- Paperback: 412 pages
- Publisher: Xulon Press (August 24, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1609576543
- ISBN-13: 978-1609576547
- Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #649,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Defending the Resurrection Paperback – August 24, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
That being said, JP Holding and his co-authors have put together a book in Defending the Resurrection (DTR) that does a masterful job of, well, defending the resurrection. Though the book is seriously flawed in one way. It's subtitle is absent. It should be called Defending the Resurrection - or, how to set fire to bad arguments, because that's exactly what the book does. Every crank theory about the resurrection that I know of ( the idea that it was copied from the OT or a pagan source, for example) takes a trip through the meat grinder courtesy of this book.
It looks as if the authors dredged through the darkest depths of internet skepticism, cataloged all the critiques of the resurrection and soundly refuted them. The effort is extensive and well documented, meaning that the typical attacks - "your faith is based on a myth about a Jewish zombie!" - just won't do. Anybody seeking to debunk (refute, doubt, deny, whatever) Christianity will have to contend with this sort of work. Admittedly, many of the more fringe theories aren't advanced by credible historians anymore, but you can still find them defended in books and films aimed at the general public. And that's certainly a good enough reason to refute them.
Of course, not every critic of the resurrection is an internet crank, and there are plausible theories that seek to explain the resurrection in naturalistic terms which have to be dealt with. One of the more widely accepted ideas is that Jesus never actually claimed to be divine. He was, we're told, just an apocalyptic prophet who succeeded in pissing off the right people which lead to his execution.
I remember, for example, reading Bart Ehrman's arguments in Jesus, Interrupted to this effect. The chapter, a response to C.S. Lewis' famous trilemma argument, seemed compelling at the time, but further studied revealed that Ehrman's argument ignores some important evidence and misreads several relevant New Testament passages. Christians who pick up this book before encountering such criticisms could be spared the same frustration I encountered.
But my favorite section of DTR deals with the philosophical objections to miracles and the resurrection in particular. If you're at all familiar with skeptical literature on this subject, you know how little the arguments have changed since the 18th Century. I find this especially entertaining because Holding and co. turn the Enlightenment reasoning around on people like David Hume and shoot them in the face with it, illustrating how shallow and subjective the philosophical critiques are.
The authors also note that these sorts of arguments are, hypocritically enough, made entirely apart from the available data about the resurrection. It's the only way the skeptics can keep their philosophical presuppositions in place, by continuously raising the bar on what constitutes acceptable evidence.
The one serious criticism I have of the book is its length. I doubt that the average church goer will pick up this 400 page apologetics textbook (it's literally the size of a textbook) and read it cover to cover. It probably would have been a good idea to split the material into two books to make it more manageable. Still, despite its length and sometimes technical nature, I hope the average believer will buy DTR and read all of it. It's filled with the kind of information Christians need to have handy when they inevitably encounter challenges to their faith.
Also, I have to specifically thank reviewer "skepticdude" for his/her review. I admit I was worried when I saw such a long negative review - what if it exposed serious flaws in the book? But after wading through that reviewer's repeated misunderstandings of historiography, human psychology, and Jewish culture in Biblical times, not to mention the fact that half of the review is a screed about his/her personal grudge against the author, I was reassured. I don't have time to point out or answer every flaw I noticed in his/her argument, but here's a possible answer to the first point (Paul's supposed lying to the Jews about why he's keeping the law):
Paul to the Jews: "Brothers and sisters, although I believe that Christ has freed me from the requirements of the Law, I freely choose to observe those requirements while with you, out of respect for you and to show that I am fully capable of meeting the Law's demands. In this way I hope to earn your respect and present to you the truth of the Gospel." There! No lying necessary. A quick Google search revealed similar reasoning in online Bible commentaries, so it's hardly true that "fundies" "cannot answer" this complaint.
And the fourth point (admissibility of ancient documents under FRE 803): As a law professor, I'm familiar with the rules of evidence, and this complaint is all wrong. Rule 803 allows admitting an ancient document into evidence, but does NOT establish the veracity of its contents. Finding New Testament documents to be authentic doesn't create a presumption that the Resurrection occurred, as the reviewer seems to think. Authenticity in this context simply means that the document has a reliable chain of custody and is not an obvious forgery. Originals of the documents are not required (FRE 1004). Oh, and Charles Jake is absolutely right - a full analysis of the multiple evidentiary rules that apply and how they interact with each other and with court precedents would be far too long and boring for a book chapter. It would be more appropriate for a law review article. Far from being a "fool", the author is just simplifying a highly technical legal analysis for a lay audience. It would be "foolish" of him to have done otherwise! (Also, skepticdude might want to avoid calling people fools in the same review where he/she complains about the author saying mean things. It has the whiff of hypocrisy about it.)
After reading through all the reviews, these kind of superficial complaints seems to be the best the various negative reviewers can do, so I can only conclude that overall the book must be pretty solid. So thanks again, skepticdude and fellow one and two-star reviewers! I bought this book because of you.
The book not only presents the standard apologetic arguments for the resurrection, but also treats them with a level of depth that leaves more popular level apologetic books simply buried. A fine example is J.P. Holding section on just how offensive and counter-cultural Christianity was in the world of first century Roman Empire. Most apologetic books will mention the cross being shameful, but many will not mention for example the signifigance of women being the first witnesses to the empty tomb among many other things. Overall, J.P. Holding does a fine job of providing material that most books flat out miss.
There are only two caveats for reading this book, though. One is that J.P. Holding's book doesn't really provide a positive case for the resurrection so much as it deals with the great plethora of objections thrown at it. Of course, this is not a bad thing and as Gary Habermas himself says in the introduction, it's one of the things that makes the book particularly useful. Another would be the book's overall depth. This book should not be the first book you read on the resurrection since it's treatment is certainly above what most people are used to reading. Nonetheless, this is a book that deserves a place on everyone's shelf.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Defending the Resurrection (DTR) is really a different book from other books you will find on the...Read more