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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"40 Questions About the Historical Jesus" (C. Marvin Pate)

TITLE: 40 Questions About the Historical Jesus (40 Questions and Answers Series) (40 Questions & Answers Series)
AUTHOR: C. Marvin Pate
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2015, (408 pages).

Who is Jesus in history? What events inspired the first, second, and third quests for the historical Jesus? What were the scholars trying to prove? What about the non-biblical sources and the oral traditions? How do we make sense of the apocryphal gospels? Why should we learn anything about the historical Jesus in the first place? What is the significance of the study? Isn't the Bible sufficient? These questions are part of the 40 questions dealt with in this fascinating overview of the "Historical Jesus." Briefly, the book is demarcated into four major sections.
  1. Background Questions about the "Historical" Jesus (11 questions)
  2. Questions about Jesus' Birth and Childhood (8 questions)
  3. Questions about Jesus' Life and Teaching (13 questions)
  4. Questions about Jesus' Crucifixion and Resurrection (8 questions)

Part One sets the tone and gives readers the background material needed to understand the big fascination over the quests and what drove the researchers to it. It tells us the stakes with regard to the four gospels. It affirms about the reliability of the four gospels, the possible existence of other gospels, and the errors of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. It addresses with evidence and analysis of the trustworthiness of the Bible in spite of accusations of internal contradictions and historical errors. Noting the development of scholastic perspectives such as higher critical approaches (Form criticism; Redaction Criticism; Source Criticism), Pate believes that the gospels themselves will build a sufficient defense against the modern criticisms. Plus, the historical quests are not without their flaws. The first quest failed because the very quest itself is overly existentialist, without historical underpinnings. The second quest fell along the same path and failed to address the reasons why Jesus was crucified. The third quest also misses the point of the Gospels: Which is about Jesus Christ and not about peripheral matters (conservatism, liberalism, or cultural expressions) about Christ. We learn about the three major views about Jesus in the recent two centuries. On sources, Pate guides us through the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, the Oral Tradition; the Archaelogical findings; and so on.

Part Two deals with questions about Jesus' birth and childhood. It probes into the birthdates, the virgin birth, the prophecy of Jesus in the Old Testament, Jesus' family, the miracles, and even the languages used at that time. Part Three is about the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. We learn about the significance of Jesus' baptism, the temptations, the way Jesus chose the 12 disciples, the miracles, and so on. It is wonderful also to read about the specific narratives of each gospel writer. One chapter is allocated to each of the four gospels. Part Four deals with the arrest, the crucifixion, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus. One particular question of interest is the part on 1 Peter 3:18-20 which describes the Spirit of Jesus preaching to the spirits in prison. Pate brings out the various scholastic opinions and gives his take on them.

This book is a wonderful resource to have with regard to the studies about the historical Jesus. The question and answer style enables readers to pick and choose according to the question that interests them most. There is no need to read the book from cover to cover, though that is still a good guideline to follow. Having said that, the most important thing is to let the book pique our curiosity. There are many questions that we have not even thought about asking and Pate asks them on our behalf, that we too may learn from them. This book can also be used in Bible teaching seminars, classes, even Bible studies. C. Marvin Pate is Professor of Biblical Studies at Quachita Baptist University. He has authored many books. With this guide, we are rest assured that we have a reliable, biblically sound, and clear answers to some of the most pressing questions surrounding the historicity of Jesus.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Kregel Academic in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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