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Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus
~Mr. Michael J. Wilkins , J.P. Moreland
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Average customer rating: 4.5 out of 5
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Sales rank: 41623

Product Information

Media: Paperback
ISBN/ASIN : 0310211395
Manufacturer : Zondervan
Release data : 17 July, 1996

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    1 star1 star1 star1 star1 star    Excellent Conservative Protestant Response to Jesus Seminar

    Edited by J.P. Moreland and Michael Wilkins, `Jesus Under Fire' is a collection of essays by conservative American Protestant scholars on a range of issues pertaining to Christianity. First published in the mid-1990s, the book is a response to some of the revisionist views put forward by the Jesus Seminar. Following are a few thoughts for potential readers on aspects of the work that I thought were particularly well done.

    Though not its main thrust, perhaps the book's most valuable contribution to the lay reader is its recognition of the inherently subjective nature of belief. Although we may not always be conscious of it, our interpretation of the world is influenced by our assumptions and beliefs - or worldview. This is true regardless of whether one is an atheist, a theist or a scientist. One worldview that comes into play when discussing the large metaphysical and ontological questions raised by religion is that of philosophical naturalism. In general, this view posits that reality is limited to the spacio-temporal world and that scientific induction is the primary means to truth (these assumptions are evident in work of the Jesus Seminar). In accordance with philosophical naturalism, non-naturalistic religious claims are dismissed as misguided or meaningless. Though this type of worldview is popular in contemporary Western society it is not without logical and epistemological challenges. For instance, any claim that science is the sole means to truth - is self-refuting since it (uniqueness of scientifically derived truth) is not itself derived through the scientific method. Although sometimes overlooked recognition of an author's perspective is an important aspect of critical reading.

    In his portion, Craig Blomberg does a commendable job of placing the work of the Jesus Seminar within the spectrum of `historic Jesus studies' (for an excellent overview of this subject readers can see Ben Witherington's `The Third Quest'). He notes the drawbacks associated with attempts to delve into ancient history as ascertain the "truth" is wrought with difficulties. To sift through data criteria have to be selected - i.e. what types of facts and source will be accepted. These criteria, in turn, often determine the outcome (e.g. naturalistic assumptions equals naturalistic Jesus). Blomberg argues that there is no good reason to think that the revisionist interpretations of modern liberal thinkers are preferable to traditional scholarship. I recommend Bruce or Metzger for readers seeking more on Christian canon (Blomberg has also written in more detail on the subject).

    Darrell Bock's chapter is also helpful. The Jesus Seminar expends significant time and effort attempting to discern what words traditionally credited to Jesus were actually spoken by him. Although it may make good press, in and of itself, this type of analysis is rather meaningless. As Bock points out, the important question is whether the Gospels reflect the true voice (the meaning) of Jesus, not whether they capture his exact syntax and grammar. Although Bock's comments are salient to religious study they are also useful for the study of history in general. In our technological age we place an emphasis on technical details that were not stressed in the past.

    Overall,`Jesus Under Fire' is the best short collection of essays that I have come across from a conservative protestant perspective. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the historic Jesus or Christianity in general. To get a view from both sides I would also recommend a look at `The Five Gospels' from the Jesus Seminar.




    1 star1 star1 star1 star1 star    Sober and Scholarly Defense of Jesus and the Gospels

    "Jesus Under Fire" was a collection of essays written by scholars who disagreed with the often-publicised views of the Jesus Seminar (e.g. Robert Funk, John Dominic Crossan, etc.) The general reading public should heed the findings of this book and not just pay attention to the often one-sided presentation of the Jesus Seminar. First and foremost, the Jesus Seminar scholars do NOT represent the majority of Christian scholarship in our world today. More often than not, the scholars who make up the Jesus Seminar are the exceptions from the majority scholars - they are, in truth, the surviving vestige of the liberal scholarship from the previous century who have somehow decided to air their views in the public media.

    Craig Blomberg, Scot McKnight, Darrell Bock, Edwin Yamauchi, Michael Wilkins and J.P. Moreland are representative of Christian scholars from different denominational/university background who examine in a very objective manner the methodologies to be employed in our present "search for the historical Jesus", the reliability of the New Testament writings, the place and purpose for scholarly conjectures/hypotheses, a survey of non-canonical writings like the Nag Hammadi writings and the Gnostic works, etc.

    The end result is a book that represents for our generation one of the finest defense of the works and words of Jesus as recorded in our Scriptures. It is my prayer that everyone who reads this book will go on from just merely asserting the truth of Jesus' words and works - and go on to study the content of the very same words and works. This will lead you to the truth about the PERSON and TRUTH of the Historical Jesus who is really no different from the Christ of Faith (historic Christianity) - "Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1).



    1 star1 starNo starNo starNo star    Preaching to the choir

    This is a good book to "restore one's faith" i.e. for those who desparately want to hold on the the truth of Christian doctrines fabricated by the Church in aid of Empire. That is the faith of orthodox Christian belief drummed into the heads of "believers" for centuries through institutional power.

    A spiritual practise that requires belief in historic events that happened two thousand years rests on a very weak basis. Historical reconstruction is prone to error ... and much of the received documentation prone to manipulation. No one really knows what happened two thousand years ago .. but if you are desparately wishing to believe it is true no doubt you will be able to find enough "facts" to lull you back to sleep.


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