Is there a general rule of thumb for how to use verb tenses when doing, for example, a literature review for how an idea is treated across history?
For example, I'm proof-reading a paper for a friend, and the bolded verbs in this paragraph seem incongruous to me:
When it came to the miraculous accounts of the Gospels, Strauss also endeavoured to find naturalistic explanations. Jesus may have believed he was performing exorcisms on demoniacs, but for Strauss these people must have been either mentally disturbed or epileptic. He writes, “Jesus cured many persons who suffered from supposed demoniacal insanity or nervous disorder, in a physical manner, by the ascendancy of his manner and words.” Regarding the resurrection and ascension of Christ, Strauss declares them to be “visions or hallucinations engendered by the enthusiasm of the disciples. The ascension, too, is declared to be a myth.” Lacking an explanation, he concludes, “No other rescue for this self-annihilation remains to the anti-supernatural mode of explanation, than to question the verbal accuracy of the history.”
So the writer is both talking about what the authors did and said: how they were received across history and various things they specifically say. One instinct I have is that one should at least use paragraph breaks to separate between using present and past tense regarding an author. Thoughts?