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Jesus Is Dead Paperback – April 30, 2007
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From the Inside Flap
This book argues that (1) not only is there no good reason to think that Jesus ever rose from the dead, (2) there is no good reason to suppose that he ever lived or died at all.
About the Author
Robert M. Price was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and moved as a child to New Jersey where he attended a fundamentalist Baptist church. He even became president of a chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and was for a time an apologist of the sort he refutes in Beyond Born Again, Deconstructing Jesus, The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man, and Jesus Is Dead. Editor of The Journal of Higher Criticism, he is also the author of The Widow Traditions in Luke-Acts, The Da Vinci Fraud, The Reason-Driven Life, and the monumental The Pre-Nicene New Testament. He holds a PhD in Systematic Theology from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a second PhD in New Testament from Drew University. He has served as Professor of Religion at Mount Olive College in North Carolina and is a member of the Jesus Seminar and its successor, the Jesus Project.
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Jesus belonged to conceptual theology and was a post-Temple affaire. This explains the complete absence of contemporary confirmation by non biblical writers. When the Temple was destroyed all Jewish factions had to ask why God allowed this? The Nazarenes considered that it meant that God was against the previous Temple administration run by the Pharisees. They forwarded a different take over party, with a Messiah ready to lead them to the heavenly kingdom. This conceptual messiah represented the Nazarene's expectations and past history.
The newly introduced messiah soon slipped out of their hand and was reinterpreted according to Gnostic understanding. Then the real competition began between Judean and Hellenistic legacies.
We have all been terribly abused by the Gospels that we not only read at face value but believe they were written over a short period. Religious parties were political parties and all their texts are campaigning propaganda written in priestly jargon supporting partisan views and denigrating inside and outside opposition. It took over a century to write the Gospels, to introduce the infancy narratives and genealogy to "prove" that Jesus existed as a man contrary to Gnostic theology, and to secondarily attribute the early thirties to Jesus.
Price's "Jesus is dead" won't stay on my bookshelf. His study on Paul will, although I don't always agree with him as can be seen in my "Sorting out Paul. Caught between man and legend."
The book is a collection of various pieces and book reviews that have appeared in the years prior to the book's publication. Most of the individual chapters deal with apologetic arguments and reviews of books written by apologists. Because of this there is quite a bit of repetition as apologists make the same arguments and Price offers up the same refutations.
There is also a bit of padding in the book as Price demolishes the current spate of books dealing with the Knights Templar, notably Brown's "The Da Vinci Code". The connection to mainstream apologetics is rather tenuous as neither skeptics nor apologists alike have the time of day for "Jesus survived the cross, married Mary Magdalene, moved to France, etc, etc" fantasies. Price seems to be trying to tar with the same brush, like comparing global warming deniers with holocaust deniers. I hope this was not intentional.
If you're looking for an actual book instead of a collection you're going to be slightly disappointed as I was. The pieces are all well written and well reasoned but read one after another they tend to be repetitious.
A Kindle edition of this book is on sale on the author's website. The Kindle edition is quite readable but has a number of shortcomings mostly due to the table of contents. The table does not show up in the menu, and only the chapters in the first half of the book are marked on the progress bar. The text is also not justified. Two other books are for sale in Kindle format on Price's website, "Night of the Living Savior" and "The Christ Myth Theory and its Problems". Like "Jesus is Dead", they are also collections.