I believe searching for the historical Jesus can only enrich our understanding of Jesus, especially after reading Marcus Borg and Hudson Smith.
In his introduction to this book Marcus Borg calls Jesus the single most important person in the history of Western culture. He states it is remarkable that 2000 years after he lived, a Jewish peasant from Nazareth continues to be such a significant figure in today's world. As part of a group of Religious scholars, Borg is attempting to explore how Jesus is perceived, and to find who Jesus was and what could be said about him as he turns 2,000.
Borg makes it a point to explain that even scholars can only view things from our own vantage point in time and space. He goes on to say that our seeing is profoundly affected by the vantage point from which we view things, and admits that his approach is shaped by his awareness of religious pluralism and cultural relativism that has intensified for most people as the twentieth century has come to an end.
Any search for the historical Jesus will largely dependent on the Gospels of the New Testament, to this Borg explains; the Gospels were put into written form during the decades between the death of Jesus and the crystallization of the traditions about Jesus in written form (from about 70 and 100 C.E.). To attempt to search for Jesus through the Gospels, one must first discern which parts of the Gospels are truly the voice of Jesus, and which are the voice of the community. Both voices are important, for the voice of the community tells us what Jesus had become in the experiences of those who followed him.
Borg chooses to look at the birth of Jesus, and its varying accounts in the...