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Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels Hardcover – October 31, 2006
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"In the genre of conservative evangelical responses to The Da Vinci Code and the Jesus Seminar, Fabricating Jesus stands out as a generously civil yet firm critique of the way some scholars distort Jesus." (Perspectives on Science & Christian Faith, June 2007)
"Fabricating Jesus exposes the misinformed nonsense that has confused the reading public over the past few years. Craig Evans is a well-read and thoughtful scholar who knows all the ancient texts. In this well-written book, he exposes the misguided assumptions and dubious sources that lie behind the wild theories that have plagued the public. He has also presented Jesus and the Gospels in their proper historical context. With enthusiasm, I recommend this book for scholars and all interested in Jesus and Christian origins." (James H. Charlesworth, George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Director and Editor of the PTS Dead Sea Scrolls Project; author of Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls and The Beloved Disciple)
"[This book] is a timely, succinct, and well-written guide for those perplexed by this subject that is much in the news these days. In this wide-ranging book Evans covers numerous contemporary and perennial academic topics related to the historical Jesus." (On Mission, Fall 2007)
"Fabricating Jesus is yet another resource from Evans to help our generation wrestle with the challenges of radical skepticism." (Scott Lamb, Providence Baptist Church, St. Louis, Missouri, The Pathway, April 13, 2007, http://www.mbcpathway.com/article70162.htm)
"Overall, this work makes a major contribution to historical Jesus studies." (Christian Apologetics Journal, Summer 2007)
"In this book, aimed primarily at a nonspecialist audience, Craig A. Evans intends to show that traditional views about the Gospels and Jesus are historically well founded. Evans brings his considerable expertise to bear on a wide variety of topics." (Daniel A. Smith for The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, January 2008)
"Fabricating Jesus is an excellent resource for basic information about the texts, issues and major players in the historical Jesus debate." (Juan Hernandez Jr. for Religious Studies Review, April 2007)
"[A]s a resource to quickly find some responses to or literature on some bewildering issues in Jesus studies, this volume will prove very helpful." (Jack Barentsen in Criswell Theological Review, Spring 2008)
"This thorough, well-written book debunks a number of serious but widespread and influential misinterpretations of the New Testament Gospels, and thus provides an invaluable service." (CHOICE, September 2007)
"Many recent studies of Jesus are arguing that evidence requires a Jesus redo. Some works are written by well-known academics, while others are written by less well-known authors. Enter Craig Evans, who has given his life to the historical study of Jesus. Mincing no words, he calls most of these efforts what they are--fabrication. However, his tone is irenic, the style is accessible, his argumentation is sound, and his scope is comprehensive. This book is a necessary exposé of many recent works, taking us from the hype to the historical Jesus. Eminently qualified, Evans has done us all a great service." (Darrell Bock, Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, and author of The Missing Gospels)
"Few scholars are as well positioned, well trained and well informed as Craig Evans to critique the recent spate of books that have hit the stands, touting a new Jesus for a new day. In a scholarly world where almost anything can pass for knowledge of the historical Jesus or earliest Christianity no matter how far-fetched, it is comforting to have someone like Craig Evans as a sure guide through the maze of books on Jesus and supposedly lost Christianities. Fabricating Jesus is simply the best and most well informed popular-level book ever written on the Gnostic and apocryphal Gospels, as well as on a host of other early traditions that in some way touch on the story of Jesus. Along the way, Evans also provides us with a sane and sober reconstruction of Jesus and his aims and the history of earliest Christianity. I hope this book will gain the wide audience it so richly deserves." (Ben Witherington III, Professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary, and author of The Jesus Quest and What Have They Done with Jesus?)
"This powerful and persuasive book is a much-needed antidote to the outrageous distortions about Jesus and the Gospels that have been popularized in recent years. It's authoritative while still being accessible, and well-argued without being mean-spirited. I strongly recommend this outstanding resource to both Christians and spiritual seekers." (Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ)
"Craig Evans is well-known in academic circles for his expertise in Judaism and the history of early Christianity. In this new book he brings a refreshing mixture of scholarly erudition and critical common sense to an evaluation of the various documents that have been thought to undermine the credibility of the New Testament and demonstrates convincingly that they cannot bear the burden of proof that has been placed upon them. Such documents as the Gospels of Thomas and Peter have no significant new light to shed on the historical Jesus. At a time when much baseless fiction is being developed by novelists on the basis of such dubious sources, it is good to have this exposé of just how fictitious such writings are." (I. Howard Marshall, Honorary Research Professor of New Testament, University of Aberdeen, and author of I Believe in the Historical Jesus and The Origins of New Testament Christology)
"Craig Evans is a prolific and distinguished scholar whose many books and articles are well known to his colleagues in the academy. Fabricating Jesus adds another fine work to the list of his accomplishments. For decades now, the unsuspecting American public has been subjected to dubious academic claims about the historical Jesus that hardly rise above the level of sensationalistic novels. In particular, the Coptic Gospel of Thomas has been misused as a privileged route to the historical Jesus, when in fact it is an interesting and valuable source for knowledge of the patristic period. Especially in regard to the Gospel of Thomas, Professor Evans's arguments against the misuse of apocryphal Gospels are especially cogent. This book is a healthful antidote to a great deal of what claims to be the quest for the historical Jesus in the United States today." (John P. Meier, William K. Warren Foundation Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame, and author of the multivolume work on the historical Jesus titled A Marginal Jew)
"In Fabricating Jesus, we have one of the greatest talents in biblical studies applying his skills to one of the biggest problems in popular culture--the eclipse of the true Jesus, to whom history gives abundant witness. Craig Evans does a masterful job of exposing the sort of tabloid scholarship that captures headlines and confuses the general public. He returns us to the clear-headed analysis of genuine historical inquiry, demonstrating the reasonableness of the Gospel accounts. This book will clarify matters for ordinary readers, yet satisfy scholars too." (Scott Hahn, Professor of Theology and Scripture, Franciscan University of Steubenville)
"This book belongs with the excellent work Craig Evans has already published on the historical Jesus. Professor Evans consistently uses evidence in a truly scholarly and properly balanced manner to reach convincing conclusions--so different from some sensationalist claims about Jesus that quickly turn out to be based on mere wishful thinking. This is contemporary Gospel apologetics at its very best." (Gerald O'Collins, S.J., Professor of Theology Emeritus, Gregorian University (Rome), and author of Jesus Our Redeemer)
"The quest of the historical Jesus has been seriously misled by much poor scholarship and distorted almost beyond recognition by recent pseudoscholarship. But now Craig Evans out-skeptics the historical skeptics, demonstrating from his own intimate familiarity with the biblical texts and his mastery of ancient sources how unfounded are many of the claims made and how ridiculously bizarre are the hypotheses thought to give some support to The Da Vinci Codeand its like. The mature judgment of such an accomplished and front-rank scholar cannot be ignored or lightly gainsaid--a welcome draft from a clear spring after all the muddied waters of recent years." (James D. G. Dunn, Lightfoot Professor of Divinity Emeritus, University of Durham, and author of Jesus Remembered and Christology in the Making)
"Few scholarly debates are more controversial or more vulnerable to distorted views from right and left than the discussion about the historical Jesus. The increased attention given to extracanonical texts such as the recently published Gospel of Judas and even the fictional vapors of The Da Vinci Code can seem in the eye of the casual reader to put the historical and theological credibility of the New Testament materials themselves in question. That is why Craig Evans's thoughtful, well-informed and balanced review of the debate is so welcome. Fabricating Jesusis not a reaction to modern biblical scholarship but a judicious guide through the evidence--and a fair-minded and careful assessment of how scholars have dealt with it." (Donald Senior, President and Professor of New Testament, Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and author of Jesus: A Gospel Portrait)
"Craig Evans has written a necessary book on historical Jesus research. His book is exemplary for a 'conservative enlightenment.' It is aptly critical as scholarship--but it is also critical of sensational modern approaches in Jesus research that do not live up to the standards of academic research. In this well-written, lucid book, Evans informs readers of exciting new developments in Jesus research which outdate some hypotheses that were once in vogue. He knows academic scholarship from within--and also the very human aspects of all those who are engaged in Jesus research. So it is not only a very good scholarly book, but also a noble and fair book." (Gerd Theissen, Professor of New Testament Theology, University of Heidelberg, and author of The Shadow of the Galilean and The Gospels in Context)
"Fabricating Jesus exposes the misinformed nonsense that has confused the reading public over the past few years. Craig Evans is a well-read and thoughtful scholar who knows all the ancient texts. In this well-written book, he exposes the misguided assumptions and dubious sources that lie behind the wild theories that have plagued the public. He has also presented Jesus and the Gospels in their proper historical context. With enthusiasm, I recommend this book for scholars and all interested in Jesus and Christian origins." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book was intended for a variety of readers; some merely interested in Jesus, some confused by the theories that contradict the Bible, some wanting a defense of the New Testament, and some who are delving into the scholarly realm. In Fabricating Jesus Evans does a masterful job of presenting the material in a thoughtful and concise manner. Anyone interested in learning more are pointed to his section for further reading.
The first couple of chapters deal with Evans’ brief background, how he came to faith, and how he pursued both Old and New Testament Studies. These chapters also deal with New and Old skeptics. What ideas have they put forward, and what seems to have caused them to come to their beliefs? I love that Evans offers a conservative rationale for not needing the scriptures to be inerrant in order to believe the reliability of the New Testament documents, specifically the four Gospels in the New Testament. I thought playing this card would prohibit anyone from writing him off as an ignorant and bigoted conservative, but after reading the 1-2 star reviews I can see that I was wrong.
In chapters 3 and 4 Evans deals with “Questionable Texts”. These include The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Peter, the Egerton Gospel, the Gospel of Mary and the Secret Gospel of Mark. I think he does a fine job of presenting the questionable material, offering the popular conspiracy theories based on these texts, and then asking simple common sense questions. He does not lead the readers down a path where they have to jump on his band wagon to understand his point; rather, Evans quotes the passages skeptic authors use as their bases for new Jesus stories and simply asks the readers what the most reasonable explanations might be. I particularly liked this: “Indeed. When students ask me why certain Gospels were omitted from the canon of the New Testament and whether some of them ought to be included, I tell them to read these Gospels. They do, and that answers their questions” (pp. 98-99).
Chapter 5 deals with “Jesus as Cynic”. Here, Evans refutes claims that Jesus was influenced by Greek Cynics. While Jesus frequently rebuked his contemporary religious authorities, he was very un-cynical in his affirmations of Torah life. This fact alone should lay any claims that Jesus was a Cynic to rest. Perhaps it would have been beneficial to include other “alien context” theories, such as Jesus as a Buddhist. Maybe that one is not popular enough.
Chapters 7 discusses Jesus as a Healer and Miracle Worker. Basically, Evans takes a reasonable approach to understanding what the earliest Christians thought about Jesus’ miraculous acts. If Jesus wasn’t doing marvelous (and supernatural) deeds then few people would have taken notice of him. Jesus was not merely a popular teacher; he was clearly demonstrating some sort of supernatural power over demons, sickness, and nature. Otherwise, the crowds would have never grown to the sizes they grew. This chapter continues Evans’ desire to let the readers make the reasonable conclusions on their own, based on the evidences we have.
Chapter 8 teaches about Josephus. When scholars pinpoint the later Christian additions to Josephus, it seems all hope is lost of using him as a positive historian for traditional Christianity. The fact is, however, when we look to larger contexts of Josephus and compare his agendas and biases with those of the New Testament authors we find that Josephus helps us affirm the validity of the the New Testament Gospels.
Chapters 9 and 10 engage conspiracy theory scholarship regarding the reliability of the New Testament. Chapter 9 deals with the more scholarly approach to other Christianities, while Chapter 10 deals with fiction-scholarship. I wish he had spent more time on Chapter 9 with “Lost Christianities”, perhaps engaging Elaine Pagels’ works, but his response to Ehrman’s logic (on discussing 2nd and 3rd century false Christianities) successfully roots the readers into common sense mode again by restating that all the documents we have about the New Testament era of Christianity support and affirm the New Testament understanding of Jesus. In short, there were no other forms of Christianity in the first century. The discussions of heresy within the context of the earliest church were surrounding the role of Jewish separatism from the Gentile converts. None of these heresies involved believing Jesus was not messianic, nor did they present Jesus as non-human, nor did they think Jesus taught some secret gnosis. They all believed in Jesus’ messianic role, his humanity, his divinity, his death and his resurrection. None of the extra Gospels Evans discusses in the book match the New Testament in historical validity for these reasons: 1) they were written too late and 2) they don’t match the descriptions attributed to those who actually knew Jesus.
Finally, Evans offers a firmly orthodox understanding of the Jesus of the New Testament. After successfully refocusing the attention from wishful-thinking scholarship toward historical evaluation of the texts, he offers his own response to Jesus. Here, Evans presents the Gospel of salvation in Jesus as the logical conclusion to an evaluation of the relevant material on Jesus of Nazareth. Again, the author asks the readers to ask the simple question: What is the most reasonable response to the evidence we have?
I would be remiss if I did not comment on Evans’ biases. He is a committed Christian. Many people reading this fact will automatically write him off as both unable and unwilling to challenge his own perspective; some may even say he is woefully unacademic because of this particular bias. I say that type of judgment is hypocritical. I agree with the person who said, “Evans out-skeptics the skeptics.” Despite believing the New Testament affirms a particular view of Jesus, Evans has presented the material sufficiently enough for the reader to evaluate it for himself. We cannot say this for some of the authors he refutes in this book.
Anyone looking for a defense of the canonical Gospels should read this book. Anyone who thinks there are better views of Jesus (found outside the New Testament) should read this book. Anyone interested in Jesus scholarship should read this book. I heartily recommend this book.
Craig Evans takes on this question in a fascinating book that should be in the library of every person who enjoys New Testament apologetics. He systematically demolishes the claims of early dates and authentic history that have been made on behalf of Gnostic works that post-date the life of Jesus by two centuries or more, and then takes modern scholarship to task for ignoring the Jewish roots of the four Gospels and imposing their own modern values and agendas on these two thousand year old works. One emerges from reading this book with a greater sense of certainty about the historical value of the Gospels, and a greater sense of skepticism about the qualifications and understanding of those scholars who have tried to dismiss them or question their credibility.
Format-wise, this book originated as a compilation of blog posts, and as a result, it does occasionally come across as a bit disjointed and lacks a certain amount of cohesion, but these are stylistic rather than substantive criticisms. Craig's work deserves to be read and studied by anyone who has questions about the authenticity of the Gospels or the competence of modern New Testament criticism.
Though the content is hardly written at bedtime-story level, it's definitely layperson-readable. Moreover, Evans has provided a glossary, and also has defined (in a list) abbreviations that may be unfamiliar to the average layperson.
I think that honest skeptics — those who acknowledge the existence of objective truth, seek such truth, and are open to accepting such truth when they see it — will find this book helpful.
the execution of Jesus that is depicted in the gospel narratives truly coincides with the anicent Romans time of presecution
For example high Jewsih priest had a right to transfer there criminals to Roman authorities who later on will have the right to presecute them as they have done to Jesus of Nazareth, so Gospel account are not some sort of fabrication but a real history because it coincides with a political structure of the time of Jesus of Nazareth,
I dont want to give up more inofrmation I would ask you to read it by yourself and see how modern scholars(like Ehrman,Tabor or company) dont know anything about histroical Jesus
And scholar Craig Evans he is very open minded he is not hiding anything not covering anything like many fundamentalist will do but he does what a real historian suppose to do and the first and most important thing is to be open minded if you are open minded you will know the Truth and if you know the Truth then the "Truth shall set you free" John 8:32