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Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus Paperback – July 5, 1996
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From the Publisher
Are the traditional answers to these questions still to be trusted? Did the early church and tradition "Christianize" Jesus? Was Christianity built on clever conceptions of the church, or on the character and actions of an actual person?
These and similar questions have come under scrutiny by a forum of biblical scholars called the Jesus Seminar. Their conclusions have been widely publicized in magazines such as Time and Newsweek.
Jesus Under Fire challenges the methodology and findings of the Jesus Seminar, which generally clash with the biblical records. It examines the authenticity of the words, actions, miracles, and resurrection of Jesus, and presents compelling evidence for the traditional biblical teachings.
Combining accessibility with scholarly depth, Jesus Under Fire helps readers judge for themselves whether the Jesus of the Bible is the Jesus of history, and whether the Gospel's claim is valid that he is the only way to God. "The Jesus Seminar is the creation of a media culture looking for a story. This book refutes its conclusions point by point."
Thomas C. Oden, Drew Theological School
From the Author
Michael J. Wilkins (Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor of New Testament language and literature at Talbot School of Theology and the author of several books. J. P. Moreland (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and the author of a number of books
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What they support, though, might be called "soft literalism." For instance, the article by Darrell Bock on the words of Jesus essentially argues that the authors of the Gospels accurately recorded the meaning of Jesus' words, but did not make a verbatim report of them (not least because the Gospels were written in Greek, while Jesus spoke Aramaic). At the same time, though, he simply avoids some glaring issues, such as how the Gospels writers were able to describe the dialog between Jesus and Pilate despite not being there to witness the event. William Lane Craig argues for the historical reality of Jesus' bodily resurrection, but he has to strip away and dismiss all contradictions between the Gospel accounts and stick to his version of the basic facts, which requires him to generally avoid directly quoting the New Testament scriptures and comparing them directly side by side. Despite presenting themselves as using mainstream historical methodology, the authors fail to explain how they are able to make the leap from arguing that the Gospels are "reliable" historical documents to essentially implying that everything in them is true- a claim that is beyond the capability of historical methodology and which no contemporary historian would make about, say, an account written by a Roman historian.
Despite these flaws, which may be inherent in any attempt to use historical methodology to support religious claims, the articles in "Jesus Under Fire" are generally well-written and provide "best case" scenarios for the literal truth of the New Testament. The book would be useful and interesting to read in combination with a more skeptical book like Bart Ehrman's "Jesus, Interrupted."