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The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition Paperback – August 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"This is one of the most important books on methodological issues in the study of Jesus and the Gospels to have appeared for a long time. It deserves to be widely read."--Richard Bauckham, University of St. Andrews

"The Jesus Legend is the best book in its class. Eddy and Boyd demonstrate mastery of the disciplines essential for critical assessment of the Gospels and competent investigation of the historical Jesus. I recommend this book in the highest terms."--Craig A. Evans, Acadia Divinity College; author of Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels

"A clearly written, carefully researched, and powerfully argued defense of the historical reliability of the Synoptic Gospels. What makes this book noteworthy is the careful treatment of underlying issues in historical methodology and philosophy. A pleasure to read and a wonderful resource for those who have encountered troubling skeptical claims about the Gospels."--C. Stephen Evans, Baylor University

"I am gratified that my friends and colleagues Paul Eddy and Greg Boyd have taken my work as seriously as they have in this comprehensively researched book. I urge any reader of my books to read this one alongside them!"--Robert M. Price, Center for Inquiry Institute and fellow of the Jesus Seminar

"Eddy and Boyd have provided a thoroughly compelling cumulative argument--one of the very best available--for the reliability of the Synoptic Jesus tradition. Their book constitutes a superb treatment of the various issues, involving both fresh research and a brilliant synthesis of material from a variety of relevant disciplines."--Craig S. Keener, Palmer Seminary

"Eddy and Boyd have surveyed technical and popular writing alike, in meticulous detail, and present what can be concluded responsibly about the trustworthiness of the Synoptic Gospels and the portraits of Jesus they contain. They compile a detailed and erudite case that supports Christian faith. Highly recommended!"--Craig L. Blomberg, Denver Seminary

"Well-written and organized, containing a masterful command of the literature. Eddy and Boyd show the difference between an open historical investigation of the life of Jesus and much of today's fictional writing that claims to be historical research concerning the origin of Christianity. A very useful introduction for college and seminary students."--Robert H. Stein, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

About the Author

Paul Rhodes Eddy (Ph.D., Marquette University) is professor of biblical and theological studies at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Gregory A. Boyd (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary) is the senior pastor at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Eddy and Boyd are authors or coauthors of several books, including Across the Spectrum.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801031141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801031144
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #288,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 97 people found the following review helpful By wolvie05 VINE VOICE on December 31, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The set of respectable ways to argue that Jesus was legendary or never existed just got a whole lot smaller. Two highly qualified scholars with impeccable credentials have granted the skeptics their wish: to subject the Jesus-myth arguments to critical scrutiny instead of simply dismissing them as 'anti-God' or 'just so much rhetoric'. Maybe now people like Robert Price and Earl Doherty wish they hadn't. Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy conduct such a thorough demolition of the Jesus myth and make such a strong case for the general reliability of the Gospels that, unless dramatic new discoveries come to light from the ancient world, I doubt anyone will be able on the available evidence to produce such an argument which withstands their criticisms. Skeptics will no longer be able to simply refer to 'the writings of Robert Price and Earl Doherty' and act as if that settled the issue of Christian origins. They will have to pass through Boyd and Eddy first.

From the reviews below it is evident that a major point of contention surrounding this book is whether it is a serious scholarly book or just 'conservative Christian propaganda'. The answer, of course, is that it is both: it is arguing for a conservative position vis a vis the reliability of the Synoptic Gospels, but the authors back this position up with scholarly arguments and extensive (even exhaustive) bibliography. The truth is that ALL scholars are apologists for one position or another, that is, they present positive arguments for their case and try to rebutt possible objections. If Boyd and Eddy are writing conservative Christian propaganda, then John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg are writing liberal Christian propaganda, while Burton Mack and Robert Price are writing skeptical/atheist propaganda.
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45 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Lamont S on September 25, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The publishing of this book was well-timed, coming as it did just after the publishing of Richard Bauckham's excellent study of the connections between the Gospels and eyewitness testimony (in his "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses"), as Paul Rhodes Eddy and Gregory Boyd have pieced together a substantial volume that deals another hard blow to the critical assumptions behind the school of "Form Criticism". However, the authors' primary targets are the viewpoints of hypercritical NT scholars and popular writers (e.g. Robert Price (and the "Jesus Seminar" in general), Earl Doherty, etc.) who either consider Jesus to be a mythical figure or at least claim that the canonical Gospels are so unreliable historically that very little can be gleaned about him from these sources. So, while the book is directed at viewpoints typically not taken seriously by the mainstream scholarly guild, it nevertheless has important implications for the world of scholarly study within mainstream circles (as well as, of course, liberal and conservative ones). It is also certainly helpful to have well-thought-out responses to the kinds of arguments we see being advanced by the likes of Doherty and Price, whose works have been influential to popular audiences, if not those in the scholarly world.

The book is divided into 10 chapters, the first of which argues that truly objective historians should be open to the possibility of supernatural explanations for historical data. The second chapter deals with the impact (or lack thereof) that Hellenism had on 1st Century Judaism (and how this may have influenced the formation of a "Jewish legend of Yahweh embodied").
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Randall Pratt on October 8, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In this "Christianity Today" book of the year (Biblical Studies category), Eddy and Boyd provide a rigorous and scholarly defense for the historical reliability of the synoptic gospels.

After setting the ground rules by describing an "open historical-critical method" for examining the evidence, they address eight major lines of argument that are commonly used by those who argue that the Jesus we read of in the New Testament is either fully or mostly a legend:

Naturalism -- the argument that supernatural aspects of the gospel stories must be interpreted as legendary

Hellenistic Judaism -- an argument that first century Jews were sufficiently hellenized so that the idea of a "divine man" was conducive to the creation of a myth such as that espoused in the Jesus tradition

Legendary Parallels to the Jesus Story -- the idea that there are plenty of similarities to the Jesus tradition in earlier stories. These earlier elements became parts of the Jesus myth.

Silence in Non-Christian Sources -- the argument that there is no credible early mention of a historical Jesus, and that this points to a legendary Jesus

Silence of Paul -- the claim that Paul makes little or no reference to a historical Jesus

Free-Form Fabrication of the Oral Jesus Tradition -- since oral transmission is historically unreliable, this process led to the development of a Jesus myth

The Historical Unreliability of the Gospels -- arguments that the gospels were not intended to be read as historically true, or that if they were it makes no difference because ancient works of this genre are unreliable.
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