I've written and edited several books against the Christian faith. So when I bought this book I was only expecting to learn a few things. What I didn't expect was how much I would learn, which was quite a lot. Most of the book simply compares and contrasts the gospels and lets them debunk themselves. It's densely packed with scholarly references and fairly easy to read. His book brings the reader up to speed regarding higher criticism, and deconstructs the gospels like no other book I've read. It's too bad many Christians won't get it and read it. Many of them will simply dismiss it because Wells had been the leading Jesus mythicist of our generation. But he has "repudiated" (p. 334) his former view and now thinks there was a Galilean Jew who did in fact exist, whose sayings are found in Q, the lost document that most scholars conjecture formed the basis for the synoptic gospels. Very highly recommended! It's very impressive. To wannabe Christian apologists I challenge you to read and argue against it. On the gospels you won't find anything better.
All I can say about this book is that is is a thorough and meticulous survey of higher critical scholarship since it's onset. As a subject whose discoveries and propositions have been mostly ignored by mainstream NT studies, seeing it's accumulated accomplishments in one volume like this is very powerful. It seems to me that it shows how a very rigorous subset of academics can turn an entire field on its head with solid logic and persuasive analysis without anyone ever knowing it...or at least very few knowing it. I highly recommend this book for anyone stuck in the Ehrman/Crossan range of mainstream consensus interpretations as I used to be. This book opens up so many fascinating and plausible alternative possibilties concerning the interpretation and evaluation of NT accounts of Jesus and their origins. For someone who, deep-down, is emotionally dependent on his or her belief in the Jesus that they learned about in church, then this book is a waste of time because you will find fallacious reasons to dismiss it, so as to retain your cozy paradigm. But for everyone else with any interest at all in historical Jesus research or New Testament Studies in general, this book is a gold mine that will probably change your whole point of view. A Most Excellent Volume!!
The first book to read if you ask does the Bible give a firm foundation for Christian faith. Wells, raised Christian, has devoted enormous study and writing to this issue. He cites a great number of Bible scholars fairly and critically. This may be the last book you need to read on the subject. He has altered his earlier view that Jesus of Nazareth is a mythical figure. There was a Galilean preacher, but almost nothing the Bible or church says about him is true -- pretty much the position of Bart Ehrman and many other Bible scholars. Many preachers know this and don't believe everything they preach. It is an untenable situation.
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The notes are instructive, and tightly to the point, without useless verbiage: no flights of fantasy or high-school teaching for adults. There are some mildly ironic comments about the absurdities of some claims. But Wells remains an English gentleman throughout. The overall effect is more elite learning than easy popular reading for bed or the beach.
WELLS, AT 83, IS NEARLY CAPPING 60 YEARS OF RESEARCH IN NT STUDY
Few can boast a similar encyclopedic knowledge of all the aspects of NT interpretation and exegesis of its controversial, and even bewildering, points.
Wells has always paid close attention to the most up-to-date scholarship of Christian theologians and to opposing or alternate views. And he always shows genuine delight when he finds endorsements for his own critical views from dedicated historicists or frank apologists.
He only deplores the growing tendency of eisegesis (wild speculations and out-of-control subjective interpretations), the deluge of useless literature on Jesus published every year by writers and academics who rake their brains to find some new angle. [10,000 English titles on Christianity per year!Read more ›