Book Plunge: Jesus, Skepticism, and the Problem of History

What do I think of Darrell Bock and Ed Komoszewski’s book published by Zondervan?

This book is largely a response to Chris Keith and Anthony Le Donne’s book Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity. The editors have put together a fine team of scholars to write various chapters illustrating that the criteria do still work. In the end, there are also three responses from those who can be critical looking at what was said.

For those not aware, the debate largely centers around checking various criteria to see if we can know if the historical Jesus did and said certain things or didn’t do and say certain things. These have been debated various times, but for the most part what we have is generally accepted with some qualifications. If anything, it really seems to come down to worldview a lot of the times.

A number of the essays in here provided some interesting viewpoints. I don’t know if I agree with Beth Sheppard on Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount in a theater, but her other insights on the culture and Jesus is excellent. Who would have thought that the Roman guard getting a sponge with wine for Jesus when He was crucified would also be an insult along the lines of toilet humor?

I appreciated also Paul Anderson’s essay on the Gospel of John. This is a Gospel that has sadly been neglected, and yet there is much in there that is supportable by new evidence that has come forth from the Dead Sea Scrolls and archaeology. However, I don’t think the Gospel of John will spark the fourth quest for the historical Jesus. If anything, I think the fourth quest should be involving a look not just at the Jewishness of Jesus, but also at the honor-shame culture that Jesus lived in.

Also, everyone who is familiar with New Testament studies will find something they like in here and also someone that they like in here. You can find Blomberg, Wallace, Licona, Bird, Keener, Evans, and several others contributing to this volume. You will have topics covered like the burial of Jesus, the resurrection, and the book of Acts.

The responses are also interesting. Scot McKnight’s was probably the most engaging and the one that I am thinking about the most. McKnight argues that the problem is not the methods but the results and that the premise of historical Jesus scholarship is to find the real Jesus instead of the one that is presented in Christianity. I wonder if this is really the case.

After all, if two people are doing the same methodology and reach different conclusions, either wrong data was used or someone made a mistake or some combination thereof. If we are doing history right, will we not find the Christ of Christianity if Christianity is true? It’s the same approach I take to science in that if Christianity is true, science can never contradict it.

At any rate, this volume is definitely a great defense of using the criteria in historical methodology to demonstrate several facts about the historical Jesus to be likely true. Even if you are not interested in that debate, the reader will gain much knowledge on other areas reading this. I highly recommend this volume for those interested in historical Jesus studies.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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