And no, I've never read anything by "Acharya S." and, as long as I retain even a tenuous grip on sanity, never will.
But if you're asking about "Jesus Minimalism", the conviction that we actually know next to nothing with certainty about the historical person(s) on which the literary Jesus has been largely fabricated... well, I'll put my hand up on that charge and plead guilty. Bring out the thumb screws if you must!
Now to confess specifics. I have two such
Thomas Brodie and Bob Price have, one suspects, not a lot in common.
Thomas L. Brodie is Director, Dominican Biblical Centre, Limerick, Ireland. After studies in Dublin, Rome, and Jerusalem, he spent thirty years teaching and researching at diverse seminaries and universities in the West Indies, the United States, and South Africa. He is the author of The Quest for the Origin of John's Gospel: A Source-Oriented Approach (OUP, 1992), The Gospel according to John: A Literary and Theological Commentary (OUP, 1993), and, as a forerunner to the present work, The Crucial Bridge: The Elijah–Elisha Narrative as an Interpretive Synthesis of Genesis–Kings and a Literary Model for the Gospels (Liturgical Press, 2000).And Bob, a.k.a. the Bible Geek, is... Bob. A prolific author and speaker, he has a PhD in Systematic Theology, and a second in New Testament, both from Drew University.
Both have new books out, the very ones referred to above. Brodie's is entitled Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery. Price's is The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul.
I'm not sure how Holy Mother Church will feel about the first one.
In the past forty years, while historical-critical studies were seeking with renewed intensity to reconstruct events behind the biblical texts, not least the life of Jesus, two branches of literary studies were finally reaching maturity. First, researchers were recognizing that many biblical texts are rewritings or transformations of older texts that still exist, thus giving a clearer sense of where the biblical texts came from; and second, studies in the ancient art of composition clarified the biblical texts' unity and purpose, that is to say, where biblical texts were headed. The primary literary model behind the gospels, Brodie argues, is the biblical account of Elijah and Elisha, as R.E. Brown already saw in 1971. In this fascinating memoir of his life journey, Tom Brodie, Irishman, Dominican priest, and biblical scholar, recounts the steps he has taken, in an eventful life in many countries, to his conclusion that the New Testament account of Jesus is essentially a rewriting of the Septuagint version of the Hebrew Bible, or, in some cases, of earlier New Testament texts. Jesus' challenge to would-be disciples (Luke 9.57-62), for example, is a transformation of the challenge to Elijah at Horeb (1 Kings 19), while his journey from Jerusalem and Judea to Samaria and beyond (John 2.23-4.54) is deeply indebted to the account of the journey of God's Word in Acts 1-8. The work of tracing literary indebtedness and art is far from finished but it is already possible and necessary to draw a conclusion: it is that, bluntly, Jesus did not exist as a historical individual. This is not as negative as may at first appear. In a deeply personal coda, Brodie begins to develop a new vision of Jesus as an icon of God's presence in the world and in human history.When I mentioned Brodie's book in an earlier posting it provoked dismissive snorts from certain quarters, but I for one am eager to see how a priest can embrace such a non-historicist position.
As for Amazing Colossal Apostle, this is the one many of us have been waiting for. Price has reached some radical (and largely unpalatable) conclusions on the Pauline literature, but has never yet - to my knowledge - drawn it all together in one place. You can almost hear the wailing and gibbering from saintly scholars as they gather their wagons around the sacred consensus. Price has fronted at last, but has he carried it off?
Time will tell.