First-thoughts on Review of “Existential Jesus”

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by Neil Godfrey

Disappointed in the Australian review of Carroll’s Existential Jesus. Have tried to track down a little on the reviewer, Andrew Rutherford, and closest I can find is that he’s “a Melbourne based reviewer”. His review does not demonstrate deep awareness of the issues involved. He says, for example, that Crossan has “shown” how a Galilean peasant like Jesus might become the focus of a religion. Well, Crossan has certainly attempted to show as much (that his Jesus is a fellow Irish freedom-advocate), but only from the basis of so many questionable assumptions and being content to leave so many inevitable questions unaddressed — check out Doherty’s review for starters. Rutherford’s review seems to be saying little more than Carroll is up the creek because he does not conform to respectable scholarly questions and established scholarly conclusions.

I have still to read the book, but pending its arrival I have to confess to some parting of ways at John Carroll’s own commentary. It goes further than the impressions I was left with over his Religion Report interview. I can handle Mark as an historical and literary document, but I feel less comfortable with seekers of “truths” behind human existence. I find nothing fearful at all, and everything richly meaningful, in base biological and physical explanations for everything. That, to me, is the only foundation of human cooperation that I can see holding when all else has failed, as fearful dreaming and searching for other “Truths Out There” always will.

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