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Sound Core Argument With Many Glaring Weaknesses,
This review is from: The Psychological Origins of the Resurrection Myth (Paperback)
(Personal bias disclosure: I was a life-long Christian who has become a reluctant doubter of the Faith)
The only book of its kind that I'm aware of, it is a shame that it was written by someone with no scholarly credentials, the fact of which is borne out in significant gaps in awareness of the evidence which has been presented by Christian apologists, both popular and scholarly. (It's also borne out by an amateurish arrogance in the characterization of positions -- Rather than write "the evidence seems to indicate" or "most scholars believe," for example, he characterizes many statements as indisputable facts, when they are far from being so.) These gaps in awareness of rebutting arguments have been identified by other reviewers: dismissal of problem of group hallucination; failure to address 1st Century cultural recognition of the difference between a resurrection and a vision or apparition; dismissal of problem of empty tomb; failure to address the distinction between insisting on beliefs for a lifetime even in the face of torture and martyrdom and the typical grief-induced hallucinations.
Kent makes an interesting analogy to reactions to the death of MLK, which begs the question: How many MLK disciples were convinced throughout their lives that MLK had appeared to them after his death?
I do, however, find grief- and guilt-induced hallucinations to be strong alternative explanations for the belief in resurrection of Jesus; emphasis on the influence of Paul in almost single-handedly making Christianity a world-wide phenomenon a strong argument. Even the gospel accounts provide hints at alternative explanations of resurrection appearances (mistaking Jesus for someone else; some disbelieving appearances, etc.).
I think Kent makes a pretty strong argument to explain the appeal of Paul's theology: mitigates anxiety about an afterlife and emphasizes a beautiful moral system built around the concepts of grace, love, and internalized values.
In sum, this is a book with a subject I truly want to explore more deeply. I only wish the author had been better equipped to address it.