Search the Site


Was There a Historical Jesus?

Well, I… like everyone, I’m endlessly fascinated and curious about the historical study of the Gospels, what really happened, what actually took place, what, what, what really went on.  But, I will confess that I am someone agnostic about it; in other words, there have been moments when I found the most radical mythicist approach quite persuasive; that is, that after all as they point out, um, that in Paul, we basically have no sense of Jesus as an individual, as a human being, no stories, no cries, no personality at all, and that’s the earliest stuff we have.  So, the claim that the first, that in its first efflorescence there was no guy there; it’s not unpersuasive at all.  Uh, and at other times, it seems to me and on the whole I tend to settle in my own amateurish way on the idea that there seems to be a real guy back there someplace.  It’s hard to credit the notion that you could invent somebody as recognizably human that’s as complicated and multifaceted as the Jesus of the Gospels by will, that you could will that kind of person into existence.  

  • Adam Gopnik

    Adam Gopnik is a staff writer for The New Yorker  magazine. His recent books of essays include Paris to the Moon (2000) and Through the Children’s Gate (2006).