Whether the unification of the divine and the human nature actually took place in Christ can be decided only by historians, not philosophers. (Strauss, In Defense of My Life of Jesus, 18).
Whether the person of Jesus of Nazareth really possesses the attributes which belong to the established concept of the Redeemer is in fact a purely historical question, which can be answered only through an historical investigation of the literary sources of the Gospel stories. (Baur, cited in Baird, History, 1:260)
There are, in my opinion, at least two problems with these quotes:
- Both expect quite a bit out of historical investigation. How can trying to ascertain provable facts (as defined by nineteenth century standards) prove one way or another a proposition about Jesus that is beyond the limitations of Strauss' and Baur's sort of historical investigation, namely, the divinity of Jesus? By searching only for a particular set of data and excising the rest, Strauss and Baur succeeded in severing the Christ of faith from the Jesus of history.
- Both Strauss and Baur have a presupposition that they take with them to the texts about Jesus -- that the supernatural is not possible. So is it any surprise that the texts of the NT are stripped bare of almost all of their meaning by these scholars since these very texts are filled with the supernatural on virtually every page? Perhaps they would have been better served by being open to the possibility of something beyond the scope of human understanding!