131 of 148 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2000
JUF is a book that simply needs to be read by all, Christian and skeptic alike. Ten evangelical scholars come togher to refute the naturalistic assumptions of the Jesus Seminar, as well as provide positive evidence for the traditional, orthodox belief in Jesus.
In the introduction, Moreland and Wilkins ask: Can we know anything about Jesus?; Are the biblical records of Jesus' activities accurate?; Is the supernatural possible in ancient and modern times? If the answer to these questions is 'yes', then believing that Jesus is Messiah becomes reasonable. Determining the answers to these questions requires the proper use of historiography and logical reasoning, not a vague 'faith' that has no basis in reality (after all, if Jesus never existed, believing that he did is simply idiotic). Throughout the book, the contributors emphasize the importance of truth and reason for religious belief.
In ch.1, Craig Blomberg begins by examining the methodology of the Jesus Seminar and finds it lacking. He then provides evidence to support the historical reliability of the gospel accounts. In Ch.2, Scot McKnight takes a look at the history of Jesus scholarship and the varying descriptions that have been offered (Jesus as Sage or Social Revolutionary). He goes on to sketch a view of Jesus based on broad scholarly consensus.
In ch.3, Darrell Bock looks at the words of Jesus. Are the words ascribed to Jesus exact quotes(ipissima verba)? Or are they 'his very voice'(ipissima vox)? He draws a distinction between having the precise words of Jesus and having his voice (the intent and meaning) in an accurate summary. In Ch. 4, Craig Evans presents a case for the authenticity of the deeds of Jesus as recorded in the gospels. In Ch.5, Gary Habermas' focus is on whether Jesus performed miracles. In his defense of those miracles, he considers the influence of one's worldview. The Jesus Seminar holds a naturalistic worldview where miracles are anathema. He then shows that the historical evidence itself vouches for the authenticity of Jesus' miracles.
In Ch.6, William L. Craig tackles the big question: Did Jesus rise from the dead? He provides three lines of evidence - 1) the empty tomb, 2) the postmortem appearances of Jesus, and 3) the origin of the disciples' belief in Jesus' resurrection. He then gives a slew of evidence supporting each of the three. He concludes that the combined evidence meets the criteria that historians consider in testing a historical hypothesis. In Ch.7, Douglas Geivett addresses the question of Jesus in light of our pluralistic society. He appeals to the importance of careful, rational assessment of a religious truth claim regardless of how that religious truth claim makes you feel. In Ch.8, Edwin Yamauchi looks at the evidence of Jesus in extra-biblical sources, highlighting their usefulness as well as their limitations.
The text is easy to understand. It contains plenty of scholarly content but doesn't assume that erudition is the sole criteria for understanding the arguments in the book. If you're the type of reader who enjoys flipping to the back to read the chapter's endnotes, you'll love this book (I'd estimate that almost a fifth of Craig's chapter is written in his endnotes). If a skeptic/agnostic friend were to ask me why I believe in Jesus, I'd give her this book. If a Christian friend were to ask me if there were any good books to help bolster her faith, I'd give her this book.
(In case you missed the point, buy this book! )
34 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2000
Most collaborations are difficult to read and painstakingly ackward. This is probably one of the few exceptions. 10 conservative, yet, highly recognized scholars attempt to debunk much of the information coming out of the Jesus Seminar and other liberal critics of the gospels and the life of Christ.
The introduction by J.P. Moreland and Michael F. Wilkins introduces the reader to the topic at hand: Who was Jesus Christ? Can we trust the accounts of HIs life? and finally, why it all matters?
The two best and most interesting chapters are written by Craig L. Blomberg (Where Do We Start Studying Jesus?) and William Lane Craig (Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?) Other chapters are very interesting indeed, such as Edwin M. Yamauchi's "Jesus Outside The New Testament: What Is The Evidence?" All in all, this book is a must and is well edited. There are the usual problems in collaborations such as writing style changes, which often disturbs the flow from chapter to chapter. The rules of historical evidence is followed and the theologians and philosophers keep the story staright and follow all the rules oflogic. To the Christian or open-minded skeptic - buy now!
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 1998
This is an excellent book !!! It has a unique arrangement with eight chapters written by eight different authors. Each chapter addresses a different issue regarding the arguments over what type of person Jesus of Nazareth really was. Issues such as the reliability of the Gospels, miracles of Jesus, the Resurrection, and others are all addressed in a scholarly and fair manner. No straw man arguments here... Despite the fact that there are eight different authors, the book flows extremely well.
The only down side to this book is that each topic isn't covered more in-depth. The editors acknowledge this fact, and offer an excellent list of resources for further study of each specific issue.
This book is also an excellent resource for refuting the types of arguments coming from the members of the Jesus Seminar.
55 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2001
This book is a composition of short essays written by a number of prominent Christian apologists which focus on specific and fundamental questions about the Christian faith. Each of the chapters offers solid defenses of orthodox Christianity as well as highlighting where folks like the Jesus Seminar are in opposition to Christian orthodoxy and the many philosophical and scholarly flaws that undermine their case.
While each of the chapters offered compelling reasons in support of Christianity while rejecting the 'scholarship' of the Jesus Seminar, I felt that two chapters were quite outstanding. Habermas's chapter on miracles and Craig's chapter on the resurrection both did the best job of deconstructing the Jesus Seminar, in part, by demonstrating the reasonableness of orthodoxy. Habermas did a good job of demonstrating that the Jesus Seminar, far from being a group of people offering fresh scholarship because they are not bound by Christian tradition, are clearly bound tightly to a naturalistic worldview that slants their entire approach to their study of Jesus. These guys are not neutral and impartial scholars. As both Habermas and Evans effectively demonstrate, the Jesus Seminar is often in the intellectually dubious position of trying to meld two worldviews that are hostile to each other - Christianity and naturalism. The result, as the entire book effectively shows, is a highly subjective effort on the part of the Jesus Seminar to naturalize Christianity and to christianize naturalism. Since this can't be done objectively or evidentially, the Jesus Seminar tries to do it subjectively. And while this has certainly resulted in the Seminar getting lots of attention, it also makes books like Jesus Under Fire easy to write, because the Seminar's scholarship methods are frighteningly easy to refute.
William Lane Craig's chapter does a very good job of refuting the Seminar on the question of the resurrection. Craig's main emphasis is on demonstrating the massive falsity of John Dominic Crossan's musings on the resurrection. Craig's chapter in this book, coupled with Craig's formal debate with Crossan some years ago, provides defenders of orthodox Christianity with a multitude of reasons to be confident in the intellectual soundness of Christianity while also being confident that opponents of orthodox Christianity are in a very bad way if Crossan's views represent the best they can do.
In conclusion, this is a book that puts the Seminar squarely in its place as a group of rogue people who's scholarship and improbable theories are better suited for daytime television than in the halls of academia. I was very impressed with the concise nature of each chapter, and how each chapter is heavily referenced. Lastly, I was also very happy to see a somewhat lengthy list of suggested readings on various Christian topics that complement this book.
When it comes to religious books, topics discussed tend to be pretty fluid, and there is no shortage of rebuttals and rebuttals to rebuttals among scholars of differing views. But every once in a while, a book comes along that really cripples the opposition, and this can be seen by the muted response the opposition offers to the book. Mere Christianity by CS Lewis is one of those books, The Gospel and the Greeks by Ron Nash is another. Jesus Under Fire is a book that comes close to falling into this category. This book has been out on the market for nearly 7 years now, and the response to this book from prominent folks on the other side of the equation has been sparse at best. And what little response there has been has often been guilty of the same philosophical and scholarly presuppositions employed by the Jesus Seminar that were so thoroughly refuted in this book. It is therefore with great confidence that I recommend this book as a quality starting point for exploring the rationality of traditional Christianity, and then applying the same tests of logic, philosophy, and intellectually honest scholarship to the views and methods employed by the Jesus Seminar and its sympathizers.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 1997
This book is deep, but after I made it through the first couple of chapters, it really began to flow for me. More than just refuting the Jesus Seminar's findings, it helped me with some basic questions I have had as a Christian (e.g., questions about the origin of the Bible and the church). I need much more for an answer than "Just because that's the way it's always been." This book offers those answers
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 1998
I've probably bought 4 copies of this book since it came out to distribute to friends as gifts. A fine book that critiques current versions of who scholars think the historical Jesus is. The contributors of the book form a "Who's Who" of some of the finest evangelical scholars in the U.S. This is a very well-balanced, informed, and articulate book that all those interested in Jesus, whether believer or skeptic, should get.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2000
I happened to find this book in a half-price bookstore and I am now going to send this book to a friend for Christmas. My friend happens to be a believer, but this book could be sent to believer and skeptic alike. For the believer, this book gives scholarly yet understandable defense of the faith; such defense is sorely needed in an age of "scholars" such as the Jesus Seminar. For the skeptic, this book will require you to thorughly inspect your lack of faith and ask what it is based upon. In any case, this book is a must read. The question Jesus asked 2,000 years ago, "Who do you say I am"? remains relevant today. As this book itself states, if Jesus is who the Bible proclaims him to be, it is in our best interests to respond. If Jesus is not who the Bible claims him to be, then the Christian must ask what he/she is basing their faith on. After reading this book with an open and receptive mind, I find it hard to believe one would not take a new look at the Bible and at who Jesus is proclaimed to be.
20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 1999
The so-called Jesus Seminar has been much hyped by the liberal media. Of couse, they don't present the other side. This volume makes it clear that none of the claims of the Jesus Seminar rest on objective scholarship.
The Seminar members start with the assumption that miracles are impossible, and the rest of what they write is a foregone conclusion. And isn't it too much of a coincidence that the Jesus left intact by the so-called Jesus seminar coincides so precisely with liberal-left politics?
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2002
Jesus Under Fire-a book that compiles the efforts of 10 scholars-is the evangelical Christian answer to the 74 "fellows" of the Jesus Seminar who began meeting in 1985. The Jesus Seminar eventually published The Five Gospels to correct the supposed errors of the four Christian gospels because its fellows do not accept the record portrayed by the gospels, especially any issue dealing with miracles. They claim that less than 20 percent of the red-letter edition of the Bible are words truly spoken by Jesus. The rest is merely legendary.
This is a very dangerous claim. If true, then the gospel records cannot be trusted. If the gospels cannot be trusted, then how do we know if anything the Bible says is true? The Jesus Seminar fellows decided to vote out the words they disagreed with, hence giving more authenticity to the Gnostic gospel of Thomas (which has been shown to be 4th century AD in origin) than any of the Bible's gospels. In effect, the Jesus Seminar makes a claim that evangelical Christians who believe in the Jesus of the Bible are accepting a great myth.
My favorite chapters were Craig Blomberg's chapter 1 (Where do we start studying Jesus?), William Lane Craig's chapter 6 (Did Jesus rise from the dead?), and chapter 8 (Jesus outside the New Testament: What is the Evidence?). These were well-written chapters, full of valuable information, and a student of the Bible would be benefited by understanding the points made in these (as well as the other) chapters.
If I had any criticism, it was that some information was repeated. For instance, the information on Josephus and his supposed reference to Jesus as the Messiah was talked about in ch. 1 (p. 40), ch. 4 (pp. 105-107), and chapter 8 (pp. 212-213). It seems that this information could have been combined a little better by the editors Wilkins and Moreland. True, too much editing could interrupt the authors' presentations, but these sections were a bit redundant. Perhaps some readers not familiar with this material could be benefited with the reviews in the later chapters.
Overall, I really like the information put forth by Jesus Under Fire. Combining some of the best of Christian scholarship to combat the heresies put forth by the Jesus Seminar makes this a book well worth purchasing. I'm glad these gentlemen are on the side of truth to clearly present the facts.
18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2005
"Jesus Under Fire" was a collection of essays written by scholars who disagreed with the often-publicised views of the Jesus Seminar (e.g. Robert Funk, John Dominic Crossan, etc.) The general reading public should heed the findings of this book and not just pay attention to the often one-sided presentation of the Jesus Seminar. First and foremost, the Jesus Seminar scholars do NOT represent the majority of Christian scholarship in our world today. More often than not, the scholars who make up the Jesus Seminar are the exceptions from the majority scholars - they are, in truth, the surviving vestige of the liberal scholarship from the previous century who have somehow decided to air their views in the public media.
Craig Blomberg, Scot McKnight, Darrell Bock, Edwin Yamauchi, Michael Wilkins and J.P. Moreland are representative of Christian scholars from different denominational/university background who examine in a very objective manner the methodologies to be employed in our present "search for the historical Jesus", the reliability of the New Testament writings, the place and purpose for scholarly conjectures/hypotheses, a survey of non-canonical writings like the Nag Hammadi writings and the Gnostic works, etc.
The end result is a book that represents for our generation one of the finest defense of the works and words of Jesus as recorded in our Scriptures. It is my prayer that everyone who reads this book will go on from just merely asserting the truth of Jesus' words and works - and go on to study the content of the very same words and works. This will lead you to the truth about the PERSON and TRUTH of the Historical Jesus who is really no different from the Christ of Faith (historic Christianity) - "Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1).