What do I think of Holding’s book on the Resurrection? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
In the interest of being upfront, I am Holding’s ministry partner.
Defending the Resurrection (DTR) is really a different book from other books you will find on the resurrection. Many books will examine many of the historical details. If you read Licona, you will hear about the eyewitness appearances, the empty tomb, the conversion of Paul, etc. If you read Wright, you will hear about the place of Jesus in the story of Israel.
I think both of these are excellent and absolutely essential.
I’d also round them all off by reading DTR. DTR will not go into the history of Israel. It also will not make many claims about the creed in 1 Cor. 15 or why scholars think that Jesus did in fact appear to eyewitnesses. It’s not that these don’t matter, as DTR does have an extensive chapter on the topic of hallucinations, but that DTR wishes to focus its work on another area altogether.
DTR mainly focuses on the social setting of the NT and why resurrection was so important and why we can indeed believe it happened. It goes into extensive detail of the relationship of Christianity to the Roman Empire with such ideas as tolerance, the rejection of the new, claims of exclusivity, and others.
An interesting one for many readers will be the concept of resurrection itself. Today, we tend to view resurrection as a good thing, provided we have a new body. Who wouldn’t want another go around in life? Yet to the world of the NT, it was a different story.
In that world, the body was a prison to be escaped and you did not want to return to it. This is why so many of the lower class did in fact flock to the mystery religions. Christianity did not even really offer them something that they wanted, which would be another strike against it. It could have easily gone with the docetic heresies that were floating around, and yet it didn’t.
DTR also compares the survival of the Christian religion in comparison to Mormonism, Mithraism, and Muhammad. Readers of Holding will realize that this is pointing back to another work of his, The Impossible Faith, and that only Christianity truly qualifies as an Impossible Faith.
Also, you will find responses here to the internet theories that you won’t find responses to in many other books. What about the idea for instance of Cavin that Jesus had an identical twin show up who acted like he was the resurrected Lord? Most don’t take that one seriously for a reason, but DTR doesn’t want to leave you unprepared and will give you what you need to know in order to meet the objections that you will normally find on the internet.
In conclusion, I do recommend this book, though I recommend you read works like Licona and Wright first to get the case entirely there and then get this one to answer the objections that come up afterwards. DTR will be a valuable reference in any library for dealing with those.