Jesus of Nazareth
The scholar Ratzinger bravely declares that he and not the Pope is the author of the book and that everyone is free to contradict him
By Pope Benedict XVI, reviewed by Geza Vermes
It's a very interesting review of a book I have not read myself, but what caught my interest in the review was Geza Vermes's characterization of Historical Jesus research, which works first with the common usage of the terminology "no quest" for the 1920s to the 1950s, and then with Tom Wright's term "third quest" for the breakthroughs of the 1970s and 1980s, with himself and E. P. Sanders as the major figures in it:
. . . . However, despite Schweitzer’s funeral oration, the historical Jesus refused to lie down. Around 1950, a new attempt to retrieve him was launched in Germany by Bultmann’s pupils, who reemployed the form-critical method in the pursuit of historical research. The “new” or “second quest” went on for some 20 years without much success. It coincided with the years of Joseph Ratzinger’s theological studies. However, he did not specialise as a Neutesta-mentler, but as a patristic scholar and dogmatic theologian.I think that's a great summary, with two qualifications (cf. posts here on the History of the Quest). First, I agree with Dale Allison that the period of "no quest" is a mirage and second, the term "third quest" may now have outlived its usefulness, especially having been co-opted by others who are not on the same trajectory as Vermes and Sanders. But my reason for commenting on it is that it is interesting seeing a pioneer of that quest characterizing it in this way.
The 1970s and 1980s introduced the “third quest”. By then, the dominance of German professors, with Hellenistic expertise to deal with Greek Gospels but without direct familiarity with the Jewish world of the age of Jesus, came to an end. They were replaced by British and American scholars concerned with the discovery, partly associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls, of the “Jewish” Jesus. The literary landmarks of the new era were Jesus the Jew (1973) by your reviewer and Jesus and Judaism (1986) by E. P. Sanders, both professors at Oxford. In no time, the search for the Jewish Jesus became dominant worldwide.