3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
Some strong points, but too much of an axe to grind, 4 Aug 2011
David Wenham makes a convincing case about how well Paul understood Jesus and he does point out indications in Paul's letters that show Paul was aware of Jesus' teaching even if he rarely explicitly refers to them. His main aim is to discredit conspiracy theories (made popular by the likes of Dan Brown) that Paul invented the idea of a divine Jesus and he does this admirably. Where he is less convincing is when looking at the two men's outlook on Gentiles. Wenham just does not go into much detail about Jesus' own view (mostly dismissing it as saying Jesus said little on the subject bar not seeming to follow the Law slavishly), ignoring controversial areas like Jesus' reluctance to aid the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15.
Furthermore, although he does provide good evidence that the New Testament is largely accurate regarding historical and geographical details, he doesn't make any mention that the gospels disagree with one another on certain issues, and are not in any way objective making the New Testament a flawed source. There are also some suspect assertions made, for instance he states that the Pharisees were a small sect in Judaism and similar to the religious extremists of today. That is just not true. The Pharisaic tradition was on the rise during the First Century and the Pharisees were much more moderate in their interpretation of the Law than the Sadducees or Essenes. The author also is very dismissive in his language when he refers to what he dubs the "new atheist" scholars and to a lesser extent Muslim scholars.
The book is an easy, entertaining read and does make a very strong case. Just do not make it the only book you read on the subject as the author is far from unbiased.