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Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence (Studying the Historical Jesus) Paperback – April 13, 2000
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Top Customer Reviews
The author starts with an overview of some classical writings including "Pliny the Younger", "Celsus", and "Tacitus". The second chapter goes into some of the classic Jewish literature that also refers to Jesus including the well-known Josephus passages. While some of this was new material for me, there were no real surprises. The information is presented well, with several commentary opinions regarding the passages. The author presents the information in a mostly neutral fashion and will often present both supporting and opposing views on the writings and their significance.
The sections on the Canonical Gospels were excellent. The focus is on the missing "source material" for the core Gospels. The Luke source, identified as "L", the "M" source which is reasoned to be part of the source for the unique material in the Gospel of Matthew, and the "Q" source for the sayings in Matthew and Luke. In Luke this source material is referred to directly in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke: "Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the things that have been fulfilled among us...I too decided, after investing carefully from the first, to write an orderly account for you...". This implies that there were "many" others who wrote down information about the life of Jesus and the Gospel message. The other sources. "M" and "Q" are not as directly implied in the Gospels.Read more ›
In the classical area, Van Voorst examines the traditional Pliny, Suetonius, Tacitus, and Celsus writings, but he also includes such lesser known authors such as Thallos, Serapion, and Lucian of Samosata. In the Jewish writings he covers just about every reference there is to Yeshu, ben Stada, Balaam, and "the certain one". It's a tour d'force.
Curiously enough, while Van Voorst is unsurpassed in his presentation and interpretation of material, it's his conclusions that I find wanting. For example, he discusses all the reasons why the mention of Jesus in Josephus is regarded as a later addition, then concludes that he "present(s) an independent account of Jesus" (p. 103). His main reason for discarding all the contrary evidence is his disbelief that the later interpolators could describe Jesus in less than glowing terms. Hardly convincing for me. Similarly, he concludes that references to Balaam cannot be references to Jesus because Balaam was traditionally the "prototype of the deceitful prophet from outside Israel" (p. 116) and Jesus, after all, was a Jew. True, but to the people who wrote the Talmud, even in Tannaitic times, Jesus was accused of being deceitful and was then outside Israel. So the use of Balaam can be accepted as referring to Jesus.
My disagreemeents with Van Voorst's conclusions notwithstanding, this is an excellent book and belongs on the shelf of any scholar. Much of the material is generally unavailable elsewhere, and Van Vorost scholarship is exceptional.
sources for the historical Jesus and I gave it a 3-star rating because though
I thought it was very valuable and interesting, the author does present the
evidence of the chronicler Thallos in such a way so that an uninformed
reader might think that a mid-first century date for Thallos,and his knowledge
of the Christian passion tradition,are quite probable.
But attempts to extend Thallos' chronicle down to 52 C.E. are completely
conjectural,and a date of 92 is just as likely.But this Thallos is apparently
the same Thallos referred to by the Christian writer Theophilus c.180,so that
even Craig Evans,one of Van Voorst's secondary sources,acknowledges
that certain dates for the Thallos' allusion to the crucifixion darkness range
anywhere from 29 C.E.to 221 C.E.
For the assessment of Evans,who tends to exude the same atmosphere
of plausibility regarding a mid-first century date for Thallos,see "Studying
The Historical Jesus",edited by Craig Evans and Bruce Chilton,p.454-5.For
a more sober evaluation,see the revised Schurer:"History Of The Jewish
People In The Age Of Jesus Christ",vol.3,p.543-4.
Man Of Blood: On The Last Days At Jerusalem
But the author's conclusions are in fact sound, and they serve as a corrective to the theories of those who have been thriving on extra-canonical evidence at the expense of the New Testament. To be sure, there is value in these sources, but that value is fairly limited. Taken in conjunction with John Meier's "Marginal Jew" (vol I) and Donald Akenson's "Saint Saul", the trilogy refutes any reconstruction of Jesus which relies heavily on apocryphal testimony.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Highly in-depth survey and very honest and straightforward. For believers in Jesus it is important for contesting the infamous opinions that He never existed. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Fabio
fascinating and informative, not much biased material; a thorough overview.Published 16 months ago by richard j nix
The author wrote in the Preface to this 2000 book, "This book examines the ancient evidence from outside the New Testament for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus... Read morePublished on June 13, 2013 by Steven H Propp
I bought this book with a genuine curiosity, a real interest to discover what evidence there may be for the existence of the character Jesus Christ as portrayed in the gospels. Read morePublished on January 19, 2012 by nbfsinger
This is THE best book on the subject. For an academic scholar, Van Voorst writes really well, and does a good job at holding your attention. Read morePublished on September 1, 2006 by Dr. Marc Axelrod
This is your one-stop shopping place for reviewing the modern status of the historical Jesus discussion outside of the Bible. Read morePublished on April 23, 2005 by Mark Lee
Judging this book by its cover, you would expect a discussion of references to Jesus outside the New Testament. And that you do get. Read morePublished on August 12, 2004 by C. Price
Much to the dismay of those who'd prefer otherwise, Jesus is mentioned in several sources outside of the biblical New Testament. Read morePublished on May 7, 2001 by Timotheos Josephus