Books & Bibliography and Verdict of History
Craig S. Keener (Baker Academic: Nov 1, 2011), 928 pages.
Most modern prejudice against biblical miracle reports depends on David Hume's argument that uniform human experience precluded miracles. Yet current research shows that human experience is far from uniform. In fact, hundreds of millions of people today claim to have experienced miracles. New Testament scholar Craig Keener argues that it is time to rethink Hume's argument in light of the contemporary evidence available to us. This wide-ranging and meticulously researched two-volume study presents the most thorough current defense of the credibility of the miracle reports in the Gospels and Acts. Drawing on claims from a range of global cultures and taking a multidisciplinary approach to the topic, Keener suggests that many miracle accounts throughout history and from contemporary times are best explained as genuine divine acts, lending credence to the biblical miracle reports. ~ Book Description
John Dickson (Zondervan: Dec 14, 2010), 128 pages.
Uniquely among the world's religions, the central claims of Christianity concern not just timeless spiritual truths, but tangible historical events. At the heart of the of the Christian faith are things that are meant to have happened in Palestine between 5 BC and AD 30. It's as if Christianity happily places its head on the chopping block of public scrutiny and invites anyone who wants to come and take a swing. Some of Christianity's claims are so spectacular that they provoke a firestorm of questions, scrutiny, debate, and misinformation whenever they are discussed. The popularity of The Da Vinci Code and the frequent airing of TV documentaries delving into the darker uncertainties of Christianity show that such skepticism flourishes in the Western world today. In The Christ Files you will learn how historians know what they know about Jesus. Historian John Dickson embraces the need to examine Christianity's claims in the light of history, opening readers to a wealth of ancient sources and explaining how mainstream scholars — whether or not they claim Christian faith personally — reach their conclusions. Christianity arrived on the historical scene at a time of great literary activity. While many texts penned by ancient philosophers, historians, poets, and playwrights can reliably inform us about Jesus himself and about the culture in which he lived, others are not so credible. Dickson skillfully highlights both types of sources along with the historical methods used to study Christianity's claims. He also shows how historians asses the reliability of available data, and provides an honest but informed perspective on where historical issues are clear-cut and where personal faith comes into play. The Christ Files is a must-read for those looking to expand their understanding of early Christianity and the life of Jesus. ~ Book Description
Michael R. Licona (InterVarsity Press: Oct 2010), 720 pages.
The question of the historicity of Jesus' resurrection has been repeatedly probed, investigated and debated. And the results have varied widely. Perhaps some now regard this issue as the burned-over district of New Testament scholarship. Could there be any new and promising approach to this problem? Yes, answers Michael Licona. And he convincingly points us to a significant deficiency in approaching this question: our historiographical orientation and practice. So he opens this study with an extensive consideration of historiography and the particular problem of investigating claims of miracles. This alone is a valuable contribution. But then Licona carefully applies his principles and methods to the question of Jesus' resurrection. In addition to determining and working from the most reliable sources and bedrock historical evidence, Licona critically weighs other prominent hypotheses. His own argument is a challenging and closely argued case for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. Any future approaches to dealing with this "prize puzzle" of New Testament study will need to be routed through The Resurrection of Jesus. ~ Synopsis
John Dickson (Lion UK: Jul 9, 2010), 176 pages.
An in-depth investigation into the history of Jesus, from his early beginnings to how he was viewed in the Enlightenment, the 20th Century, and beyond. In this lovely full-color book, the question of how much anyone can really know about Jesus of Nazareth is addressed. From the Gospels to the word of modern-day theologians to historical record, all accounts are examined in minute detail in attempt to uncover the truth. By reviewing ancient evidence, interviewing leading experts, and setting out a robust historical method, the reliability or unreliability of different sources, interpretations, and arguments is clearly established. Christianity prides itself on being a historical religion. Here this pride is subjected to a very close scrutiny and it is shown both how vital this is and yet how different Jesus was from the way he is so often portrayed today. ~ Book Description
Craig S. Keener (Eerdmans: Nov 15, 2009), 876 pages.
The earliest substantive sources available for historical Jesus research are in the Gospels themselves; when interpreted in their early Jewish setting, their picture of Jesus is more coherent and plausible than are the competing theories offered by many modern scholars. So argues Craig Keener in The Historical Jesus of the Gospels. In exploring the depth and riches of the material found in the Synoptic Gospels, Keener shows how many works on the historical Jesus emphasize just one aspect of the Jesus tradition against others, but a much wider range of material in the Jesus tradition makes sense in an ancient Jewish setting. Keener masterfully uses a broad range of evidence from the early Jesus traditions and early Judaism to reconstruct a fuller portrait of the Jesus who lived in history. ~ Book Description
Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, eds. (B&H Publishing: Aug 2009), 304 pages.
Contending with Christianity’s Critics is book two in a series on modern Christian apologetics that began with the popular Passionate Conviction. This second installment, featuring writings from eighteen respected apologists such as Gary Habermas and Ben Witherington, addresses challenges from noted New Atheists like Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) and other contemporary critics of Christianity concerning belief in God, the historical Jesus, and Christianity’s doctrinal coherence. Contending with Christianity's Critics and Passionate Conviction are the result of national apologetics conferences sponsored by the Evangelical Philosophical Society.
Craig Blomberg (IVP Academic: Jan 30, 2008), 416 pages.
For over twenty years, Craig Blomberg's The Historical Reliability of the Gospels has provided a useful antidote to many of the toxic effects of skeptical criticism of the Gospels. Offering a calm, balanced overview of the history of Gospel criticism, especially that of the late twentieth century, Blomberg introduces readers to the methods employed by New Testament scholars and shows both the values and limits of those methods. He then delves more deeply into the question of miracles, Synoptic discrepancies and the differences between the Synoptics and John. After an assessment of noncanonical Jesus tradition, he addresses issues of historical method directly. This new edition has been thoroughly updated in light of new developments with numerous additions to the footnotes and two added appendixes. Readers will find that over the past twenty years, the case for the historical trustworthiness of the Gospels has grown vastly stronger.
F.F. Bruce (Eerdmans: May 1, 2003)
This book is a fantastic guide for any person, Christian or otherwise, who would like to understand the level of historical accuracy that can be found in the New Testament documents. In that Christianity is a religion whose truth claims are allegedly rooted in historical fact, it is key that the works through which we read of those "facts" be considered reliable. Bruce does a great job of doing just that. No historical account, regardless of reliability, can prove miraculous events. However, Bruce argues, if a work can be proven to be historically and culturally accurate with respect to most of its content, that document then becomes-on the whole-more compelling. Any historian would then need to take more seriously the author's questionable claims such as the miracles, and Christ as God and savior of humanity. For if an author can be shown to be reliable in all other aspects of his work, why should he lie with respect to the documentation of miracles? This line of reasoning, and many other arguments, make Bruce's short book a compelling read for anybody interested in this topic. ~ guy-72 at Amazon.com
Albert Schweitzer, W. Montgomery (Dover: Feb 11, 2005), 416 pages.
This book is a turning point in the history of Jesus studies. Schweitzer demonstrates how previous research was really an (unwitting) attempt by liberal and rationalist theologians to proof-text a Jesus who would embarrass orthodox Protestantism and serve as a figurehead for liberal ("Fatherhood of God, Brotherhood of Man") Christianity. Schweitzer showed how each historical reconstruction of Jesus uncannily matched the beliefs and agenda of the scholar in question. But Schweitzer knew the Christ of orthodoxy was not the historical Jesus either. One could only discover the latter by being willing to find the unexpected, and Schweitzer thought he found a Jesus who was a prophet of the end of the world, who expected to judge the earth as the Son of Man, and who died tragically mistaken. Even so, he still serves as a beacon of spiritual force for the ages. As does Schweitzer's great book! ~ Robert M. Price
Lee Strobel (Zondervan: Sep 1, 1998), 304 pages.
The Case for Christ records Lee Strobel's attempt to "determine if there's credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God." The book consists primarily of interviews between Strobel (a former legal editor at the Chicago Tribune) and biblical scholars such as Bruce Metzger. Each interview is based on a simple question, concerning historical evidence (for example, "Can the Biographies of Jesus Be Trusted?"), scientific evidence, ("Does Archaeology Confirm or Contradict Jesus' Biographies?"), and "psychiatric evidence" ("Was Jesus Crazy When He Claimed to Be the Son of God?"). Together, these interviews compose a case brief defending Jesus' divinity, and urging readers to reach a verdict of their own. ~ Amazon.com