By Spencer D Gear
This is a review for Amazon.com: The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition.
I have spent hundreds of hours reading skeptics of the Gospels, particularly John D. Crossan, as I write my doctoral dissertation. Crossan claims that “the last chapters of the gospels and the first chapters of Acts taken literally, factually, and historically trivialize Christianity and brutalize Judaism” (see Crossan “Almost the whole truth” 1993).
Others promote that we need to distinguish “the ‘mythical’ (anything legendary or supernatural) in the gospels from the historical.” Speaking of Crossan’s, The Historical Jesus, British scholar, N. T. Wright, claims “the book is almost entirely wrong.”
Bruno Bauer, Arthur Drews and G. A. Wells argue that the Jesus tradition is perhaps entirely fictional in nature.
To these and other doubters of Gospel content, Paul Eddy & Greg Boyd, in The Jesus Legend, challenge the Jesus-legend thesis and defend the historical reliability of the Synoptic Jesus tradition – based on evidence.
This is a book for those who want the challenges of the skeptical left addressed in a substantive, scholarly way. The authors examine (1) The historical method & the Jesus tradition in first-century Palestine, (2) Other witnesses, including ancient historians & the apostle Paul, (3) The early oral tradition between Jesus and the Gospels, and (4) The Synoptic Gospels as historical sources for reliable evidence for Jesus.
They reach the researched decision that “our broad cumulative case for the historicity of the essential portrait(s) of Jesus found in the Synoptic Gospels” refutes the legendary-Jesus thesis, based on the Gospels an examination of “the general religious environment Jewish Palestine” (p. 452).
They are in agreement with James Dunn that “if we are unsatisfied with the Jesus of the Synoptic tradition, then we will simply have to lump it; there is no other truly historical or historic Jesus” (cited in p. 453).
This is one of the most refreshing books I have read in my scholarly escapades. It is not for those who want a nice bed-time story, but for those who seek answers to the scholarly rot of recent years that has infected the church and the Christian faith.
Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 7 October 2015.