I was running out of reading material last week, so I took the subway down to Crux Books*, and picked up a copy of Dale C. Allison Jr.'s The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009). I soon realized I had already listened to an audio version narrated by Allison himself. In the introduction, Allison explains "I wrote this book in preparation for the Kenneth W. Clark lectures, which I delivered at Duke University in February of 2008." The lectures were recorded, and are still available online here.
The book is short, and worth reading (or listening to) twice. Allison is one of my favourite New Testament scholars. I like his bracing honesty; I resonate with his "doubt seeking understanding," though I prefer to doubt less--or less confidently--than he does; and I admire the depth and breadth of his knowledge: I recall Allison saying once that he learns more from reading outside the guild of biblical studies than he does within it--but when he writes on a subject within biblical studies you can be sure he has read virtually all there is to read on it. In a Christianity Today cover article announcing the "death of latest historical Jesus studies as we know them," Scot McKnight refers to Allison as "the most knowledgeable New Testament scholar in the United States" (page 4). In his blurb on the back of Allison's book, McKnight says: "In the last 125 years there have been five truly epochal thinkers who altered the course of Jesus researcH: Martin Kähler, Albert Schweitzer, Rudolf Bultmann, Ernst Käsemann--and the fifth one is Dale Allison." High praise, though I'm puzzled that E.P. Sanders didn't make the cut.
If you read Allison, you should also listen to Richard Hays's recent response to N.T. Wright, which raises similar questions about the uneasy relationship between history and theology, but which places rather more emphasis on theology than on history as it is conventionally understood.
*In case you are wondering what I am doing in the land of subways and Crux Books, I have spent the last week in Toronto hanging out with my dad, and visiting my mom in the hospital. Thankfully, there has been time to read and listen to a few Wheaton conference podcasts in evenings, during the daytime when Mom naps, and while traveling to and fro. My current goal is to complete book #4 on Tuesday's return flight.