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About the Author
Craig L. Blomberg (Ph.D., Aberdeen) is Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary in Denver, Colorado. His books include Interpreting the Parables, Neither Poverty nor Riches, Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel, commentaries on Matthew and 1 Corinthians, Making Sense of the New Testament: 3 Crucial Questions and Preaching the Parables.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
"This volume offers the most complete, accurate and up-to-date defense of a maximalist approach to the Jesus tradition."-- Thomas E. Phillips, Religious Studies Review, September 2008
"If you want an up-to-date, clear and compelling presentation of the evidence for the historical accuracy of the Gospels, this is the book for you!"-- Gregory Goswell, New Life, March 6, 2008
"I warmly recommend this book."-- Pieter J. Lalleman, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 31.5, 2009
"This new edition provides further interaction with the larger field of scholarship of the past twenty years. Designed for both the informed layperson and theological student/scholar, Historical Reliability sets forth arguments for the gospels as historically sound sources. For the general readership, the central argument is set forth in an engaging and accessible manner. For those more interested in particular issues covered by Blomberg, the footnotes provide access to the context of the discussion. Although not everyone will agree with his conclusions, Blomberg sets forth a compelling case worthy of consideration. For scholar, theological student, and layperson alike, Historical Reliability is a valuable text."-- Michael Naylor, The Expository Times, March 2009 --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B018Y97CAO
- Publisher : IVP Academic; 0002 edition (May 6, 2014)
- Publication date : May 6, 2014
- Language : English
- File size : 2570 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 410 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #292,917 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The topics he covers deal with, but are not restricted to, the synoptic problem, form and redaction criticism, oral tradition in Second Temple Judaism, the problem of miracles (both historically and philosophically), contradictions in the Gospels, the reliability of the Gospel of John, and the testimonies to Jesus outside the Gospels. While I sometimes felt Blomberg was too conservative in his conclusions I still think he was generally careful in his scholarship and seems to treat the evidence with an objective hand most of the time.
I've read many books on the Gospels and I can say that I learned a great deal from this book. I will without a doubt go back to this book to utilize its scholarship. I recommend this book to anyone, believer or non-believer, who feels the desire to delve into the field of New Testament scholarship to determine the validity of the Gospels.
Dr. Blomberg himself is a respected evangelical New Testament scholar who teaches at Denver Theological Seminary. Although a theologically conservative scholar he has had well-known disagreements with more conservative theologians and apologists (eg. supporting Dr. Licona contra the philosopher Dr. Geisler). All scholars have some level of bias and personal commitments to the topics they study. Altogether though I found Blomberg to very reasoned in his approach. Clearly he creates a defense of the traditional gospels as historical sources but what ultimately matters is how he supports his conclusions.
Following the introductions is a very helpful discussion regarding the methods of scholarship in both their traditional theological and more recent critical forms (form criticism, redaction criticism, various literary criticisms, etc.). These chapters take up roughly one quarter of the book. The third section of the book deals with miracles. This topic of whether the possibility of God intervening in history should be considered is crucial in New Testament studies. Scholars can often look at the same textural evidence and arrive at differing conclusions based on their metaphysical presumptions. Dr. Blomberg first deals with scientific, philosophical, and historical objections to the miraculous. Next he pursues the topic further by addressing alleged historical parallels to Jesus, reliability, and the resurrection.
The following two sections of the book cover the Synoptic Gospels and John sequentially. Chapter 4 deals with issues relating to Mark, Mathew, and Luke. Topics discussed include omissions of particular details, variances in speeches, chronology, and paraphrasing. Chapter 5 deals with John, perhaps the most controversial of the gospels due to its unique qualities. Dr. Blomberg discusses authorship, dating, historical reliability, and very importantly whether the differences with the synoptics are nearly as great as is often argued. These two chapters are highly informative with considerable notations for those who wish to explore the topics in considerably greater detail at the scholarly level. The chapters also bring to mind the topic of harmonization and whether it is appropriate to do with separate sources. In one sense fundamentalists have at times attempted complete harmonization to protect their particular doctrines of inerrancy while in the opposite extreme some would argue that harmonization is inappropriate to attempt and that a superficial difference or omission clearly means disagreement between the sources. In my view Blomberg took a more moderate route although in fairness I largely agree with his approach. It is worth noting that one can subscribe to the general reliability and mutual support of the gospels without subscribing to more narrow definitions of inerrancy.
Chapter 6 notes discusses Jesus outside of the context of the Canonical Gospels. Blomberg overviews early Roman and Jewish writings as well as apocryphal traditions, the Nag Hammadi documents, Early Christian writers, Paul's letters, Acts, and Revelation. Aside from these discussions this chapter also notes a number of cases in which historical errors are often presumed in the gospels such as the governorship of Quirinius in Luke's infancy narrative.
Chapter 7 covers the genre of the Canonical Gospels, arguments about burden of proof, and authenticity. Following this chapter are appendices briefly discussing archaeology and textural criticism (the later responding particularly to Dr. Ehrman). Very helpfully for the reader, Blomber provides an extensive Bibliography, Author Index, and Scripture Index (his notations are throughout the book so the bibliography is not annotated). In one of my few criticisms of the book I will note there is not an actual subject index although in the author's defense the chapters are laid out well enough so that referencing is considerably facilitated.
On the whole I thought Dr. Blomberg lays out a logical and evidentially impressive case for the general reliability of the four Gospels of the New Testament. I may not agree with the author on single every point but his book is very informative as well as highly readable. It is a far cry from some of the sensational speculations offered by many popular writers (scholars and non-scholars) concerning Christian history. I highly recommend this book to both Christian and non-Christian readers with an interested in the New Testament or in ancient history.
Top reviews from other countries
What follows is a work which summarises the scholarship of others. Blomberg begins by looking at the general methods for the historical study of the gospels. These include harmonisation, redaction criticism and form criticism. Here, I felt Blomberg was fairly even-handed and gave praise to each methodology where due and criticism where it was deserved. Though he does not explain until the end of the book why he failed to look at textual criticism.
He demonstrates that he is not afraid to tackle potentially thorny issues head-on as from here he launches straight into the issue of miracles. He lays out various objections that one may have to believing the miracle stories of the gospels and then sets about his task of trying to show why they may be considered reasonable.
From here, he then widens his viewpoint to look at contradictions between the Synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke). This is a little more reasonable than the previous section, particularly when one takes into account redaction criticism. The main argument is that if you accept that the gospels do not necessarily contain verbatim testimonies then to say "Jesus said x" may still be an honest and reliable account of the message he conveyed.
Moving on from the Synoptics, he goes on to look at the specific case of the gospel of John. He resorts to rhetorical flourishes at the end of his sections which give a far more firm conclusion than his own analysis allows for, which rather frustrated me as a reader. He tries to wriggle through arguments, rather than accepting what seems, to me at least, to be a far more reasonable conclusion that the gospel of John actually does have some inconsistencies with the Synoptics.
His last major study is to look at the historicity of Jesus outside of the gospels; in other words the potential corroborative or falsifying evidence. This is one of the more convincing chapters, though its main point seems to be correcting the false hypothesis that Jesus never existed, rather than affirming the specific details within the gospels.
His section on historical methods is, I think, bang on. Here, he discusses what should be the "status quo" of belief when looking at any historical source. Should it be disbelieved until otherwise shown to be true? Should it be believed until otherwise shown to be false? Or should the default position be somewhere between? For me, this should probably have formed part of the introduction to the book as this historical hermeneutic is vital to how one undertakes such a study.
In his conclusion, Blomberg does not conclude that the gospels are entirely historically accurate. The evidence is not strong enough. Instead, he concludes that they have "general reliability." That is, though they may not pin down every point precisely, they are sound enough to be regarded as the most trustworthy accounts for the life of Jesus.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 22, 2018