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JESUS WHO? Myth vs. Reality in the Search for the Historical Jesus Paperback – May 16, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Gardner writes a concise, clear book that spells out the irregularities and misconceptions with the traditional Jesus as Western Society has come to know him. Paragraphs make solid points, and there are charts, definitions and tables that compare all the scholarship, ancient and modern, on the historicity of Jesus Christ. Gardner's sources are solid and so are his insights. In fact, he brings new revelations to the table that I hadn't heard before about early Christianity.
This book decidedly points that there is a problem with Christianity, and the problem lies with assuming and not knowing the truth behind its founder.
And I'm not talking about Saint Paul, but about the big guy himself.
If you've had questions all your life about who really is Jesus of Nazareth, this is a perfect beginning to a road you might regret because the truth tends to hurt some people.
Gardner's theme is myth vs. reality and he manages to stick to this theme throughout, sometimes showing the origins of the myth as well. I found it very interesting and it certainly changed my mind about lots of issues. I especially liked the use of tables and bullet points, which made it easier to see the weight of the evidence he presents. It's probably one reason why he packs so much information into relatively so few pages. Comparable books I've read are usually much longer.
I'm not sure I agree with Dr. Gardner's ultimate conclusions, although he does present a lot of evidence to support them. His idea is that Jesus and his family were Essenes, and he accounts for many of the questionable aspects in the gospels by attribution to this theory (eg., we don't know much about Jesus' childhood because he was raised in Qumran). He believes that Jesus' group was a major political force, numbering in the thousands, and this accounts for the reason Jesus is killed. And he provides a plethora of information that Jesus was bothered by a lifelong stigma of being a "mamser".
I have only two criticisms of the book. Gardner begins with a very interesting and informative critique of the methodological issues involved in doing biblical research, but he fails to follow through when he himself discusses the issues about Jesus' life. I guess he assumes his own model, but I would have preferred some explanations even at the expense of lengthening the book. Also, I felt that the detailed approach adopted in this book failed to give me a sense of who Jesus was as a person. Authors like Chilton play fast and loose with the details, but we get a clear picture of who Jesus was as an individual. In Dr. Gardner's concern with detailing the myth vs. reality in every aspect of Jesus' life, there is a tendency to throw out the baby with the bath water. That being said, his section on Jesus' personality does provide deep insight into what was going on in Jesus' mind, and I wish that section were longer.
I give this book 5 stars. It is not without some faults, but the overwhelming positive aspects discussed above deserve a 5.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in any aspect of Christianity - be it a religious, historical, archeological, or mystical one. The book is easy to read, enjoyable and encourages you to think.
And one more thing - being equipped with this book, you will never run out of stimulating topics to discuss and liven up any conversation or party.
I live in Brazil, in a very religious community where often the bible and the new testament are discussed at our church meetings as absolute truths. I have read and heard of of many theories about Jesus and the origin of my faith, but always in shreds and pieces and controversial presentation. Suddenly, Dr. Gardner book, present the whole case at once with such a detailed and substantiated form that it forced me to shift my attention to the essence of my faith and not the truth based on some historical event: if before the reality of Jesus was based on external reported facts, now I was happily forced to go directly to my gnosis to discover what the truth really is. This book favored such introspection and forced upon me a new discovery of myself and my divinity.
Highly welcome reading for somebody engaged on a journey of one's soul's self discovery.