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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lively and instructive virtual seminar, 14 April 2011
Withnail67 (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Historical Jesus: Five Views (Paperback)
I've recently been engaging in a certain degree of self education about the historical figure of Jesus. After reading John Romer's Testament AN Wilson,and Ian Wilson, I felt it was time to widen my reading from populist texts to a more academic engagement with the hugely complicated subject. I teach English and am passionately if amateurishly well read in history of all periods. Surely the act of reading the figure of Jesus of Nazareth is the ultimate expression and challenge of these two disciplines?

I was delighted to read this book which was exactly what I was looking for. Quite simply, five academics, of highly significant reputation in the field, take it in turns to present an essay on their view of the quest for the historical Jesus of Nazareth. In virtually every case, each short but stimulating essay draws on a lifetime of academic engagement and debate with the subject. After each essay, the other for contributors provide a short but academically challenging engagement with the argument. This gives a real sense of being involved in a high level seminar on the subject, but I found their presentation and arguments very clear and accessible to a general reader.

The real delight is that all five academics taken together, provide a broad spectrum of postures on the topic, ranging from a denial that the historical Jesus existed at all, right the way through to an acceptance that the Jesus of the Gospels provides the "gist" of the historical Jesus. A particularly strong element of these discussions, is the constant questioning and redefinition of methodology and terminology, which makes the quality of the argument very precise.

While reading, I underlined any of the texts mentioned in the ample footnotes and bibliography that might provide me with further reading. To my combined horror and delight, I discovered that this was in excess of 30 books! I think this is a lot about the quality of the introduction to the subject that this book provides.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A balanced review, 11 July 2010
This review is from: The Historical Jesus: Five Views (Paperback)
The gospels purport to tell us about the life and teaching of Jesus. But they were written many years after the events they describe, were written in the light of the post-Easter faith, and are not biographies as we understand them but theological works designed to persuade their readers of the claims of the Christian faith. Is it possible to get behind these records and discover the man Jesus. To discover the Jesus of history as opposed to the Christ of faith?
There have been many books written about the quest for the historical Jesus, and many different conclusions drawn. This book is an attempt to give a birds eye view of the history and current state of the quest. It does so by presenting five essays by five theologians with a range of viewpoints. At one end of the spectrum we have an argument that the person called Jesus never existed, and at the other end an acceptance of the gospel records as giving a useful, if not literal, account of his life. And three other perspectives in between. The editors have also provided a lengthy introduction on the history of the quest for the historical Jesus, and explained some of the issues involved.
I found this a gripping book. Written by scholars but suitable for the laymen, yet meaty enough for my taste, with many biblical references which sent me off on a treasure hunt of the bible and relevant commentaries. I strongly recommend it to anyone who is trying to balance the claims of the Christian faith with intellectual honesty. It has given me plenty to think about.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Review: The Historical Jesus edited by Beilby and Eddy, 24 Feb. 2013
M. B. P. Lee - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Historical Jesus: Five Views (Paperback)
I have rated this book with 4 stars, not because I was gripped with its contents or editorial skills but because it confirmed for me the kind of thinking behind academic theologians and evangelists. I will admit, as a layman, I was able to read and digest only a few pages at a time, and I had to persist to finish it. I found massive quotes of chapter and verse of the Bible unhelpful and distressing as I should have had a Bible next to me to know to what the authors were referring to. Otherwise those references would be meaningless to most readers.

I was hoping to gain an insight into the 'historical Jesus' but instead I found that like most evangelists, these academics and theologians were seeking 'historical Jesus' "within the limited boundaries of the Gospels and Biblical literature," never once exceeding these 'boundaries of evangelicalism,' nor were there any suggestions that Jesus in the Bible could have been an allegorical Jesus. Yet none of the authors ever questioned the historical authenticity of the Gospels or their authorship nor the possibilities that such literature written hundreds of years after the event were not historical but simply a collection of allegorical stories plagiarised from one another, edited and re-edited by numerous scribes, Pharisees, and theologians until the stories were sanitised and harmonised to suit their objectives. Or even suggested that there could have been possible corruption or cosmetically dressed versions of the original events presented for popular consumption. Thus I was rather disappointed with the uncritical manner of the examination by these theologians in their search for historical Jesus. I was disappointed with the findings of the 'historical Jesus' as the search was very limited in scope.

I do not believe that the historical events as stated in the Bible have yet been fully verified historically or archaeologically. There have been recent archaeological findings that are now being analysed that could reveal a different aspect to Biblical history.
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The Historical Jesus: Five Views
The Historical Jesus: Five Views by James Beilby (Paperback - 18 Feb. 2010)
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