My new book, On the Historicity of Jesus, has passed peer review and is now under contract to be published by a major academic press specializing in biblical studies: Sheffield-Phoenix, a publishing house at the University of Sheffield (UK). I sought four peer review reports from major professors of New Testament or Early Christianity, and two have returned their reports, approving with revisions, and those revisions have been made. Since two peers is the standard number for academic publications, we can proceed. And Sheffield’s own peer reviewers have approved the text. Two others missed the assigned deadline, but I’m still hoping to get their reports and I’ll do my best to meet any revisions they require as well.
I have sent this information and more to my donors who funded my research for this project (which also produced my last book, Proving History, which set the stage for On the Historicity of Jesus). If any donors did not receive that email, please contact me right away (via firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll make sure you get a copy of that.
This is mostly good news.
The bad news is that academic publishing houses have long production timelines, so even though the book is done, it still won’t be available to the public until maybe February 2014 (six months being a common production schedule for an academic press). Also, I cannot predict when the electronic or audio editions will be available. (I’m still trying to get the audio rights for Proving History, so I can get that out on audio before the end of this year.) So even though the book is done, there will still be a long wait for it.
The publication title might also differ from the working title of On the Historicity of Jesus, and unlike some Sheffield-Phoenix releases, which come out in hardback at extreme prices and then in softback a year or two later (if ever), this will come out immediately in softback (either in lieu of or simultaneously with a hardback edition). Although that’s actually not bad news (in fact I requested it). Any hardback release will be priced over a hundred dollars; softback should be available at around thirty.
The good news is that I believe this will be the first comprehensive pro-Jesus myth book ever published by a respected academic press and under formal peer review. That lends considerable weight to the work and will gain it significant academic attention in the field. Indeed, apart from Brodie’s brief confessional treatise supportive of myth (but not comprehensively arguing for it), which was also published by Sheffield-Phoenix (Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus, released last year–see my review: Brodie on Jesus), I think this will be the first pro-Jesus myth book of any kind published by a university press in the last fifty years.
This is a big deal. And I have my donors to thank, who by getting me out of student debt made it possible for me to concentrate my energies on researching and writing these two books. They would not have been written otherwise. I would have wandered off onto some other project instead. This project has been rewarding and I’m very happy with the results.