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The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ Paperback – 1 Jan 1996

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: College Press Publishing Company; Subsequent edition (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0899007325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0899007328
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.3 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 837,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Habermas' work delves into the Historical Evidence for the Life of Christ. It looks into archaeological and Historical data and makes historical and careful conclusions based on this data. Habermas uses a historical approach and examines the evidence as a historican not a theologian- is this good or bad? Well seeing that the documents looked at are historical an Historical approach is the proper approach- theological approaches unfortunately ignore the evidence presented in archaeology and Manuscripts and write it the way they want. A truly historical approach asks questions like who wrote this? When was it written? What proof is there that this is produced by who it says produced it? What evidence is there that the artefact/ document is authentic? These are questions any bonafide historian asks when they come accross evidence. After all if Jesus Christ wasnt a real historical person then the whole of Christianity is pointless and a waste of time.
Habermas looks at early evidence about Jesus and based on this evidence- from non Christian and hostile sources as well as Christian sources concludes that Christ existed that he was crucified and buried and that something happened after the burial. The sources which state what happened are examined and they hold up pretty well to inspection and scrutiny as to their date and content.
The Jesus of the Bible is the historic Jesus is the conclusion of the book- a conclusion which is backed up by examining the evidence- what that means to us is quite a different question-
it is interesting that in the Gospels no one doubted that Jesus existed what was in question was who he was and what he was doing. These two questions still confront us today- how we respond to the answers are of vital importance.
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Well written and well balanced treatise. Good source references. I was looking for facts and good textual criticism got them both.Yes the author has an agenda but dont we all. I wish the Dawkins of this world were as open minded and balanced in their synopsises.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars 54 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read for those interested in facts and evidence... 21 Jan. 2015
By Dan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent treatment of the evidence outside of the bible that reveals a pretty good outline of Jesus' life, actions and how he was thought of by the ancient world. Gary Habermas does a great job of pointing out the facts, while not personally ripping anyone else for their beliefs. Since I am not an historian, but merely a layperson looking for answers, I appreciated the Appendix where he outlines the process of historiography and explains how an historian would look at the evidence. A great read that I have gone through multiple times.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I read this when I went to grad school the first time back in the day 24 May 2016
By BarabbaOr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this very long time ago. I wasn't raised as Believer. I was raised in an Atheist family. When I came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, long ago. I just wanted to "know that I know" this Jesus. I read a lot of William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga (both are probably the best debater and Philosopher) from my undergrad library. I don't know how I missed this gem. Because I was in my grad school library and I found it. I was supposed to be studying for a final and got bored in the library. I looked at what books they had and found this. I read the whole thing in one sitting back on that day, which was so long ago.

Dr. Habermas knows what he is talking about. My little brain soaked it up and actually retained a fair amount of it. I just got it again to re-read and give to a friend.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical, Scholarly work on the real Jesus 4 Jun. 2009
By Bobby Bambino - Published on Amazon.com
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I am convinced that this is THE book to give to anyone who doubts the historical fact of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. What Habermas does in this book is to show all of the historical facts that are agreed on by a majority of scholars. It is shocking once you realize all the facts that are agreed upon by scholars, but that many of these same scholars embrace hypothesis that fit the facts in an extremely ad hoc way just to avoid the resurrection of Jesus. Habermas does all of this by looking at a variety of sources. First, he points out that the New Testament is 27 separate historical documents of which we have more copies than ANY other documents in ancient antiquity by FAR. This by itself is an extremely important point because many people a priori blow off the New Testament. Yet there is no basis in the historical method for doing so. They may a priori be embellished or contain errors, but they are the most well-attested historical documents from ancient antiquity that we have. On top of this evidence, many non-Christian sources are also considered such as Tacitus, Josephus, and Pliny, as well as several others who mention Jesus and/or Christianity. The final set of sources that are almost always overlooked are the non-canonical Christian writings of the first 2 centuries like Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr, and even non-canonical gospels like Thomas, which can still give us some insight into the thoughts back in the day. Overall, the document evidence is simply overwhelming. It is a sign of intellectual bankruptcy to claim that Jesus never existed or to be skeptical about his existence.

If you have read some of the other reviews, the most critical claims against Habermas have to do with the legitimacy of the Shroud of Turin, as Habermas spends a chapter discussing that artifact. This is really a moot point because if the shroud were found to be a forgery today, that would do absolutely nothing to undermine all the other evidence that Habermas presents just in the form of ancient documents. That is really where one needs to focus the arguments for the truth of the resurrection; the historical documentation because anything else acts as a smokescreen.

One thing that is very helpful is that Habermas will quote an early document and then expound upon, point by point, all the information that may be gleaned from the quote. While that may seem trivial, he points out many facts in the quote that can easily be overlooked. It is helpful in the sense that we can very easily see many of the same themes, beliefs, and knowledges of the people around the time of Jesus. One example is the exegesis of 1 Cor 15:3-8, the first creed of the early Church. A TON of beliefs can be gleaned from a careful exegesis of this passage. Habermas also demonstrates that this creed is not in the typical style of the way Paul writes, and hence it represents a creed that was known far back, one not original to Paul. From this, we see that belief is a bodily, physical resurrection of Jesus was known to people very close to the time of Jesus' death, much to the chagrin of the Jesus Seminar. That is just a small sample of the kinds of insights this book provides.

This book is definitely a must read and invaluable resource. Highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 17 Oct. 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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Great read
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 13 Sept. 2014
By James I. Louis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nice survey on the historical evidence for Christ.
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