Review: 40 Questions About the Historical Jesus

9780825442841There have been literally thousands of volumes written on the subject of the Historical Jesus over the past two centuries. The reader can find anything from multi-volume scholarly monographs and encyclopedias to popular level introductions. Still, there have also been few resources that have presented the Historical Jesus material in the same helpful manner as that found in the present volume by C. Marvin Pate

40 Questions About the Historical Jesus is divided into four major sections: (1) Background Questions About the “Historical” Jesus, (2) Questions About Jesus’ Birth and Childhood, (3) Questions About Jesus’ Life and Teaching, and (4) Questions About Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection. Each of these major sections is comprised of two subdivisions and roughly ten questions relating to the life and ministry of Jesus.

The selection of questions and overall organization of the book is oriented to introduce the reader to a variety of topics related to Historical Jesus studies. Throughout the book, the reader will discover a number of helpfully curated charts and diagrams, and each of the chapters closes with a handful of reflection questions for further pondering. The interaction within each chapter is fair and balanced, and Pate does well in presenting the broader landscape of Historical Jesus studies to readers with all levels of topical exposure.

The comprehensive scope of this volume is incredible. Pate was very ambitious in his selection of material and the reader will benefit greatly therein. Pate’s work is consistently documented and footnoted throughout, and the inclusion of the select bibliography and source indexes will make this a useful volume for future reference. Still, the bibliography that is provided is quite scant in comparison to the interaction throughout. A good addition would have been a designated bibliography at the end of each chapter.

If you are looking for a helpful and unique resource that will reach across the breadth of Historical Jesus studies, 40 Questions About the Historical Jesus by C. Marvin Pate is a volume that cannot be ignored. It is up-to-date and engaging, and the questions therein usher the reader through an ongoing conversation of vital importance. This book was a joy to read and I look forward to consulting it often. It comes highly recommended!


I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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