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Did Jesus Exist? Paperback – February 1, 1987

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (February 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879753951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879753955
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #604,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By T. F. Rhoden on May 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Wells does a pretty simple thing here, but he does it well and he does it thoroughly. He takes the first four chapters of the New Testament (using the original Greek texts) and cross references it with other accounts of that time (Roman and Jewish sources). Nothing spectacular here, just good research and some decent historical work.

Because of his thoroughness, the reader is very early on faced with the obvious fact that there is completely no historicity at all for this fellow named Jesus in the New Testament. If you are into the whole faith thing, then of course this is no problem. Faith is faith is faith--that wonderful admission that pesky things like facts and logic and evidence and putting them all together to come to some sort of coherent conclusion is, well, not so important.

But, instead if you are into thinking stuff through, it is hard to walk away from this text and still admit that this guy ever existed, let alone did all those magic tricks: making some tasty wine from water, being born from someone who had never broken her hymen, busting out of his grave to make a short reunion tour before floating up, up and away on a fluffy, snow-white cloud.

The chapter on Pagan and Jewish Background was probably my favorite.

I should warn though that the text is a bit dry, but it makes for awesome reference. If I ever crack it open again it will be for that reason.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book deserves a 5-star rating for its content and a 1-star for the physical product, justifying an average rating of 3 stars.

Bart Ehrman, champion of Jesus's historicity, called G.A. Wells, the BEST-KNOWN JESUS'S EXISTENCE DENIER OF MODERN TIMES, and (rightly) called DJE? his MOST THOROUGH AND EXTENSIVE ARGUMENTATION OF JESUS DENIAL. Nobody has done better, and everybody else has copied his arguments. And Ehrman copied the title for his own refutal.

The content of this book is superb, the argumentation for Wells's thesis is fascinating and instructive. It is also an important book, since it was the opportunity for Wells to face all the criticisms raised by his first, sensational book, "The Jesus of the early Christians: A study in Christian origins" (1971) ["JEC"].

"Did Jesus Exist?" (1975) ["DJE?"] was Wells's second book, followed by Wells's third, "The Historical Evidence for Jesus" (1982) ["HEJ"]. Wells brought some refinements to the original argumentation of JEC.
Wells was happy enough with his DJE? (1975) to allow a second, "revised, corrected, and expanded", edition, DJE? (1987), which could now include references to the previous HEJ (1982). The cover of this DJE? (1987) said that the first book, JEC (1971), "has been superseded by the two successors". All the page references below are to this 2d edition, DJE? (1987).

Soon after, with bolstered confidence in the reception of his thesis by publishers and the public, Wells produced a 2d ed. of HEJ (1988).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Derek Murphy on August 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
There's no easy answer to the riddle of the historical Jesus. I've been trying for a decade to put the pieces together ([...]), and still feel like I've just scratched the surface. Wells take on the issue is well reasoned and provides a lot of evidence. Worth reading for the content and strong writing, even if you disagree with the conclusion.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on July 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
George Albert Wells (born 1926) is an Emeritus Professor of German at Birkbeck, University of London. He also wrote books such as The Historical Evidence for Jesus, Who Was Jesus?, The Jesus Legend, etc. This 1986 edition is a revision of his 1975 book.

He wrote in the Introduction, "In my earlier book, The Jesus of the early Christians: A study in Christian origins... my purpose was to show the difficulties and problems which arise when the gospels are interpreted as historical records, and how Christianity could have arisen even had there been no historical Jesus... In the present book I discuss... more fully... the gospel evidence for Jesus' existence... In this present book, I try to indicate more fully what motives led to their [gospels'] composition." (Pg. 2-3)

Of the quotations in Josephus [The Works of Flavius Josephus, Vol. IV], he comments, "In Josephus' entire work the word 'Christ' occurs only in the two passages about Jesus and his brother James. This hardly strengthens the case for their authenticity... The words have the character of a brief marginal gloss, later incorporated innocently into the text.
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