here.
(2) On faith and history
Yarbrough, Robert W. The Salvation Historical Fallacy? Reassessing the History of New Testament Theology. History of Biblical Interpretation Series, 2. Leiden, The Netherlands: Deo Publishing, 2004.
(3) On the reliability of the Gospels’ history
Which gospels (canon)?
Bock, Darrell L. The Missing Gospels: Unearthing the Truth behind Alternative Christianities. Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson, 2006
Head, Peter M. How the New Testament Came Together. Grove Biblical Series. Cambridge: Grove Books, 2009.
Hill, Charles E. Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
History or something else (genre)?
Burridge, Richard A. What Are the Gospels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2004.
Why should I trust the Gospels’ history?
For an introductory survey, see
Bruce, F. F. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? 6th ed. Downers Grove Ill.: InterVarsity, 1981
Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels. 2nd ed. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2007.
For the case that the Gospels comprise eyewitness testimony, see
Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2006. For an abbreviated version of Bauckham’s argument, see his The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Grove Biblical Series; Cambridge: Grove Books, 2008). Bauckham also summarizes his book in this 10-minute video.
(4) On the historical context assumed by the Gospels
See the slightly expanded list of primary resources here. This list notes the standard critical eds., along with pointing out several web-based tools (e.g., a searchable bib. on Dead Sea Scroll studies). For an excellent introduction to these primary sources, see George W. E. Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah: A Historical and Literary Introduction (2nd ed.; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005).
New Revised Standard Version
New English Translation of the Septuagint (For the full-text, see NETS.)
Charles, R. H. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English. Oxford: Clarendon, 1913. (The full text is available here.)
For the texts in their original languages, see the Online Critical Pseudepigrapha.
A good place to start with Josephus is with Paul L. Maier’s Josephus: The Essential Works (rev. ed.; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel, 1995).
Dead Sea Scrolls
Vermes, Geza. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English. 4th ed. New York: Penguin Books, 2004.
Collins, John J., and Daniel C. Harlow, eds. The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2010.
Green, Joel B., and Scot McKnight, eds. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1992.
Related posts: See my earlier note on John J. Collins’ book about Jewish messianism entitled The Scepter and the Star.