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Reinventing Jesus Paperback – May 9, 2006
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This is not just another response to the issues raised in the novel and the film. It is a serious, detailed, yet eminently accessible refutation of the exaggerated skepticism of bona fide scholars like Bart Ehrman or Robert Price and of the outright misinformation in frequently-believed pseudo-scholarship circulating on the web or via little-known publishing houses." (Craig L. Blomberg Apologia Report 2006-11-01)
"Reinventing Jesus cuts through the rhetoric of extreme doubt to reveal the profound credibility of historic Christianity. Meticulously researched yet eminently readable, this book invites a wide audience to take a first-hand look at the primary evidence for Christianity's origins. Reinventing Jesus shows believers that it's okay to think hard about Christianity, and shows hard thinkers that it's okay to believe. . . .While there are other books being written to defend the historical Jesus of the New Testament, and the authenticity and trustworthiness of the New Testament writings, Reinventing Jesus is one of the better ones read by this reviewer. The authors cover such a breath of material that it is hard to find one of similar value in terms of thoroughness and argumentation. I highly recommend this work." (Ray Hammond ChristianBookPreviews.com 2006-08-01)
"I have bought all the Da Vinci Code books and I feel this book is by far the best one out there. Reinventing Jesus transcends The Da Vinci Code stuff and is more a book on the origin of the New Testament for the most part. It is definitely a book for the average person to learn about how oral tradition and a memorizing culture was behind how things were written back then, all about textual criticism and why we can have confidence in the New Testament today. How books were selected etc. I can say there that it is one of the best books I have ever read that goes into the apologetics of the Bible and I hope that the Da Vinci Code tie in, doesn't give a short shelf life to this book, as it really is a book that is like taking a class on the origin and trustworthiness of the Bible, not The Da Vinci Code." (Dan Kimball Vintage_Faith.com 2006-07-01)
"An excellent book. A readable book. A perennial book with unfortunately, a seasonal title. It deserves to be bought and read and stored and studied ó with or without its current connection to DaVinci Code and The Jesus Seminar. The book is an easy reading account of why and how we have the New Testament." (Doug Pagitt tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com 2006-07-01)
"For years now I've been lamenting the sad state of published apologetics, as it seemed that there was far more interest in getting out insipid eschatological novels than in offering defenses of the faith rooted in sound scholarship. I was glad when Lee Strobel's works finally jimmied that door some, and when Licona and Habermas cracked it further open with The Resurrection of Jesus; and now, this trio has blown the door off its hinges and sent it flying into the atmosphere. I'll put it bluntly: Buy this book. If you're tired of the Christian publishing industry putting out the intellectual equivalent of Hostess Ding Dongs in defense of the faith, you NEED to make this book a success, because otherwise, they won't get the message and we'll get more Ding Dongs instead of more roast beef." (J. P. Holding Tektonics Book Reviews 2006-04-01)
"Reinventing Jesus cuts through the rhetoric of extreme doubt to reveal the profound credibility of historic Christianity. Meticulously researched yet eminently readable, this book invites a wide audience to take a firsthand look at the primary evidence for Christianity's origins. Reinventing Jesus shows believers that it's okay to think hard about Christianity, and shows hard thinkers that it's okay to beli --1
From the Publisher
From the worldwide sensation The Da Vinci Code to the national best-seller Misquoting Jesus, popular culture is being bombarded with radical skepticism about the uniqueness of Jesus and the reliability of the New Testament. Reinventing Jesus cuts through the rhetoric of extreme doubt to reveal the profound credibility of historic Christianity. Meticulously researched yet eminently readable, this book invites a wide audience to take a firsthand look at the primary evidence for Christianity's origins. Reinventing Jesus shows believers that it's okay to think hard about Christianity, and shows hard thinkers that it's okay to believe.
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Modern liberal scholars like the highly touted Jesus Seminar want to create a caricature of Jesus which everyone can agree upon and which doesn't offend anyone. To accomplish this, they strip away the miracles, the prophetic announcements, the fiery judgement, and the exclusiveness of Jesus. Thus we are left with a beatnick philosopher who never would have offended anyone, been nailed to a cross, or inspired his followers to risk martyrdom by proclaiming him as lord and saviour.
The authors of this book focused their efforts on defending the New Testament...and what a masterful job they did. The New Testament is the target of debunkers. In order to create their own Jesus, they have to drive a wedge between Jesus and the New Testament. To them, the real Jesus can be found only in verses which are hand-picked by a panel of scholars, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the gnostic gospels, etc. ad nauseum. This book exposes the reinvention of Jesus for what it really is, a fraud and a sham.
The book demonstrates how the Christian concepts of baptism, rebirth, and resurrection are foisted upon pagan myths by sensationalists who claim that Jesus was a product of the so-called mystery religions.
The so-called gnostic gospels portray a Jesus which is far less human than the Jesus portrayed in the canonical gospels. The reason why they were widely rejected by the early Christians is quite simple...They had no real value.
Another brilliant insight can be found in Galatians 2 where Paul openly admits that he travelled to Jerusalem and laid his gospel before the pillar apostles in order to verify the accuracy of the gospel which he was preaching to the gentiles. Paul goes on to say that they added nothing to his gospel which obviously met their approval.
The idea that the divinity of Christ was created in the fourth century is absurd. Some of the 48 fragmentary Greek texts which predate the fourth century explicitly mention the divinity of Christ. Second century Roman critics of Christianity such as Celsus, Pliny, and Lucian testified that Christians drew the ire of Roman authorities because they worshipped Jesus.
The authors point out that a huge amount of New Testament manuscripts dating from as early as the second century over a wide geographical area have been carefully scrutinized and compared. Similarities of the same passage point to much earlier sources and the variations among the manuscripts are too miniscule to change the core doctrines of the Christian faith. The Apostolic Fathers of the early second century such as Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, and Clement of Rome quoted passages from the New Testament. In addition, the Muratorian Canon containing much of the New Testament, including the four gospels, was composed at the end of the second century.
The real controlling authorities of what was handed down in the canonical gospels were not a council of fourth century church fathers but the earliest eyewitnesses to Jesus himself. Richard Bauckham also makes this point in his book "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses". The synoptic gospels were committed to writing before the last of these eyewitnesses passed away. If the canonical gospels were somehow altered we must assume that Jesus' disciples were completely disengaged from the earliest Christian communities or suffered from complete amnesia after the resurrection.
The greatest insight in this book which should blow away all the arguments of the debunkers is the fact that a high degree of unanimity in regard to the New Testament existed over a wide geographical area long before the fourth century and long before there was any central church authority.
AMAZING ISN'T IT!!! Christians from as far west as Britannia and as far east as Mesopotamia and Syria accepted the same books which were incorporated into the New Testament long before there were any church councils to tell them to do so!
IMAGINE THAT!!! Coptic Christians in Egypt and Syriac Christians in the Persian empire were reading the same four gospels as Greek speaking Byzantine Christians and Latin speaking Roman Christians!
All this should make it very clear that the earliest controlling authorities over what was handed down to us in the canonical gospels were not fourth century bishops but the actual disciples of Jesus and those who witnessed him firsthand. IF YOU DON'T LIKE WHAT'S WRITTEN IN THE GOSPELS...BLAME THEM!!!
I realize that the debunkers have too much time, money, and reputation invested in trying to reinvent Jesus to accept the truth for what it is. Hopefully, some of the MTV generation with a mind of their own will see the reinvention of Jesus for what it is...a fraud.
The bottom line is that the biblical Jesus is as close as we will ever get to the real Jesus.
The writing style of the three authors is smooth and balanced and they compliment each other nicely -- at times it is difficult to discern who has written which portion. The authors make no secret that this is a volume for motivated laymen and that designation certainly sticks. It's too advanced for the novice or nominal church-goer but certainly not a scholarly tome. Reinventing Jesus falls somewhere in the middle combining easy to read writing and detailed information concerning the person of Christ.
All too often the New Testament is treated by skeptics as a collection of books riddled with misinformation that came decades after Jesus lived. It is posited that because these accounts weren't written within the first few years of their occurance that they must be wrong in some way, shape, of form. The authors debunk this anachronistic belief by explaining the oral culture of the ancient world which segues into a treatment of the New Testament texts and their reliability.
They then proceed to address the issue of the canon of Scripture and why the books that made it in fit the bill. After this foundation is laid they examine Jesus according to Scripture, extra-biblical sources, and in Church history.
The final section of the book was a pleasure to read as it is often posited by skeptics but rarely addressed by believers and that is the alleged Christian borrowing from pagan myths to create a 'Jesus story'. Relying heavily on Ronald H. Nash's 'The Gospel and the Greeks' and Bruce Metzger's 'Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian' the authors thoroughly demonstrate that the NT did not borrow its presentation of Jesus from pagan sources and in fact there are times when the pagans can be said to have borrowed from the Christian!
I have given this book 4 stars rather than 5 only because end notes annoy me to no end. I much rather prefer the notes to be on the same page as the text I'm reading but as far as content goes, Reinventing Jesus is as good as it gets for a laymen friendly apologetic of the historical (and theological) Jesus.