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Was Jesus God? Paperback – February 8, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199580448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199580446
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.5 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,111,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Swinburne, British philosophy professor and the author of books on religious belief, the philosophy of mind and epistemology, explains the point of this book: to show that God conforms to specifically Christian definitions of God and that Christian doctrines and theology are true. By comparison with the author's earlier Is There a God? this book focuses particularly on the foundational Christian doctrine that Jesus was (and is) God. Swinburne uses the Nicene Creed as a road map, but the defining paradigm is God's love, particularly how God's love for us characterizes God and necessitates Jesus. Despite the sophistication of his argument, Swinburne depends on a sympathetic audience predisposed to his conclusions. For example, not everyone will agree that we exist in a state of original sinfulness from which we can only be reconciled to God by "offering a perfect human life which might well... end in a death by execution." Although regular use of boldface words and phrases help direct readers through Swinburne's reasoning, many will find the academic language of philosophy daunting. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Swinburne shreds the popular perception—fostered by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and other prominent atheists—that intelligent reasoning invariably leads to unbelief. For in this formidably argued analysis, readers see a powerful mind defending Christian faith as both rational and coherent. After first establishing the plausibility of God as creator of the world, Swinburne establishes a chain of logic justifying acceptance of Jesus as the divine incarnation of that God. As links in that chain, scriptural accounts of the miracles performed by Jesus fit within a consistent reading of the historical record. Swinburne argues with particular forcefulness for the reality of Jesus’ physical Resurrection, carefully scrutinizing—and rejecting—the major skeptical theories for explaining the empty tomb. Focusing on doctrines generally shared by Christians, Swinburne declines to settle divisive questions of ecclesiastical authority and scriptural interpretation. Tough-minded materialists may find Swinburne unconvincing, and average churchgoers may not wish to parse the fine points of hypostasis and Monophysites. But this book will attract theologically serious Christians and intellectually honest doubters. --Bryce Christensen --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Richard Swinburne is a British philosopher. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, and was Professor of the Philosophy of Religion at Oxford University from 1985 until 2002.His latest book Mind. Brain and Free Will argues that humans consist of two parts, body and soul, and that humans have free will. He is best known for his trilogy on the philosophy of theism (The Coherence of Theism, The Existence of God, and Faith and Reason). The Existence of God (2nd edition, 2004)claims that arguments from the existence of laws of nature, those laws as being such as to lead to the evolution of human bodies, and humans being conscious, make it probable that there is a God. He has written four books on the meaning and justification of central Christian doctrines (including Providence and the Problem of Evil); and he has applied his views about what is made probable by what evidence to the evidence about the Resurrection of Jesus in The Resurrection of God Incarnate. Is there a God? and Was Jesus God? are short books summarizing the arguments of the longer books. He has written at various lengths on many of the other major issues of philosophy (including epistemology, the study of what makes a belief rational or justified, in his book Epistemic Justification). He lives in Oxford, and lectures frequently in many different countries.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. Austin on November 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Richard Swinburne's book, Was Jesus God?, argues on a partially a priori basis that he was indeed. At first glance, this sounds ludicrous, but the argument is actually something like this: Given that God exists and has these particular traits, it then follows that, for a variety of reasons, Jesus was God.

For example, Swinburne argues that a morally perfect, omnipotent, and omniscient God would be expected to share in our suffering and respond to it and our wrongdoing by living a human life. And this is precisely what has happened in the case of Jesus of Nazareth. If God had done such a thing, and a human prophet was also God, then we would also expect that God would confirm this via a divine signature as an endorsement of the life and teachings of that prophet. This is what we see in the resurrection of Jesus, which seems to obviously be an event that could only be brought about by God, i.e. a miracle. And given the further evidence for the historicity of the Resurrection, Swinburne states that "...even if the prior probability of the existence of God is quite a bit less than 1/4, the historical evidence will still make it more probable than not that Jesus was God Incarnate" (p. 133).

The book ends as follows:

I conclude that the fact that the later Church taught the other items of the Nicene Creed in no way detracts from the very probable truth of the central claim of the Nicene Creed (made, I have claimed, very probable on other grounds) that Jesus was God (that is, a divine person). From that it follows, since no divine person can cease to be divine, that Jesus is God (p. 170).

I enjoyed this book, though at points I was not sure what to make of it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Camel ManSam on March 4, 2014
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The author is, very clearly, an expert in metaphysics and pays careful attention to all the propositions and counter-arguments as necessary. To be concise, this book provides an outstanding series of sound arguments that everyone would benefit from understanding.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cornell on May 12, 2011
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If there was ever a question that I had the most problem putting to rest, it was definitely the Trinity question.

Some people ask what does it matter if Jesus was God or if Jesus was the literal Son of God?

Richard Swinburne brings in the philosophical power and describes in great detail why this all makes sense. Swinburne is far beyond most philosophers in knowledge, wit and expertise so it might take a few reads, before you can clearly understand what this brilliant man is stating.

The dissection of the Nicene Creed and events before and after that is where this book really takes off. Swinburne is precise to the point of where you really open your mind and say to yourself "ah why didn't I think of that before, that makes more sense".
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Andrew on April 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First, let me say, this book should be read for entertainment and pleasure only; not for classes like mine is.
Second. his writing style is very poor. As a writer myself, I have to reread whole pages because I'm not understanding what he's getting at on certain points, or how he got there. That, or I'm just stupid and missing his points entirely.
That being said, the overall content of this book is pretty interesting. It'd definitely get a better rating from me if it was presented better.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jms Seven on October 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book argues that Jesus is God from characteristics God. For believers, this is much more than that. It provide believer reflection in the central themes that they believe in - by stating and defining clearly what these things are, and arguing the reasons why these things shoudl or could be.
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