What do I think of Tom Gilson’s book published by DeWard Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Sometimes we hear some news and we think it would be wonderful, but then we conclude that it is too good to be true. Rarely do we ever consider the opposite. What if something was too good to be false? What if Jesus was just someone like that?
Tom Gilson has an interesting hypothesis that not much has been done with in history, but I think needs some serious looking at. In it, he points out that the character of Jesus is really one unlike anyone else in history either fictional or non-fictional. There are some people that could come close, but we realize many of their faults and failures and they themselves do.
Jesus is someone who shows up and never asks for advice, never claims to be learning something new from a dialogue, seems to know everything that is going on, never apologizes for anything, never relies on anyone else for any claim that He makes, etc. Now if you take anyone who is like that on paper you would consider them insufferable to be around and you would not want to be around them. However, Jesus is not like that. Many people who read the Gospels love the figure of Jesus. They think He’s incredible. Bart Ehrman in his latest book refers to Jesus as one of the three great figures He wants to meet.
Not only that, but Jesus is also claiming to be God incarnate in the Gospels and yet still, we don’t see Him acting in such a way that we might expect. We don’t see Him raining down judgment or acting aloof to the culture. We still see attributes that are remarkably human.
This is Gilson’s fascinating hypothesis. If Jesus did not exist as presented in the Gospels, we should be seeking to meet the people who created Him because they are the greatest geniuses of all time. How is it also that if the skeptics are right, all these stories changed drastically over time, but they came together to show this figure of remarkable insight and character that is unparalleled in all of fiction and history? Note the inclusion of fiction in there. No one has created a figure like Jesus. Possibly the closest is Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia, but perhaps he is also given limited time for just that figure. If Lewis had to write a whole story where Aslan is acting on most every page, I suspect it would be impossible for even him.
If we could not create this figure, then there is only one conclusion. We did not create Him. Jesus is real. Not only is He real, we need to hold Him in the proper awe He deserves. We have become so familiar with the figure of Jesus that we haven’t considered just how shocking He is.
Gilson’s thesis is an amazing one and I hope to see more engagement with it. It would be incredible to see what someone like Bart Ehrman would say to it. I hope it gets out in the world of academia all the more.
One thing I would like to see added for future editions of the book if they come is that the idea is fascinating, but I would like to see something on how to present it in a debate. Perhaps it could even be a mock written debate that has been set up. How would Gilson use this in evangelism and how would he suggest that I use it? If we use it, how should we use other arguments alongside it, such as arguments about the resurrection and the dating and veracity of the Gospels?
This is a book to be taken seriously by Christian and skeptic alike. I look forward to seeing more that comes out concerning it.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)