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Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? [Paperback]

Paul Copan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group (1 Jan 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801021758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801021756
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 841,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Book Description
Based on a recent debate held at Moody Church in Chicago between John Dominic Crossan, former co-chair of the Jesus Seminar, and evangelical William Lane Craig, "Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?" is the first book to present, in one volume, a dialogue between evangelicals and members of the Jesus Seminar on the resurrection of Christ. Skillfully moderated by William F. Buckley Jr., this volume includes responses from Jesus studies experts such as Craig L. Blomberg, Ben Witherington III, Marcus Borg, and Robert J. Miller to round out the discussion.

"This book will help people to get to grips with what is really going on, and what is really at stake, in the contemporary debate." --N. T. Wright, author of "Jesus and the Victory of God"

"This book is notable for the fairness of its format and the forthright nature of the exchange, which is candid yet always civil in character. . . . An exciting, helpful book." --C. Stephen Evans, author of "The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith"

"Brings into sharp relief the contours of the debate and should serve well the Christian community--conservative and nonconservative alike." --Craig A. Evans, author of "Jesus", "Studying the Historical Jesus", and "Jesus in Context"

"A helpful introduction to the issues involved in the modern discussion of the historical Jesus." --Robert H. Stein, author of "Jesus the Messiah"

Paul Copan is a Ph.D. candidate at Marquette University. Formerly an adjunct professor at Trinity International University, he is currently on staff with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Norcross, Georgia. Copan is the author of "True for You, but Not for Me". He lives in Suwanee, Georgia.



Part 1 The Debate

About the Participants

1 Introduction to the Debate

2 Opening Addresses

3 William Lane Craig's Rebuttal

4 John Dominic Crossan's Rebuttal

5 Dialogue

6 Closing Statements

Part 2 Responses and Concluding Reflections

7 Responses

What Do Stories about Resurrection(s) Prove?

The Jesus of History and the Christ of Faith: Harmony or Conflict?

The Irrelevancy of the Empty Tomb

Resurrection Redux

8 Concluding Reflections

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who is the historical Jesus? 1 Feb 1999
By A Customer
Craig and Crossan both provide opening addresses, and rebuttals before the two debaters participate in open dialog with Buckley as moderator. Craig presents four lines of evidence which provide "adequate inductive grounds for inferring Jesus' resurrection." He defends all four (Jesus' burial, empty tomb, post-mortem appearances, and the disciples' belief in Jesus' bodily resurrection) by appealing to confirmatory evidence and the acknowledgement by the consensus of critical New Testament scholarship that these are all established historical facts. As amazing as it may sound, at no point does Crossan, or any of the four respondents (Robert Miller, Craig Blomberg, Marcus Borg, & Ben Witherington) even challenge the historicity of these facts. Nor do they challenge that these facts are accepted by the consensus of scholarship, nor that they provide sufficient grounds to infer the resurrection, nor do they suggest any alternate explanations for even one of these facts. I wish that the scholars who deny the resurrection would address these problems rather than avoid them; it's difficult to get excited about a debate when one side refuses to argue.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This volume is an interesting summary of differing views of the historical Jesus, from evangelical scholar William Lane Craig and liberal John Dominic Crossan, moderated by William Buckley Jr (who's hardly a neutral party.)The different approaches the two take could hardly be made more explicit in the opening remarks, where Lane plunges directly into his arguments about the resurrection (assuming the entire NT can be trusted verbatim to be true), while Crossan expounds his theory of where the NT comes from (thereby suggesting that it's simplistic to argue from the premise that the NT is literally true.)Since the two never address these fundamental differences, the remainder of the debate, while interesting, is really the case of two sides not even speaking the same language. More helpful are the accompanying essays, especially Craig Blomberg's. Both sides make the claim that their views represent the majority of scholarly opinion,and both sides accuse the other of avoiding the issues.A much better debate book on these issues is the Marcus Borg/NT Wright, Jesus:2 Views.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Increased Respect For The Jesus Seminar 7 April 2002
By A Customer
I probably read this book too early before reading enough other material by members of the Jesus Seminar. Consequently, to make up for this deficiency I focused especially on the response by Marcus Borg. As far as the debate between Crossan and Craig was concerned, I thought it was won by Craig. After having read the entire book ,however, I was left with an increased respect for the contributions of the Jesus Seminar.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good -- sour grapes aside. 3 Jun 2001
By David Marshall - Published on Amazon.com
It is true that Crossan did not substantially engage many of Craig's arguments for the ressurection. Instead, he offered orthodox Christians (who presumably have been sheltered from such ideas) a paradigm shift: "It's metaphorical, the Gospel writers didn't really mean it that way." True, the debate and essays following do create more of an all-star, rather than world series, atmosphere. Yet the book does bring together some real stars, and they do put on a good display, in my opinion, baring on the most important spiritual questions we can ask.
Not all of the complaints below need to be taken seriously. "Buckley was biased. He called Crossan a puff of smoke." Who were you expecting, Barbara Walters? The man calls his show Firing Line: where there's fire, there's bound to be smoke. Crossan is a big scholar; he can take care of himself. "Craig got to go first, and last, too." Life is indeed unfair. Still, what you get here is three top scholars on both sides, each given time to develop their ideas. Not exactly a kangaroo court. "They spoke past each other. Crossan said the Gospels are metaphor, and Craig failed to reply." Not so. Crossan advanced his argument explicitly, and Craig even more explicitly refuted it. Not that it took much refuting. With the Gospels, it is obvious we're not dealing with Homer or Bunyan: precisely why they continue to cause such a fuss.
Miller wrote an interesting essay on how different an apologetic appears to those "inside" a group as opposed to those "outside." I did not find the particular example he gave, of Islamic apologetics, that strong, for the simple reason that from earliest times Islam has held that conversion "out" ws deserving of death. (The day before I first wrote this, I got an e-mail from a friend in Nigeria about a student of his whose uncle tried to knife him for converting to Christianity.) In a closed society, your apologetic doesn't have to carry all the weight of persuasion. (Can you imagine publicly debating the credibility of Muhammed in a Muslim country?) But even in the case of Humanism, it is striking to me that this debate, in which top scholars attacked a core belief of Christianity, was held in a church, and published by a Christian publisher. It is also striking that, as Blomberg points out, Crossan shows little or not familiarity with "evangelical" scholarship. (Unlike, to his credit, Lowder and his Internet Infidel friends.) Yet the secular media and academic worlds go to the likes of Crossan for expertise, or reassurance, as the case may be. In which direction, then, should the force of Miller's argument about tunnel vision and self-referential apologetics be turned?
In these discussions, comparative religion is usually brought in as an ally by the skeptical side, as here by Borg and Miller. But I think it actually offers powerful arguments for the truth of the Gospel. Those interested in the relationship between Christianity and other religions, and its implications for this discussion, might take a look at my recent book, Jesus and the Religions of Man.
30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I almost pitied Crossan 18 Sep 2001
By Kevin L. Stewart - Published on Amazon.com
First off, let me say that I listened to the orriginal tapes, and haven't read the book so I missed the additional comments that some are mentioning.
I agreee with other reviews that it was fairly one-sided but that is largely due to the fact that Crossan didn't seem to take the debate serious. It was obvious that Craig had read up and studied Crossan's works and came prepared. Crossan on the otherhand was woefully unequiped. (I'm told that it is common in bebates between liberals and conservatives that the liberal won't have read up on the conservative, but the conservative will do his/her homework on the liberal's position.) In his after-debate interview, Crossan claimed that he wasn't their to debate but just to present his case, but personally I think that was damage control after a sound beating.
Crossan made many dogmatic statements, but when questioned on them, was unable/unwilling to defend them. All he was say is that "credible scholars" back his statements. When pressed he didn't give any names. (It seems the "'credible' scholars" he is refering to are his fellows on the "Jesus Seminar".) He never did adequately address Craig's challenge of his bias towards Naturalism. He responce seemed to me merely playing with terms. Eccentually "I'm not a Naturalist, though I believe that the supernatural only ever works through the natural." (Not a direct quote, but the idea of his response.)
Craig, on the other hand, came ready to debate. He set up his arguement well and stated his case clearly. Also, he soundly challenged Crossan's points (though seldom if ever answered by Crossan). Craig definately did his research into Crossan's ideas and came prepared. Craig, I think, was wanting an intelectual debate and was not ready to engage in the exchange of dogmatic statements that characterizes the "Jesus Seminar"'s fellows. However, he did soundly demolish the basic foundations of most of Crossan's arguement. At times I almost pitied Crossan as some of Craig's refutations of Crossan's points would have been brutal had they not be given in such a "winsom" way. He very politely tore apart Crossan's ideas without touching him personally. I was a little dissappointed when Craig didn't answer a few of Crossan's minor points though. I thought that his comparison of Crossan's idea of believing in Christ even if he's just a metaphore and Peter Pan's philosophy was particuarly crushing.
At times Buckley does come off a little un-biased. He is a known conservative so it shouldn't have been surprising to Crossan. However, in this case (because of his after-debate comments) I believe that he wasn't trying to side against Crossan, but instead was challenging him to engage in an intelectual debate instead of just making dogmatic statement with little or no factual evidence.
Over all, I enjoyed it (though I'm not as conservative as Craig). I thought it was a good example of many modern liberal scholars who like to make statements with or without evidence. One particular example (taken from Crossan's works) is the idea of the teachings of James that SUPPOSEDLY contradict Paul's writtings. He supports these ideas but eventually has to admit that they no longer exist nor is there any evidence of them left. My question is if there is no evidence that they existed, how can he (Crossan) tell us what they said or even show that they existed?! Must be nice to get paid to make up stuff and claim it as authoritative
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars consider this an all-star game, not the championship match 11 April 2001
By isaac - Published on Amazon.com
Though thought-provoking at times, this exchange ultimately falls flat on the unwillingness (which many will interpret as inability) of the liberals to give more than a cursory, self-satisfied justification of their views. One would assume from their half-hearted effort that the liberals have no "facts" to back themselves up, but that is not my understanding of their position. The few factual arguments they did raise were ruthlessly shot down by Craig. And they barely tried refuting Craig's own factual assertions, so Craig could only point out their omissions and could not develop the debate any further.
There are some illuminating thoughts here, especially from the responses and Craig's concluding reflections -- thus, three stars. But those looking for "meat" should look elsewhere. I liken this book to an "all-star game" -- neat concept, but not to be taken too seriously.
One concluding note: even to this "conservative" reader Buckley's partisan "mediating" was inappropriate and distracting. His smug comments about Jesus making Crossan disappear "in a puff of smoke" and his attack-dog questioning of Crossan made the "debate" look like a 2-on-1 mugging. Craig would have done just fine by himself.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a Gret Debate! 13 Jun 2005
By G. Stucco - Published on Amazon.com
Craig rightly reproves Crossan for what he regards his vague and mythological belief. If Jesus is not risen, we are wasting our time when we worship him. Crossan believes that Jesus' resurrection is a symbolical way to say that he empowers our lives; however he justly corrects Craig when the latter claims that the "majority" of scholars believe that Jesus claimed to be God. The beauty of the debate also lies in the contributions given by the other scholars. Surprisingly the two Christians, Blomberg and Whitherington, criticized Craig several times. Craig, however, was able to rebuff these criticisms and to keep the pressure on Crossan in his closing remarks. I liked Miller's argument that evidentialist apologetics works best for "insiders," (people who are already believers) though Craig was able to mention how several dozen people, in his last debates, came to Christ as a result of his arguments. It would have probably been better to say, which Miller didn't, that apologetics works best for undecided people (plenty of those out there!) and that therefore we still need it and will for a long time.

Craig's 4 contentions never refuted by Crossan:

1) Jesus was buried

2) His tomb was found empty

3) His disciples claimed to have seen the risen Jesus

4) The resurrection best explains the nature of these visions.

By the way, Craig is Not saying that it is irrational NOT to believe in the Resurrection!!! He is saying that Jesus' resurrection is the MOST plausible and logical explanation of the events surrounding that famous Passover about 2000 years ago.

I also recommend Pinchas Lapide's The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective
51 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Liberals Didn't Take the 'Debate' Seriously 21 May 2000
By jlowder@infidels.org - Published on Amazon.com
WILL THE REAL JESUS PLEASE STAND UP? (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998) is a transcript of the debate between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan. The book contains responses to the debate by two conservatives (Craig L. Blomberg and Ben Witherington III) and two liberals (Robert J. Miller and Marcus Borg). Finally, Craig and Crossan each offer some concluding reflections on the debate.
Given that Craig and Crossan hold diametrically opposed views of Christian origins, this debate could have been an excellent opportunity to learn why each camp rejects the empirical claims of the other. Whereas the conservatives presented arguments for their positions (and point-by-point objections to Crossan's position), the liberals simply did not take the debate very seriously. Not only did Crossan fail to engage Craig on the specifics of his case, Crossan refused to engage in any historical argumentation. Instead, Crossan argued that the New Testament documents--including their accounts of resurrection--should be taken as metaphor. Now, even if that is true--and conservatives will obviously disagree--it was simply poor argumentative strategy on Crossan's part to neglect the empirical claims advanced by Craig. Given that Crossan denies the truth of each of Craig's four historical claims--burial by Joseph of Arimathea, empty tomb, post-resurrection appearances, and the origin of the Christian faith--I think Crossan did a disservice to his audience by failing to defend his objections to each of Craig's four historical claims.
To make matters worse, the two liberal commentators on the debate (Miller and Borg) *also* refused to interact with Craig's arguments for the historicity of the resurrection. Miller, in the introduction to his commentary, mysteriously declares, "[I]nstead of responding directly to Craig's argument, I will step back from it and analyze its format, message, and audience" (p. 77). Say what? Borg's commentary is slightly better; Borg argues that the original understanding of resurrection--represented by 1 Corinthians 15--"does not depend upon something having happened to Jesus' corpse" (p. 123). Yet Borg, like Miller and Crossan himself, declares as irrelevant whether the resurrection is literally, historically true.
Given their understanding of "resurrection," the liberals simply could not bring themselves to take Craig's apologetic arguments seriously. While that is certainly their prerogative, they never should have agreed to participate in this project if they were not fully committed to exploring the *full scope* of the topic. Someone needs to tell Crossan, Miller, and Borg that the concept of debate is based upon a *clash of ideas*; if they are not willing to directly clash with the arguments of their opponents; they should not agree to participate! If Crossan was only interested in debating whether Jesus' resurrection was a physical resurrection which depended upon an empty tomb, he should have refused to participate in a debate format where the truth of certain historical claims would be an issue. By participating in a debate but never really debating, Crossan has now managed to give the impression that he did not refute Craig's arguments because he can't refute Craig's arguments. This is, of course, false; there are excellent reasons for rejecting Craig's historical arguments. (See my forthcoming reply to Craig's arguments for the historicity of the empty tomb.) But the vast majority of Crossan's Evangelical audience will never hear those reasons because Crossan couldn't be bothered to state them, either in the debate itself or in his concluding comments.
Turning to the debater's concluding reflections, I was not impressed by the fact that Craig got to give his opening statement first *and* that his concluding reflections appeared last. Of course, Craig's and Crossan's concluding reflections were presumably written simultaneously and independent of one another, but in a debate where no one side had the sole burden of proof, Crossan's concluding reflections should have appeared last in the volume.
In conclusion, given the liberals' refusal to fully participate in this debate, I can't recommend this book to anyone, even as an introductory text. There are better introductory books available on the views of both Craig and Crossan.
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