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Trusting the New Testament Paperback – May 14, 2009
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I give this product 4 stars as I feel it is not quite the slam dunk that "Shattering the Christ Myth" was, and he ventures a little more into pure Christian apologetic. This is not to say it is worthless, but it will have a more limited appeal. This time, instead of engaging most amateur conspiracy theorists, his targets including so-called liberal and "radical" scholars, especially biblical "Higher Critics." There is a nice section addressing the popular "telephone game" argument against the reliability of ancient texts which is helpful. Essentially the book helps the reader understand the process of remembering the life of Jesus, writing it down, and the process that went into collecting the New Testament into a canon, as well as the process of preservation of ancient texts, and how historians attempt to determine what most likely happened in the past. Through the lens of a discussion of whether we can "Trust" the New Testament, Holding provides a concise primer on historical criticism, as well as asking how we know what we think we know.
In many cases, Holding admittedly strays out from mainstream scholarship in his assertions about certain texts. Off hand, I could only recall two times however when I thought he had made a genuine mistake. The breadth of the book's positions were reasonable, even if some were held by only a minority of scholars. He is certainly correct in that well publicized groups like the Jesus Seminar do not actually represent the majority of scholars in the field, and are far from unbiased.
Suffice to say that even though I, as a Christian and a holder of a Masters level degree in religion, don't agree with everything he wrote in this text, I still find it a valuable source worth reading, full of reasonable arguments.
Many of course have attacked the author, saying that mocks his opponents and has an attitude problem online. No trace of this is present in this text. In fact, if anything, I would say that he shows more professionalism and respect for his opponents in this work than in his previous one. So comparing his personal websites to this book is like night and day. As with the previous volume in the "Building Block" series, it is the size of a magazine, with a softcover, a format I dislike but can live with. He cites his sources and presents his arguments in a format that is easy to read and understand for the amateur and expert alike. The book is made up of articles some by other writers and some by Holding himself.
If you believe anything historical from 1700+ years ago-- then it is very hard to justify not acknowledging the fact that the textual evidence of the New Testament is superior to other events in history that you already believe....
I have even contacted JPH with a few questions and to my suprise he actually takes the time to write back everytime. How many authors will do that?