On May 15, 2012, New Oxonian will play host to a short consortium on the historical Jesus.  The discussion centers on recent attempts by internet bloggers to enter the scholarly arena on the subject.

The Jesus Process is the beginning of an international consultation of scholars who are taking up the Jesus question anew. The first collection of essays by consultation members will be published in the winter of 2013.

I am happy to use this opportunity to announce the project, which will be dedicated to promoting the highest standards in the non-parochial investigation of Christian origins.  The work of the project, including information about how you can become associated with it, will be available on its new website on June 15, 2012.

Any questions can be addressed to me as comments on this site or to


R. Joseph Hoffmann




18 thoughts on “THE JESUS PROCESS

  1. Von Hans-Georg Weiske, Frankenberger Straße 16, D-09661 Hainichen

    An Herrn R. Joseph Hoffmann,

    Sehr geehrter Herr Hoffmann,

    in einem Internetbeitrag wurde Ihr Name erwähnt. Dort stand, dass Sie die ehemalige Existenz eines historischen Jesus vertreten. Jetzt bin ich auf diese Internetseite gestoßen.
    Die letzten Jahre habe ich damit verbracht, ein populärwissenschaftliches Buch über die tatsächlichen Gründe der Entstehung der christlichen Religion zu schreiben.
    Dabei war es mir wichtig, den historischen Jesus von Nazareth, vor allem dessen eigentlichen Funktion und politischen Auftrag in der Geschichte des 1. Jahrhunderts unserer Zeitrechnung herauszuarbeiten.
    Es ist ein reines Geschichtsbuch geworden, obwohl es sich außer auf Josephus vor allem auf die Texte des Neuen Testamentes stützt.
    In Deutschland sind die Ergebnisse solcher Recherchen unerwünscht, so dass dieses Buch nur als Nischenprodukt für Insider gehandelt wird.
    Aber sogar der ehemalige Vorsitzende der Evangelischen Kirchen Deutschlands, Herr Dr. Wolfgang Huber, hat mir schriftlich bestätigt, dass er von diesem Buch beeindruckt war, obwohl es fast allem widerspricht, worauf die theologische Lehre des Christentums sich stützt, aber eine Menge bisher ungelöster Fragen und Probleme über die historischen Zwänge beantwortet, deren Lösung über die Theologie nicht zugänglich sind oder mit Denkverbot belegt sind.
    Auch der Arbeitskreis zur Neufassung der Lutherbibel gab mir positive Rückmeldungen.
    Es handelt sich um das von mir unter meinem Pseudonym Georg Naundorfer herausgegebene Buch:

    Georg Naundorfer
    Das Projekt Jesus Christus – Die Geburt einer Religion
    ISBN 978-3-8391-3064-3
    Books on Demand Norderstedt
    Letzte überarbeitete Ausgabe: 2011 (496 S.)

    (Kostenlose Rezensionsexemplare über:, oder

    Das Buch ist vom Dienstleister-Verlag BoD für die USA und Kanada im Handelsangebot, bisher aber nur in Deutsch erhältlich. Die meisten Internetbuchhändler führen es als Paperback und auch als eBook.
    Ich bin der Ansicht, dass ein solches Buch als aufklärende Schrift für den Menschen unserer Zeit sehr nötig ist und auch Ihren Ideen unterstützende Hilfe sein kann.
    Schon eine Ihrerseitige empfehlende Rezension würde mir sehr helfen.
    In der Hoffnung auf Ihre geschätzte Antwort und eventuelle Unterstützung, verbleibe ich:

    Mit freundlichen Grüßen

    Hans-Georg Weiske (Georg Naundorfer)

    • Hi James, The JP funding was cut in 2008 shortly after the Amherst conference because of retrenchment at CFI. It is for all practical purposes a dead horse. Officially there is no relation, and in addition the participating scholars will address a slightly different range of issues–processes rather than whethers–those to be announced in about three weeks! You are most welcome to join!!!


  2. This promises to be an amazingly great piece of scholarship.

    Anybody who has read Mr. Hoffman’s superb foreword to GA Wells book ‘The Jesus Legend’ will be aware of the vast scholarship, superbly marshalled data and polished writing skills that he can bring to any project.

    • Hot gossip by Ben Schuldt reports that he “contacted DJ Grothe who confirmed that everyone at CSI believed Hoffmann was a mythicist at the time of the interview.” It’s amusing, watching a dead horse flogged. DJ Grothe? That’s funny. The problem with alot of people who hold strong convictions is that they can only understand things in black and white terms. Has Hoffmann ever written that ‘Jesus did not exist’? No. Sure, sometimes myth theories can be a gift of light relief in contrast to some of the bizarre theories of fundamentalists.

      Ben continues: “Also Neil Godfrey and Steven Carr point out that Hoffmann wrote the forward to GA Wells mythicist book “The Jesus Legend” without mentioning how bogus the theory must have been.” Why on earth would R.J. Hoffmann write a foreword for an important work in the history of scholarship by a serious scholar of German literature, and write a critical review instead of a foreword to a gentleman?

      • “DJ Grothe who confirmed that everyone at CSI believed…” a whole lot of fundamentalists believe that Obama is a Muslim. A whole lot of fundamentalists believe that climate change isn’t happening. A whole lot of fundamentalists believe that God created the world in seven days, and a whole lot of sheep follow the Judas ram up the ramp in the slaughter house.

  3. The label ‘The Jesus Process’ should be self explanatory. It will be a process of historical enquiry conducted by group of independent critical scholars from around the world. It is not a ‘piece’ but a ‘process’ of scholarly enquiry.

    R.J. Hoffmann has published a number of academic works for which scholarship is grateful. He has also republished ‘Jesus the Nazarene’ by Maurice Goguel, supplying an outstanding introduction, and he has written an excellent foreword for George A. Wells’ book ‘The Jesus Legend’. Goguel’s work was considered one of the most important rebuttals of the early twentieth century, of the Jesus-myth theory, and Wells, who was a professor of German, was an important representative of the Jesus-myth theory, repeating much previous German scholarship, before the Jesus-myth theory was exploited by atheist evangelists. Therefore scholarship has benefited greatly by the publication and availability of both ‘pieces’ of scholarship.

    Scholarship needs the publication of all real academic work, regardless of agreement or not, and even precisely because of disagreement, in order to keep inspired the critical spirit of debate and make progress in knowledge.

    So glad you appreciate it Steve Cart, just a pity you can’t spell.

  4. A lot of people will have found Maurice Casey’s comments on page 33 of his ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ book very confusing.

    Could you clarify for us exactly why Professor Casey was right to state what he did about Hoffman on that page?

    At first glance, it looks as though Professor Casey may have been wrong.

    But that is probably me misreading his comments.

    • ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ went off to press before it was announced that the Jesus Project was defunct. Is that confusing? Casey wrote: “The formation of another American social subgroup was recently announced, but when this was written it was not clear that it would go ahead. This was the Jesus Project. It’s Chair was R. Joseph Hoffman (sic) and one of his co-chairs was R.M. Price, who does not believe in hte existence of the historical Jesus. The question ‘Did Jesus exist?’ seemed likely to be of central importance to it, though professional scholars generally regard it as having been settled in serious scholarship long ago.” There is a footnote reference to S.J. Case, M. Goguel, with new introduction by R Joseph Hoffmann etc. It seems clear that Robert Price was a leading member of the Jesus Project, the future of which was unclear at the time. Casey discusses Price further in his book. Confusing?

    • Steve Car:

      It would help prevent you from finding it “confusing” and prevent you from “misreading” if you (and “a lot of people”) read Casey’s whole book, from beginning to end in hard copy. This would help you realise that the point of mentioning the Jesus Project was to introduce Price, Zindler and Detering, who had managed to become involved.

      Bruce Chilton is a former Jesus seminar fellow, and when he wrote this in January 2009 (not long before Casey’s book went to press), a member of the Jesus Project. Chilton says:

      “Unfortunately, however, the Project has attempted to address questions of critical approach without a thorough grounding in academic study since the eighteenth century. The result is that some of the assertions made by contributors to the Project are not well informed and invoke quests for “objectivity” that seem more at home in nineteenth-century Europe than in twenty-first century America. What is more worrying, actual knowledge of primary sources (and of their languages) does not seem as great among participants in the Project as among Fellows of the Seminar…. Further, the Project has focused on an incoherent set of some of the least important questions in scholarship. For example, it keeps asking “Did Jesus exist?” as if that issue had not been raised repeatedly during the past two centuries and yet also features James Cameron’s film, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” which has been thoroughly discredited as an archaeological travesty…. The Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion has put its reputation on the line in sponsoring “The Jesus Project,” but so far amateurism, special interest advocacy, and a lack of critical focus have undermined a commendably earnest intent. Anyone who has followed the work of “The Jesus Seminar” should have learned long ago that Fundamentalists are not the only partisans who permit their wishes to cloud what they see and that it takes more than a declaration of “objectivity” to acquire the discipline of reasoning from evidence, both textual and archaeological.”

      I recommend this whole very good essay and suggest you read it from beginning to end.

  5. From Maurice Casey’s ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ (T&T Clark, 2010), on page 33:
    “The formation of another American social subgroup was recently announced, but when this was written it was not clear that it would go ahead. This was the Jesus Project. It’s Chair was R. Joseph Hoffman (sic) and one of his co-chairs was R.M. Price, who does not believe in the existence of the historical Jesus. The question ‘Did Jesus exist?’ seemed likely to be of central importance to it, though professional scholars generally regard it as having been settled in serious scholarship long ago.”
    (footnote reference S. J. Case, M. Goguel, with new intro by R Joseph Hoffmann etc)

    Perfectly clear. Maurice Casey introduced Robert Price, who does not believe in the existence of the historical Jesus, and who appeared to have a major position in the Jesus Project which we now know is defunct. Casey discusses Price further in his book. Confused?

    • Yes, a very good discussion indeed… Not a “flame” at all…

      As a non-religious (not an atheist), it doesn’t matter to me weather Jesus was a historical person or not. But he was, anyway…. And anyway, this doesn’t matter xD

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