The Fourth Quest for the Historical Jesus?

I am teaching "Jesus and the Gospels" this semester, and on Tuesday I was discussing the Third Quest with my students. As I spoke, I realized that we have really entered the Fourth Quest, which I think can be defined as a reaction to the Third Quest, particularly the notion that Jesus can be from first century Palestine but look nothing (or very little) like other Jews from his era.

So I am beginning to bundle the Third Quest in terms of the 1980s and 1990s, dominated by the work of Crossan, Borg, Patterson, Funk, Mack, Downing and the Jesus Seminar, but also including Horsley, Kaylor, Witherington, Meier, and so forth.

The Fourth Quest appears to me to be reactionary and pushes several items to the forefront.
  • Jesus is a Jew
  • there is an apocalyptic dimension to Jesus' teaching (as in, the world is coming to a quick end) that cannot be dismissed
  • there are serious problems with the dissimilarity principle and it should be replaced with or corrected by a criterion of historical plausibility or incremental change - that there must be connections between Jesus and Judaism and between Jesus and the early Church
  • there is an experiential aspect to Jesus' mission that we must address
  • the historical Jesus cannot continue to look like or sound like a hippy from the 1960s or a college professor
  • we have to take seriously studies in orality
There is no clean line to the beginning of the Fourth Quest. Some scholars like Alan Segal, Maurice Casey, E. P. Sanders, and Jimmy Dunn already were sounding some of these warnings in their writings before 2000. But I see a real movement now in scholarship (thank goodness) to address these issues as a community of scholars. So I think we are in a Fourth Quest with the work of Bart Ehrman, Dale Allison, Paula Fredriksen, A.J. Levine, Jimmy Dunn (I'm thinking particularly of his book, Jesus Remembered) and Gerd Theissen (I'm thinking particularly of his book co-authored with Dagmar Winter, The Quest for the Plausible Jesus). I would also put N.T. Wright in this category, although his work is too apologetic for me.