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James McGrath reviews "‘Is This Not the Carpenter?’


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#1 Ken Gilmore

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 05:43 AM

The lunatic fringe view that Jesus of Nazareth never existed still persists, despite the evidence for his historicity being regarded as convincing by the scholarly mainstream. NT scholar James McGrath has done us a favour by reviewing "‘Is This Not the Carpenter?’: The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus", a compilation of essays on the subject edited by Thomas L. Thompson and Thomas S. Verenna. A number of authors, some of whom are NT scholars have contributed papers on the subject, including mythicists such as Robert Price.

Why is there a need to expend time on the fringe view that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist? McGrath notes that:

In certain circles outside of the academy, the view that there was no historical figure of Jesus is surprisingly popular. The volume ‘Is This Not the Carpenter?’: The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus brings together scholarly contributions from a range of fields and with a range of viewpoints on that topic. It includes some good arguments for the historicity of Jesus as well as some good illustrations of what is problematic about the attempt of those outside the relevant fields to dismiss those arguments. (Emphasis mine)

Put simply, sometimes one needs to look at bad arguments made by scholars straying outside their area of competence to realise the value of good scholarship. McGrath's comment on the introduction is a case in point:

The introduction by the editors, Thompson and Verenna, engages in an exercise in parallelomania, which seems to them to allow one to jump from a reference to Jesus being a carpenter to Hephaestus the god of craftsmen to an equation of the two—with this called a conclusion to an “exegetical excursion” with no indication that the authors are joking (7). They go on to claim that “New Testament scholarship has avoided direct questions regarding the historicity of Jesus” (7), a statement that is obviously false. The figure of Jesus has probably been subjected to more skeptical analysis than any other figure in history. Even after such scrutiny, most historians agree on the authenticity of at least some pieces of evidence for him having said and done particular things and having died in a particular way. To suggest that all of the sifting through evidence that has taken place reflects an avoidance of the question of Jesus’ historicity is baffling.

Baffling is somewhat of an understatement. Whether the $110 price is worth it depends on how badly you want to see poor quality arguments in the flesh. For me, I can get that for free on the Internet, but YMMV.

James F. McGrath, review of Thomas L. Thompson and Thomas S. Verenna, eds., ‘Is This Not the Carpenter?’: The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2013).
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” - Galileo Galilei

#2 Fortigurn

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 05:46 AM

I imagine this review will be treated as usual at Vridar.

#3 Ken Gilmore

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 05:49 AM

I imagine this review will be treated as usual at Vridar.

Something like this, no doubt:

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Edited by Ken Gilmore, 20 August 2013 - 05:49 AM.

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” - Galileo Galilei

#4 Evangelion

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 06:41 AM

:popcorn:
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.




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