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The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond The Grave Hardcover – April 5, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This uneven and sometimes obscure collection of essays takes up the gauntlets thrown by contemporary Christian apologists like Craig Blomberg, Peter Kreeft and William Lane Craig and argues that a physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is so unlikely as to be impossible. (As Price puts it, there is "implicit absurdity" in the "notion that Jesus is still alive, after two thousand years, in the personal, individual-consciousness mode intended by evangelical apologists.") The essayists, all of whom are male, previously published these articles in academic journals (most notably the Journal of Higher Criticism), mostly within the past five years. The fact that these essays originated in academic niche periodicals and seem largely unchanged means that these are often inaccessible works that demand prior knowledge of specialized philosophical debates. Michael Martin's essay on the improbability of resurrection, for example, jumps right into proving his case by applying Bayes's Theorem without even bothering to explain what that theorem is, and Evan Fales's piece on "Reformed Epistemology and Biblical Hermeneutics" is clearly directed at the Ivory Tower, not the person in the pew. Price's own contributions (the introduction and two essays) are more accessible than his peers', but can also be polemical and mean-spirited, as when he calls Blomberg "a PR man for Bill Bright and his various agendas." However, several essays make excellent points about holes in Christian apologists' arguments; Richard Carrier's discussion of the "spiritual body of Christ," for instance, challenges Christians' tendency to imagine a monolithic worldview among first-century Jews.
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From the Publisher

Library Journal Reviews, April 15, 2005

Did the Resurrection actually take place? This is the central question that Price (editor, Journal of Higher Criticism ) and Lowder (cofounder, Internet Infidels) pose in their essay collection. Written in response to recent works by Wolfhart Pannenberg, William Lane Craig, Murray J. Harris, and others who offered a defense of the Resurrection on historical and logical grounds, the essays probe the following: What is the most reasonable way to understand the appearance stories? Why would a God resurrect Jesus? Is the Resurrection theologically necessary? Is there enough historical evidence to make the Resurrection plausible or convincing? Did the "Empty Tomb" really take place? To such questions, the answer is in the negative or is rendered in a nontheistic manner. Interestingly, contributors include not only philosophers, historians, and major nontheists but also New Testament scholars who view the Resurrection as a later church development. Well argued and well written, the essays are certain to stimulate further insight and reflection for both theists and nontheists. As Price states in the introduction, the book contains "important issues of interest equally to traditional believers, skeptics, and critical theologians." Recommended for academic libraries.-John Jaeger, Dallas Baptist Univ.,TX


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 545 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (April 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159102286X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591022862
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #648,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert M. Price (Selma, NC), professor of scriptural studies at the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary, is the editor (with Jeffery Jay Lowder) of The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave and the Journal of Higher Criticism. He is also the author of Top Secret: The Truth Behind Today's Pop Mysticisms; The Paperback Apocalypse: How the Christian Church Was Left Behind; The Reason-Driven Life: What Am I Here on Earth For? and many other works.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Empty Tomb is a collection of 15 essays by skeptical scholars on the historicity of the Empty Tomb and the Resurrection. Some two-thirds of the essays have been published in the past several years, but there are also several new works, including Richard Carrier's brilliant 100-page essay that spans the middle of the book, and completely redeems whatever weaknesses the volume may have.

The book is aimed squarely at the arguments of Christian apologists, a notion that sat very uncomfortably with the critic from Publisher's Weekly on Amazon.com, who obviously lacked both the knowledge and the patience to deal with the diversity of approaches in the book, and did not seemed to understand it at all, a fact which apparently bred resentment rather than admiration. The essays fall more or less into two groups, a set of a half dozen essays on philosophy and methodology, and another group that focuses strongly on the texts themselves, and the evidence they offer, as well as their historical and social context. The work is accessible to layman who are willing to make the effort to interact with the often complex and detailed theoretical, methodological, and evidential aspects of it.

The volume begins with three essays that explore the Resurrection from the historical and theological point of view. Robert Cavin's essay asks whether there is sufficient historical evidence to establish the resurrection of Jesus. Cavin's essay is actually an exploration of what it means to ask this question, breaking out the underlying assumptions of what "the Resurrection" means in great detail.

This is followed by Michael Martin's essay on Bayes' Theorem and the Resurrection as initially improbable. Martin explains things very clearly, and the essay is not difficult to follow.
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The Empty Tomb is an anthology of replies to Claims about the resurrection of Jesus. A great portion of it is focused on the Empty Tomb. In this volume there is a lot to be learned about these men's interpretations of the History in Palestine. Richard Carrier's treatment of Paul's view of resurrection is humble and friendly and honest. Carrier's historical fervor shines forth throughout his essay and in my opinion it makes it worth the money since he gives examples of legend making in detail.

Oddly enough the resurrection stories fall short of appearing embellished and legendary as much as would be expected if the stories were made up or invented in whole or in part. The resurrection stories are more straight forward, though Carrier argues that they still are unhistorical for the most part, with less legendary ingredients than the examples he gives such as the story of Romulus and others. Michael Martin's first essay is actually very redundant, in that miracles are initially improbable and thus the resurrection of Jesus is also improbable. Robert Price's first essay is a detailed look at the primitive creed found in I Corinthians 15:3-11 and his views on the subject as possible interpolations.

Robert Cavin's essay has to do with the fact that the resurrection body that Jesus was supposed to have was not verified or strenuously tested to have the properties Christians claim such as immortal, impenetrable, indestructive and so forth. Basically, Jesus' body was not tested in a lab, thus we can't say that Jesus' body had those properties. Theodore Drange's first essay is about how Jesus' life, style of death, prolongation of death, location of that death, burial location and resurrection was not the only way or path that God could have chosen.
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Format: Hardcover
What happened after the crucifixion of Jesus? Was his body placed in a tomb, only to resurrect a few days later? Yes, if you ask a faithful Christian, then that's exactly what happened. But imagine asking a group of non-theists, non-Christian academics, philosophers, historians, and atheists. Then what'll you get?

You'll get The Empty Tomb, a serious analysis of many of the arguments that Christian apologetics (defenders of the Christian faith) put forwards at the end of the 20th century. Initially, the story about the resurrection might not be so very complicated, however, look closer and you'll find a whole lot of questions and inconsistencies; all of them discussed in The Empty Tomb. What if Jesus body was simply stolen? What did the authors of the New Testament really mean when they said Jesus had returned from the dead? Did the resurrected Jesus actually meet his followers? If there indeed was a God, why sacrifice your only son only to have him brought back to life right after? Is the notion of a resurrection a Christian invention, or did the Bible authors use earlier sources for their faith?

This questions, and many more, are dealt with mercilessly. The discussions are VERY academic, and many of the contributions throughout the book more or less requires a very deep knowledge of Bible issues, its authors, history, and content. I'm willing to admit that I don't know as much about that particular book as I'd want to, and it happened on several occasions that I had to, unwillingly, admit that I couldn't quite understand what was being said. No wonder, perhaps, because Bible quotes I've never even heard of are used constantly, and sometimes several pages are devoted to discussing how old Greek words should really be translated and interpreted.
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