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Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened Paperback – January 16, 2009
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'A fascinating read, bringing a freshness to the most recognizable scriptures of our Christian faith: the death and resurrection stories of Jesus the Christ.' --The Newark Advocate, April 2009
'Massively learned, short and readable.'
----Catholic Insight, April 2009
About the Author
Craig A. Evans is Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Director of the graduate program at Acadia Divinity College in Canada. His most recent books include Christian Beginnings and the Dead Sea Scrolls, which he coauthored with John J. Collins, and Fabricating Jesus. He has appeared frequently as an expert commentator on network television programs, such as Dateline, and in various documentaries on the BBC, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel.
N. T. Wright is the Bishop of Durham in the Church of England. He is the author of over forty books, including the popular For Everyone guides to the New Testament (published by Westminster John Knox Press), Simply Christian, and Surprised by Hope. He has appeared on many news programs, including ABC News, Dateline, and Fresh Air.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is divided into three main segements:
I. An essay by Dr. Evans examining immediate reasons why Jesus was crucified (authorities saw him as a potential political threat), who the immediate responsible parties were (Roman with some influencial Jewish religious leaders cooperating), and what happened to Jesus. In particular, Evans points out the mockery and how close it follows typical Roman practice.
II. Essay II concerns Jewish Burial practices and Roman law. It may be the best chapter in the book though all were enjoyable. Included are discussions involving the skeleton of Yehohanan, reasons why Jesus would have been allowed burial in the circumstances, and a number of other interesting facts (in one part, Evans even argues a point utilizing fifteenth century skeletons from Towton [the use was actually quite justified in this particular segment]). Evans also takes some good shots at the old "Swoon Theory" and Talpiot Tomb along the way.
III. Essay III deals with resurrection and covers topics ranging from eyewitness sources to comparisons of Second Temple Jewish, ancient pagan, and modern feelings on the subject of Resurrection. As usual, N.T. Wright writes in a very readable style and makes on the whole good arguementation.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable read and indeed a relatively quick read. It is loaded with interesting information though I wish it could have been longer. I should point out that both authors (and myself for that matter) generally hold conservative theological beliefs on the question at hand (neither author is close to fundamentalist though). Overall, a fine work that I recommend.
To give away the ending, the authors believe that Jesus really was crucified, really died, really was buried, and really did rise from the dead physically. The first two essays, written by Craig A. Evans, take a look at first century Jewish and Roman execution and burial practices. The third, written by N. T. Wright, is a look at what the early church believed about Jesus' physical resurrection from the dead and argues for the conclusion that they believed he did, and, he really did.
Dr. Evans, a recognized and prolific New Testament scholar, tackles the question of whether the Gospel accounts of Jesus' trial, death, and burial are likely to have happened the way they are recorded by the Evangelists. Combing through copious amounts of source materials regarding how Jewish and Roman culture and legal systems worked in the day, he builds a strong case for why Jesus was opposed by the Jewish authorities, the Passover pardon of Barabbas, the scourging, his death on the cross, and his burial in the tomb. For the faithful, these seem to be simple and obvious details within the Easter story, but as Dr. Evans shows throughout, there are plenty of modern-day theories which attack each. In the end, however, he shows that each theory which opposes these details has the burden of proof, and it is a heavy burden indeed.
Bishop Wright, possibly the leading living scholar on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, takes for his approach a kind of definition and explanation of the word "resurrection." What was the Old Testament (and thus prevailing view in Jesus' culture) understanding of it? Was the general, ancient view of resurrection something compatible with what became the Christian understanding? And finally, what was the Christian teaching regarding Jesus' resurrection? He argues convincingly that the Christian view is a distinct departure from their Jewish heritage, the pagan cultures around them, and is shockingly stable and unified through the years. The explanation for this break and persistent belief? Jesus physically rose from the dead and became the Christ-follower's hope.
In the end, this volume tackles many of the details that we often either take for granted or don't even pay attention to when we come around to Easter. The way the details are handled provide further support for the traditional Christian belief about the last days (and resurrection) of Jesus Christ, and make it harder for the skeptic to simply brush the whole story off as ancient and simplistic legend.
The book has 3 chapters, which are revised lectures that cover:
This chapter examines Jesus' crucifixion and how the narrative matches up with other historical data from the same time period. It covers why Jesus' was put on trial, Pontius Pilate, and mockery.
This chapter I found the most interested and covers Jewish burial practices and laws. A case is made that it was very probably that Jesus was buried in a tomb and that the tomb's location was known.
This chapter how Jews and understood resurrection and changes that took place after the supposed resurrection of Jesus'. It does not focus on the resurrection appearances.
It was nice to see these lectures use non biblical historical text and archeological evidence. This book isn't intended to be an apologetic work, as stated in the introduction, so the reader may be somewhat disappointed if they are expecting it to be.
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