Even fundamentalism, for all its official emphasis on “the Bible alone,” owes its end-time obsessions to the extracanonical innovations that Cyrus Scofield’s influential Study Bible wove into the scriptures it was supposedly dispassionately interpreting. “Unlike most commentators,” Paul Boyer points out in his history of end-times beliefs, When Time Shall Be No More (1994), “Scofield combined his notes and the biblical text on the same page, so the former took on much the same authority as the latter.” Both Jefferson and Scofield claimed to be reworking the New Testament based on pure reason and simple common sense, while Smith and White and Eddy and all the various spiritualists claimed to be taking divine dictation. To these tools for recovering the real Jesus, nineteenth-century European academics added a third, the historical-critical method. Their First Quest of the Historical Jesus, as it was later called, flowered in Germany and then spread across the Western world, promising to use the tools of scholarship to excavate the biblical narratives, reveal the layers of invention that lay atop the Jesus of history, and recover the truth about his life.
From Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthat.