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Historical Jesus

Historical Jesus

Jesus On Trial

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In Jesus on Trial, David Limbaugh applies his lifetime of legal experience to a unique new undertaking: making a case for the gospels as hard evidence of the life and work of Jesus Christ. Limbaugh, a practicing attorney and former professor of law, approaches the canonical gospels with the same level of scrutiny he would apply to any legal document and asks all the necessary questions about the story of Jesus told through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. His analysis of the texts becomes profoundly personal as he reflects on his own spiritual and intellectual odyssey from determined skeptic to devout Christian. Ultimately, Limbaugh concludes that the words Christians have treasured for centuries stand up to his exhaustive inquiry—including his examination of historical and religious evidence beyond the gospels—and thereby affirms Christian faith, spirituality, and tradition.

Can We Still Believe the Bible?

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Challenges to the reliability of Scripture are perennial and have frequently been addressed. However, some of these challenges are noticeably more common today, and the topic is currently of particular interest among evangelicals. In this volume, highly regarded biblical scholar Craig Blomberg offers an accessible and nuanced argument for the Bible’s reliability in response to the extreme views about Scripture and its authority articulated by both sides of the debate. He believes that a careful analysis of the relevant evidence shows we have reason to be more confident in the Bible than ever before. As he traces his own academic and spiritual journey, Blomberg sketches out the case for confidence in the Bible in spite of various challenges to the trustworthiness of Scripture, offering a positive, informed, and defensible approach. ~ Publisher’s Description

The Christ Files

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Uniquely among the world’s religions, the central claims of Christianity concern not just timeless spiritual truths, but tangible historical events. At the heart of the of the Christian faith are things that are meant to have happened in Palestine between 5 BC and AD 30. It’s as if Christianity happily places its head on the chopping block of public scrutiny and invites anyone who wants to come and take a swing. Some of Christianity’s claims are so spectacular that they provoke a firestorm of questions, scrutiny, debate, and misinformation whenever they are discussed. The popularity of The Da Vinci Code and the frequent airing of TV documentaries delving into the darker uncertainties of Christianity show that such skepticism flourishes in the Western world today. In The Christ Files you will learn how historians know what they know about Jesus. Historian John Dickson embraces the need to examine Christianity’s claims in the light of history, opening readers to a wealth of ancient sources and explaining how mainstream scholars — whether or not they claim Christian faith personally — reach their conclusions. Christianity arrived on the historical scene at a time of great literary activity. While many texts penned by ancient philosophers, historians, poets, and playwrights can reliably inform us about Jesus himself and about the culture in which he lived, others are not so credible. Dickson skillfully highlights both types of sources along with the historical methods used to study Christianity’s claims. He also shows how historians asses the reliability of available data, and provides an honest but informed perspective on where historical issues are clear-cut and where personal faith comes into play. The Christ Files is a must-read for those looking to expand their understanding of early Christianity and the life of Jesus. ~ Book Description

Investigating Jesus

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An in-depth investigation into the history of Jesus, from his early beginnings to how he was viewed in the Enlightenment, the 20th Century, and beyond. In this lovely full-color book, the question of how much anyone can really know about Jesus of Nazareth is addressed. From the Gospels to the word of modern-day theologians to historical record, all accounts are examined in minute detail in attempt to uncover the truth. By reviewing ancient evidence, interviewing leading experts, and setting out a robust historical method, the reliability or unreliability of different sources, interpretations, and arguments is clearly established. Christianity prides itself on being a historical religion. Here this pride is subjected to a very close scrutiny and it is shown both how vital this is and yet how different Jesus was from the way he is so often portrayed today. ~ Book Description

The Historical Jesus of the Gospels

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The earliest substantive sources available for historical Jesus research are in the Gospels themselves; when interpreted in their early Jewish setting, their picture of Jesus is more coherent and plausible than are the competing theories offered by many modern scholars. So argues Craig Keener in The Historical Jesus of the Gospels. In exploring the depth and riches of the material found in the Synoptic Gospels, Keener shows how many works on the historical Jesus emphasize just one aspect of the Jesus tradition against others, but a much wider range of material in the Jesus tradition makes sense in an ancient Jewish setting. Keener masterfully uses a broad range of evidence from the early Jesus traditions and early Judaism to reconstruct a fuller portrait of the Jesus who lived in history. ~ Book Description

Dethroning Jesus

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New York Times best-selling author Darrell Bock teams with Daniel Wallace to help lay readers separate fact from fiction and help from hype in the recent best-selling Jesus books and television specials. There is a quest going on. It’s the quest to reduce Jesus to a mythic legend or to nothing more than a mere man. Scholars such as Elaine Pagels and James Tabor are using such recent discoveries as the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Thomas to argue that the Christ of Christianity is a contrived figure and that a different Christ-one human and not divine-is the “true” Christ. In his trademark easy-to-understand style Darrell Bock takes on these attempts to redefine Jesus in a convincing, winsome way that will help readers understand that the orthodox understanding of Christ and his divinity is as trustworthy and sure as it ever was. Joining Bock for the first time is fellow scholar Daniel Wallace.

The Jesus Legend

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Even mature Christians have trouble defending the person and divinity of Christ. The Jesus Legend builds a convincing interdisciplinary case for the unique and plausible position of Jesus in human history. He was real and his presence on the planet has been well-documented. The authors of the New Testament didn’t plant evidence, though each writer did tell the truth from a unique perspective. This book carefully investigates the Gospel portraits of Jesus — particularly the Synoptic Gospels — assessing what is reliable history and fictional legend. The authors contend that a cumulative case for the general reliability of the Synoptic Gospels can be made and boldly challenge those who question the veracity of the Jesus found there. ~ Product Description

Misquoting Truth

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Were the New Testament documents widely distorted by copyists as Bart Ehrman, author of Misquoting Jesus, asserts? Can we in fact have no idea what was in the originals? Do we have no hope of knowing what
eyewitnesses said and thought? Are other documents left out of the New Testament better sources for understanding early Christianity? While readily conceding that Ehrman has many of his facts straight, pastor and researcher Timothy Paul Jones argues that Ehrman is far too quick to jump to false and unnecessary conclusions. In clear, straightforward prose, Jones explores and explains the ins and outs of copying the New Testament, why lost Christianities were lost, and why the Christian message still rings true today. ~ Publisher’s Description

Misquoting Jesus

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The popular perception of the Bible as a divinely perfect book receives scant support from Ehrman, who sees in Holy Writ ample evidence of human fallibility and ecclesiastical politics. Though himself schooled in evangelical literalism, Ehrman has come to regard his earlier faith in the inerrant inspiration of the Bible as misguided, given that the original texts have disappeared and that the extant texts available do not agree with one another. Most of the textual discrepancies, Ehrman acknowledges, matter little, but some do profoundly affect religious doctrine. To assess how ignorant or theologically manipulative scribes may have changed the biblical text, modern scholars have developed procedures for comparing diverging texts. And in language accessible to nonspecialists, Ehrman explains these procedures and their results. He further explains why textual criticism has frequently sparked intense controversy, especially among scripture-alone Protestants. In discounting not only the authenticity of existing manuscripts but also the inspiration of the original writers, Ehrman will deeply divide his readers. Although he addresses a popular audience, he undercuts the very religious attitudes that have made the Bible a popular book. Still, this is a useful overview for biblical history collections. ~ Bryce Christensen for Booklist.

What Have They Done with Jesus?

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With all the talk these days about a diversity of Christian beliefs in the first century, here’s a book designed to smack some sense into the dialogue. Traditional sense, that is. Witherington, professor of New Testament interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary, creates well-researched profiles of people in Jesus’ inner circle — profiles that stand up to the most rigorous biblical criticism. No flights of fancy — just the historical understandings as they can be agreed upon by the best and brightest evangelical biblical scholars. At times, there is a strong whiff of defensiveness about the orthodoxy of the canon as Witherington skewers views on early Christian beliefs made popular by Gnosticism scholars Elaine Pagels and Karen King (they being among the purveyors of the “strange theories and bad history” in the title). Readers seeking a uniform and conservative view of early Christianity will find a wealth of information about Jesus and his early followers, which offers an ardent corrective to recent popular works by Bart Ehrman and others. Others, however, may be so put off by Witherington’s polemical tones that they miss the meat of his research. ~ Publishers Weekly

Reinventing Jesus

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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. ~ Publisher’s Description

Ben Witherington III on Jesus as a Historical Reality

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Any position in which claims about Jesus or the resurrection are removed from the realm of historical reality and placed in a subjective realm of personal belief or some realm that is immune to human scrutiny does Jesus and the resurrection no service and no justice. It is a ploy of desperation to suggest that the Christian faith would be little affected if Jesus was not actually raised from the dead in space and time. A person who gives up on the historical foundations of our faith has in fact given up on the possibility of any real continuity between his or her own faith and that of a Peter, Paul, James, John, Mary Magdalene, or Priscilla. The first Christian community had a strong interest in historical reality, especially the historical reality of Jesus and his resurrection, because they believed their faith, for better or for worse, was grounded in it.

N.T. Wright on the Resurrection’s Historical Import

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I stress the historical angle from the outset because it has of course been argued, indeed insisted upon, in many circles that whatever we mean by the resurrection of Jesus, it is not accessible to historical investigation. As Dominic Crossan remarked about the study of Jesus in general, there have been some who said it could not be done, some who said it should not be done and some who said the former when they meant the latter. Getting to the heart of these objections and answering them in detail would take us far too afield within a single chapter. I simply wish to assert that the historian, so far from being debarred from the investigation of Jesus’ resurrection, is in fact obligated to undertake such an investigation. Without it a large hole remains in the center of first-century history, no matter what presuppositions the historian may possess.

Jesus Under Fire

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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. ~ From the Publisher

David James Duncan on Making Up Jesus

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It’s funny how everybody has their own pet notion about Jesus and nobody’s pet notion seems to agree with anybody else’s. Grandawma, for instance, says He’s “just a defunct social reformer.” Then there’s Papa, who once said he’s God’s Son all right, and that He survived the crucifixion just fine, but that the two-thousand-year-old funeral service his cockeyed followers call Christianity probably made Him sorry he did. Meanwhile there’s Freddy, who’s six now, and who told me she saw Christ hiding under her bed one night, but that all He’d say to her was “Psst! Shhh! Pharisees!”

The Seventy-Four “Scholars”

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A major new work of scholarship is raising eyebrows in many quarters: The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say?1 This is the product of six years of extensive consultation by a group of scholars known as the Jesus Seminar (hereafter JS), who have set out to determine the authentic words of Jesus. The result is a book that (1) provides a fresh, colloquial, and at times racy translation of the five gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the noncanonical Gospel of Thomas); (2) colors every saying attributed to Jesus in these Gospels as either red, pink, gray, or black (red means Jesus said it; pink means it’s close to what He said; gray means He didn’t say it in this form but there are echoes of His teaching in it; and black means the saying didn’t come from Him at all); and (3) provides passage-by-passage commentary explaining the JS’s rationale for its decisions. As the book jacket and popular press releases emphasize, only 20 percent of all the sayings of Jesus are colored red or pink and a good number of these come from Thomas!

Scaling the Secular City

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Moreland’s work must be considered one of the premier works on apologetics written by an evangelical. Although William Lane Craig is probably now worthy to be called the dean of evangelical apologists, Moreland’s volume from the 1980s still stands alone as the best single volume in dealing with challenges to the Christian faith. This is due in large part to two factors: the format of the book and Moreland’s concise way in handling the issues under discussion. ~ Shannon Richie … “No evangelical now writing on apologetics surpasses Moreland in philosophical ability. Every person who intends to speak for Christ to the contemporary mind should master the content and spirit of this book.” ~ Dallas Willard, University of Southern California.

The Historical Reliability of the Gospels

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For over twenty years, Craig Blomberg’s The Historical Reliability of the Gospels has provided a useful antidote to many of the toxic effects of skeptical criticism of the Gospels. Offering a calm, balanced overview of the history of Gospel criticism, especially that of the late twentieth century, Blomberg introduces readers to the methods employed by New Testament scholars and shows both the values and limits of those methods. He then delves more deeply into the question of miracles, Synoptic discrepancies and the differences between the Synoptics and John. After an assessment of noncanonical Jesus tradition, he addresses issues of historical method directly. This new edition has been thoroughly updated in light of new developments with numerous additions to the footnotes and two added appendixes. Readers will find that over the past twenty years, the case for the historical trustworthiness of the Gospels has grown vastly stronger.

Michael Green on the Historical Impact of Jesus

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Jesus of Nazareth remains the most important individual who has ever lived. Nobody else has had comparable influence over so many nations for so long. Nobody else has so affected art and literature, music and drama. Nobody else can remotely match his record in the liberation, the healing and the education of mankind. Nobody else has attracted such a multitude not only of followers but of worshippers. ¶ And nobody else has been subjected to such intense and prolonged critical study. After more than two hundred years of detailed examination and argument, many of the critical issues remain astonishingly open. The high-water mark of scepticism has receded somewhat. It is no longer assumed without question that nothing orthodox can be true. But certain emphases, methodologies and presuppositions, common in New Testament studies, are widely held to militate against the reliability of the picture of Jesus presented to us by the documents. There is a rumour abroad that in these days of redaction criticism it is neither proper nor necessary to ask what actually happened, and that the Jesus of history is indistinguishable behind the Christ of faith.

Francis A. Schaeffer on the Jesus of History

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The old liberal theologians in Germany began by accepting the presupposition of the uniformity of natural causes as a closed system. Thus they rejected everything miraculous and supernatural, including the supernatural in the life of Jesus Christ. Having done that, they still hoped to find a historical Jesus in a rational, objective, scholarly way by separating the supernatural aspect of Jesus’ life from the “true history”. Their search for the historical Jesus was doomed to failure. The supernatural was so intertwined with the rest that if they ripped out all the supernatural, there was no Jesus left! If they removed all the supernatural, no historical Jesus remained; if they kept the historical Jesus, the supernatural remained as well.