Daily Archives: 2013-03-14 21:53:18 UTC

Scholars Rationalizing and Paraphrasing the Christian Myth

keenerandbookCraig S. Keener has written a book 869 pages long entitled The Historical Jesus of the Gospels. The primary aim of this book is

to investigate how much we can know from the best sources available, and to offer examples of how these sources provide us more adequate information about Jesus than many scholars think we have. (p. xxxvii)

869 pages might sound a lot, and it does beat by a whisker the longest book by N.T. Wright (836 pages), but it still falls short of Volume 1 of Raymond Brown’s tome, The Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave (904 pages). (The only mythicist publication that comes close gets no closer than 814 pages so I guess the historicists have at least 55 pages of more arguments to make than the mythicists.)

The length of the book is a plus in eyes, because I like the thought that I am getting a thorough and detailed set of arguments and updates on what the academic community has to tell us what can be known about the historical Jesus. The main text is only 349 pages with most of the remainder being taken up with appendices and endnotes. That’s good — I often find the details I’m seeking in endnotes, bibliographies, etc. I think, too, that I was attracted by the erstwhile atheism of the author. Surely here is a work that will cover the basics and leave no stone unturned in the argument for Christianity beginning with a man called Jesus.

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A profile of an historical Jesus scholar

Craig Keener introduces himself:

I try to do my historical scholarship as a good historian. . . .

When I was an atheist (largely for what I thought were scientific reasons), one of my central (albeit nonscientific) objections to believing anything about Jesus was that eighty percent of people in my country claimed to be his followers, yet most of them apparently lived as if it made no difference to their lives. . . .

I reasoned that if I believed there was truly a being to whom I owed my existence and who alone determined my eternal destiny, I would serve that being unreservedly. . . .

On a personal note, I cannot agree with a mind-set like that. It sounds robotic. I would first want to know something about such a being. Prima facie, from what I know of the world, I would suspect such a being was not worthy of unreserved service and it would be immoral to sell my soul to that being.

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A Jesus scholar who believes Jesus is still alive today read more »