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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent, Jargon-Free Look at the Scholarly Evidence
There Was No Jesus, There Is No God is one of the best books I've read dealing with issues surrounding the debate about the historical Jesus and the existence of god. While the author is a Religious Studies scholar, this particular book is his attempt to condense all of the scholarly material and make it easily understood by non-scholars. This is one reason why I enjoyed...
Published 14 months ago by PrimeTruth

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3.0 out of 5 stars Have faith?
Makes some interesting observations about the evidence (or, more accurately, lack of evidence) for the authenticity of Jesus, God and The Bible and dresses them up in a kind of pseudo-mathematical analysis. it's a bit long-winded and repeats itself at times, but the core argument is strong, if not entirely original. In essence, it leaves us with the familiar position that...
Published 8 months ago by Steve Hewitt


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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent, Jargon-Free Look at the Scholarly Evidence, 20 Sep 2013
There Was No Jesus, There Is No God is one of the best books I've read dealing with issues surrounding the debate about the historical Jesus and the existence of god. While the author is a Religious Studies scholar, this particular book is his attempt to condense all of the scholarly material and make it easily understood by non-scholars. This is one reason why I enjoyed the book as much as I did. While I'm familiar with all of these issues, having studied many of these same sources the author uses myself, the author's down-to-earth approach to the subject matter and his excellent explanations of the issues was very helpful in solidifying my existing knowledge and putting it in very clear terms. I even learned a few new tidbits of information that I found fascinating.

The book is broken up into two sections. The first two chapters detail the search for a "Historical" Jesus or a "Biblical" Jesus within the pages of history. The author outlines the issues surrounding this search, such as the sources Biblical scholars use to conduct their search and the methodology they use to investigate those sources in order to determine facts about Jesus' life. The author then outlines the issues with the reliability of the Bible and questions whether or not anything meaningful can possibly be gleaned from the Bible about Jesus. The author, in that down-to-earth style demonstrates quite thoroughly - not to mention humorously - that there really is no reliable method of determining whether or not any kind of Jesus, historical or Biblical, really existed. The third chapter discusses in detail the evidence for a theory that is briefly mentioned in the previous chapters about a "non-literal," "celestial" Jesus. Finally, the author discusses how the Jesus story parallels many other stories of other mythical figures throughout history.

After dismantling any hope of the Bible being relied upon to tell us any reliable information about Jesus, the author begins the second section of the book and turns his sights to the issue of the existence of the Christian god. Prior to this, however, is a brief discussion on the merits (along with an examination of a few of the objections) of Bayesian reasoning, a mathematical calculation that is used to deduce the probability of something. The author discusses using this method to give a probability estimate for Jesus' resurrection.

Chapters five and six cover the evidence for the existence of god and these are much shorter chapters than the discussion about Jesus. Chapter five is more of a Preface to chapter six, briefly discussing the "three ways" a believer might go about trying to prove the Christian god's existence: scientific arguments, historical arguments, and philosophical arguments, of which he humorously opines that these philosophical arguments are "lazy, ambiguous, speculative, discriminatory, and often appeal to our ignorance." I couldn't agree more. Like the author, I prefer to rely on evidential arguments.

In chapter six the author briefly deconstructs the philosophical arguments, mostly of William L. Craig. Due to the fact that the author does not give much weight to philosophical arguments this chapter is very brief, as it should be (because philosophical arguments for god are pointless anyway), but if a reader is looking for a thorough book on philosophical arguments to use against Christian belief, this is not the book for you. However, the author does present his own philosophical argument, which seeks to demonstrate how philosophical arguments for god's existence are useless (talk about irony)!

Unlike many of the more recent books about religion that seem to shove the author's viewpoint down your throat, the author seems more like a considerate guide, as he educates you on the facts of the case so as to enable you to make up your own mind on the issues about Jesus' historicity or god's existence. I found the book to be well-written and funny. It was not only fun to read but it was very educational. I'd highly recommend this book to new deconverts or believers who are interested in historical Jesus studies and Jesus mythicism.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Have faith?, 26 Mar 2014
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This review is from: there was no Jesus, there is no God (Kindle Edition)
Makes some interesting observations about the evidence (or, more accurately, lack of evidence) for the authenticity of Jesus, God and The Bible and dresses them up in a kind of pseudo-mathematical analysis. it's a bit long-winded and repeats itself at times, but the core argument is strong, if not entirely original. In essence, it leaves us with the familiar position that belief in Jesus, God and The Bible comes down to whether or not you choose to have faith - believers cannot prove that Jesus or God really exist or that the bible really does accurately portray historical events, non-believers can't prove they don't exist or that The Bible is necessarily wrong. One interesting suggestion is that The Bible was never intended to be taken literally but is, instead, meant to provide guidance through made-up stories.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book, 24 Jan 2014
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This review is from: there was no Jesus, there is no God (Kindle Edition)
The thesis of this book is that there is very little (close to zero) evidence that Jesus ever existed. The documentary sources, i.e. the letters of Paul and the gospels, are not independent of each other and are unconvincing. There was also so much tampering with the evidence by early church leaders that it is very difficult to accept the existing sources as satisfactory. Raphael Lataster's arguments seem convincing to me. Recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Iconoclastic, 4 Feb 2014
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D. Smith (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: there was no Jesus, there is no God (Kindle Edition)
For me the main value of this book is that it provides an introduction to the school of thought that questions whether Jesus was a real person rather than just a mythical creation - I was previously unaware quite how shaky the evidence is for a 'historical Jesus'. Of course, even if Jesus was a historical figure, there's no need to accept claims of his resurrection, divinity and so forth.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Christian should read this book., 6 Dec 2013
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Don't be put off by the title, this is not an atheist polemic! Treating the basic tenets of Christianity, the existence of Christ & of God, as hypotheses the author then seeks for evidence which will prove these hypotheses. His position is quite clear - he doesn't set out to disprove Christianity but to examine & analyse the available evidence & to draw conclusions based on that evidence using the methods of the historian, not the theologian.

The number of references cited gives a clear indication of the enormous amount of research that has gone into the writing of this book - scholarly but written in a style which makes it readable for the lay reader.

If you're a Christian, please read this book . . . it could change your life!
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unoriginal and repetitive ad nauseum, 1 Jan 2014
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This review is from: there was no Jesus, there is no God (Kindle Edition)
This book reads like it is a beefed up literature survey for a doctoral thesis. In fact, I suspect that is exactly what it is - the author makes reference to his `research project' several times. The book is highly repetitive on its key points (e.g. there are no primary sources for Jesus' life) so much so that it borders on being insulting to his readers' intelligence. This book could easily have been halved in length with no loss of content.

As with many literature reviews by doctoral students, it is heavy on the referencing of others' research but weak on original thought. He criticises other scholars widely, usually by returning to the premise that they have no primary source. The only author Lataster doesn't seem to lambast is Richard Carrier. In fact, the deference shown to Carrier verges on the obsequious and hagiographic - I can only assume Carrier is his supervisor or in line to be his examiner.

Lataster has what he calls a Bayesian interlude in the book. This is a complete joke - he obviously doesn't get it. He `parrot-phrase' repeats some of Carrier's arguments for the intellectual rigour that a Bayesian analysis demands in terms of testing arguments against both hypothesis and counter hypothesis. He then completely ignores them and triumphantly claims `... the revealed evidence, e, did not even need to be seriously considered in order to rationally dismiss the claim (h)'. Lataster doesn't even need Bayes' Theorem to get to this conclusion. If I were a pedant, I'd pick him up for saying P(~h|b) is very large - no! It's very close to unity.

I do think Lataster's book is sadly lacking in one key area and it is this. If there was no historical Jesus, what was the catalyst that, not only, created the Christian movement but was so powerful that the movement has lasted 2,000 years? Lataster treats all the biblical documents as pieces of evidence. He does not discuss the different strands of intellectual development that the different sources represent. Jesus appeared to promise a bodily resurrection - the fact that the first century CE wasn't awash with resurrected Christians must have been a huge embarrassment to the new movement. Up until the Nicene Council of 325CE Christian theologians were trying to come to terms of whether Jesus was a man, a demi-God or if he and God were of `equal substance'. Lataster relies heavily on the Pauline epistles as the oldest source, but there is every reason to believe that St. Augustine tampered with these. None of this is discussed in Lataster's book.

Finally, a word on the quality of the English used in the book. Lataster seems to revel in the opportunity to use colloquial English. This is fine in the right context but, here, it detracts even further from the thin veil of academic credibility that Lataster is trying to maintain. He also has the annoying tendency of putting prepositions at the end of sentences.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes I am in agreement with the author's logical explanation and logic.We've been conned!!, 23 Nov 2013
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It's sad that some people need to believe in something supernatural in order to get by in life.The trouble is that they won't even research their subject but believe blindly.This book is almost well written and gives plenty of food for thoughts?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, 19 Aug 2014
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Pretty well researched, I just found it difficult to search through the contents...
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 22 July 2014
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very wordy. couldn't finish reading it
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this, 19 Jan 2014
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Dawn (BRIDGWATER, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Well written.. Not just a rehash of other authors work. Open minded as well. No matter what you believe give it a read as he is not preaching just informing.
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