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The Evidence for Jesus (Jesus Library) Paperback – March 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Series: Jesus Library
  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Regent College Publishing (March 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573833703
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573833707
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #709,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By C. Price VINE VOICE on August 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
One of the few full-length treatments of the Jesus Myth by a leading New Testament scholar, The Evidence for Jesus is an inexpensive and accessible refutation of that theory. Though The Evidence gives special focus to the arguments of G.A. Wells, it also responds to other radical theories about Jesus--not all of which are Jesus Myths.

France begins with a sober discussion of the non-Christian evidence related to Jesus. Most of it, such as Tacitus and Mara bar Serapion, he finds offer little direct evidence about Jesus. He then turns his attention to the Jewish evidence, providing a thorough discussion of the two references in Josephus--quite forcefully dismantling Well's rather dismissive approach to the subject. After one of the better treatments of the subject in a popular book (though relatively brief), France rightly concludes that "the skepticism which dismisses the Testimonium Flavianum wholesale as a Christian fabrication seems to owe more to prejudice than to a realistic historical appraisal of the passage."

After discussing references to the historical Jesus in the Epistles of Paul, France concludes that it is from the Gospels that we gain the bulk of the evidence for Jesus. With a scholar's familiarity with his subject, France moves through Gospel questions such as the genre of the gospels, the fluidity of oral tradition, the creativity of early Christians, theological motivation and historical credibility. His discussion of midrash is particularly relevant, showing that mythic attempts to cast the Gospels in such terms fail because evidence that midrash was ever used to invent recent historical episodes is lacking. France then provides an informed, yet common sense discussion, of the differences between the Gospels.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David Kilpatrick on December 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
I read this shortly after it came out in the mid 1980s. I only wish that France updated it. France's book, and another book by the exact same title, written by James D.G. Dunn, were responses to a British documentary that aired on the BBC a year before these books appeared. It was called Jesus: The Evidence. There was such an unfair treatment of the historical evidence, that two NT scholars, France and Dunn, independently set about to correct the record and lay out the evidence more fairly. France's book is the more conservative of the two.

Given that these books are a reaction to a specific documentary, it is in some ways dated. However, the evidence itself it not dated, but timeless. I think he could have made a somewhat stronger case, but he did a fine job. It's 1) a good first treatment for a Christian who wants more direct information about the historical evidence regarding the trustworthiness of the gospels or 2) another resource for someone reading similar type books, because he makes points that others don't and they make points he doesn't, so to get a more complete picture of the evidence, you'll want to include France's book.

I've read about a dozen books of this type. Still, F. F. Bruce's "The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable" never ceases to amaze me in how soberly, accurately, and yet briefly he treats the topic. Dunn's is recommended too, but not if you're very conservative, you'll get unnerved. Paul Barnett also has a great book this topic "Is the NT Reliable?" Leslie Mitton's out-of-print book "Jesus, the Facts Behind the Faith," is less conservative, but still makes a good case for the reliability of the main elements of the Gospels.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jeri Nevermind VINE VOICE on October 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
France asks the question: What do we really know about Jesus? He sifts through the scanty Roman sources, and the much larger evidence from other sources. This is not a long book, but it covers the topic thoroughly and is directed to the general reader, not the scholar.

He reviews the fragments of gospels we have, the earliest dating to 125 AD. The first Christian literature from the period would be Paul's epistles. Paul does not give a biography of Jesus--since he was writing to people already Christian, that would have been pointless--but he does, in many instances, underline Christian dogma.

He also covers many of the major arguments between scholars regarding this evidence. I was especially pleased by his mention of "Redating the Gospels" by Robinson. Also interesting is the discussion what languages Jesus and his followers spoke. There is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that they were trilingual--Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

Other books that are recently published that deal well with this subject would be "Fabricating Jesus" by Evans and "Reinventing Jesus" by Komoszewski.
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By Kevin from Texas on May 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thought this was a good book. I goes over some evidence and historical writings that I had never heard of before.
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Format: Paperback
This was a mildly interesting book that could have been better if France's discussion of the New Testament itself was more illuminating. This is a popular level book written in the mid-eighties so it is kind of dated. He emphasizes the important point that a lot of the writing from the 1st century have not survived. He then goes on to discuss the non-Christian evidence for Jesus. This analysis, like his analysis of the New Testament, is critical and evenhanded. After reading so much blatant Christian apologetics, this approach is both more honest and credible.

Tacitus is the main Gentile writer who mentions Jesus. There are others but to France, Tacitus is the most important. Tacitus states that Jesus was a Jew from the Roman province of Judea who was crucified under the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius. Interestingly, France does not take this as `independent testimony' since Tacitus could just be getting his information from what the Christians thought about their own origins. He gets this opinion from G.A. Wells who argues that Jesus was a mythic creation and not a historical figure. I tend to think that while Wells might be correct on Tacitus, I find it hard to believe that this information is not from some credible source since Tacitus was no friend of the Christians and would probably not accept whatever they claimed uncritically. However, Wells could be right.

The Jewish historian Josephus also mentions Jesus. France notes that the martyrdom of James, the brother of Jesus, as a Christian leader in 62 A.D. is generally agreed upon as historical. It is true that this mentioning of Jesus was embellished by Christian scribes, but most scholars believe that Josephus really did mention Jesus, but without the obvious Christian sympathies.
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