The inaugural gathering of The Jesus Project, a group of biblical scholars and academics in related disciplines embarking on a five-year quest to unearth the historical Jesus, took place in Amherst, N.Y. December 5th through 7th. Historian R. Joseph Hoffman, Chair of The Scientific Committee for the Study of Religion (CSER), the Jesus Project's sponsor, describes the group's intent and operating principles on its website.
The Jesus Project, as CSER has named the new effort, is the first methodologically agnostic approach to the question of Jesus' historical existence. But we are not neutral, let alone willfully ambiguous, about the objectives of the project itself. We believe in assessing the quality of the evidence available for looking at this question before seeing what the evidence has to tell us. We do not believe the task is to produce a "plausible" portrait of Jesus prior to considering the motives and goals of the Gospel writers in telling his story. We think the history and culture ...1