Book: The Historical Evidence for Jesus

Book review:

In this thoroughly researched study, G.A.Wells has squarely faced the question of whether a man named Jesus lived, preached, healed, and died in Palestine during the early years of the first century of the Christian era – or indeed, at any time. Building on the biblical studies of Christian theologians, Dr.Wells soberly demonstrates that we have no reliable eyewitnesses to the events depicted in the New Testament. He publicizes a fact known to theological scholars but little-known in the average Christian congregation: that the order of books of the New Testament is not an accurate chronological arrangement. Indeed, Paul, who never saw Jesus, wrote his epistles to early Christian congregations before the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John were written. It may come as a great surprise to Christians and other monotheists, to agnostics, atheists, and humanists alike, that ‘the earliest references to the historical Jesus are so vague that it is not necessary to hold that he ever existed; the rise of Christianity can, from the undoubtedly historical antecedents, be explained quite well without him; and reasons can be given to show why, from about A.D. 80 or 90, Christians began to suppose that he had lived in Palestine about fifty years earlier’. “The Historical Evidence for Jesus” is not a frontal attack on Christians per se; rather it is an easily understood but scholarly examination of the evidence for many long-accepted notions about the ‘biography’ of the man called Jesus. This book takes up and quotes extensively from the Epistles and the Gospels of the New Testament, thus letting the evidence speak for itself in words familiar to every Bible reader. For example, Wells closely compares what Paul said about Jesus with what the author of Matthew, who lived later, wrote of him. Then he explains why these discrepancies apparently exist. Startling indeed is his proof that ‘earlier writers sometimes make statements which positively exclude the idea that Jesus worked miracles, delivered certain teachings, or suffered under Pilate’. There is also interesting material on the topics of Jesus’ supposed family, the so-called Shroud of Turin, and the myth-making that even today surrounds the figure of Jesus. Dr.Wells does not, however, attempt to demolish belief in God or the ethical precepts held by Christians. His presentation is always fair and couched in moderate tones.

Either George Albert Wells is digging deeper and deeper into the historical evidence (or lack thereof) and its implications, or he’s writing up the same material for different audiences.

Wells, the author o also wrote

There’s a progression of thought here,

Posted in books. Tags: . 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Book: The Historical Evidence for Jesus

  1. Eamon Knight Says:

    OTOH, I recently heard this atheist speak on the authorship of the Gospels, and he thinks that there was a historical person at the bottom of the mythology, and the pure-mythicists are doing “pseudo-scholarship”.

    Since I really don’t understand enough of the basics of this kind of historical inquiry to judge the respective arguments, I’m proclaiming myself agnostic on the question. Given that either way, there was no god-man running around Roman Palestine doing miracles and rising from the dead, it seems a rather academic point anyway.

  2. monado Says:

    I’m an agnostic on that, too. The interesting thing for me is that for the first 30 years or so of my life I never heard a hint from mainstream media that there was any doubt about the existence of a historical Jesus. Culturally, it’s a sacred cow that they tippy-toed around. Now it’s at least talked about. The fact that the oldest gospels don’t talk about a person at all and that all the biographical details came later, is highly suggestive.

    However, I’ve read that the hills were full of self-proclaimed messiahs in those days, mostly hoping to break away from the Roman empire.

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