Subtitled ‘THE CASE FOR AND AGAINST THE RESURRECTION OF THE CHRIST’, this book is exactly that, taking six key subjects and presenting them in a ‘he says; she says’ format, just like a criminal trial would.
- The Death – Opponents claim a range of alternatives (anything but the biblical story) – that he was killed, not killed in a whole bunch of different ways and different reasons. The Synoptic Gospels are found to be pretty solid.
- The Burial – There have been a few suggestions that the whole thing was rigged for show. They were debunked pretty easily as more far-fetched than the biblical take.
- The Empty Tomb – A supernatural explanation can only really follow ruling out natural explanations. Most skepticism is based around differences in witness accounts. Putting the differences into context gives reasonable understanding and makes the supernatural more probable.
- The Post-resurrection Appearances – The essence of the counter arguments come down to ‘historical improbabilities’ and ‘hallucination hypothesis’. The defender acknowledes significant differences but rebuts eloquently.
- Did the Early Church Believe in the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus? – The essence of the skeptic’s arguments comes down to a notable lack of details in the Gospels and one passage from Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. Explanations are simple and logical – put it all into context and the arguments evaporate.
- Where Did the Christians Get Their Idea of Resurrection? – Detractors claim that the idea of the resurrection was imbibed in the cultures of the day. The defender’s conclusion however is worthy of quoting:
The eastern Mediterranean was a mythologically busy place. It loved stories. Many of those stories had religious themes. Some had echoes in or were borrowed from the Christian story. But none of them claimed to be historically true in any sense whatsoever. Christianity does. It says that it is the true, prototypic myth. And the historical case for that assertion is very strong.
I had two attempts at reading the book because the format, while novel and logical if you’re into a legal presentation, made it hard work for me. I prefer to skim something, extract the key points and the big-picture and only drill down to the details if I’m curious, doubtful or particularly interested.
The JESUS INQUEST is not the sort of book that you grab and casually flick through to get the gist of things. You’ve got to engage deeply and wade through all the arguments from one side all the way through, then hear the rebuttals before you can get the big-picture.
I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking to see the arguments for and against the evidence of His resurrection. If you’re not, then the above summary will be helpful.
A consideration on the tale of the two stories; for and against. The a priori assumption of the skeptic is that the Resurrection of Christ is a fabrication, thus appears to clutch at straws, grasping for any possible reason to destroy of attack the Christian message. On the other hand while the role of the defender is to defend, there appears to be a willingness to address the actual issue from a factual perspective, acknowledging areas of doubt, uncertainty or simple lack of knowledge. The defender appears to show openness to engage. Many of my guests at Camp Samoa puzzle at my openness and absence of religiosity. I call it being real. If Christians around the world did this a lot more freely, they would be listened to by others a lot more.
Lastly, this is all a moot point and pretty irrelevant if He’s alive, you’ve met Him and you are in daily communication!