Monday, December 11, 2017

Books read in 2017: No. 44 -- Searching for Jesus

by Robert J. Hutchinson

Started: Dec. 4
Finished: Dec. 10

Notes: Tis the season, so why not? My understanding is this book is sort of a Christian apologist's answer to the secular, skeptical study of the Bible from the last couple of centuries, sometimes popularized today by the writings of such authors as Bart Ehrman. I've had some concerns about these secular studies myself, usually more from a historical than a theological point of view, so I'll be interested to see what is presented here.

Mini review: I admit to some concern at first because the author showed some Christian glee early on, but I have to say he soon settled into a fairly objective viewpoint. This book would be a decent starting point for the layman interested in critical Biblical textual studies as well as pointing the way towards archaeological studies of Judaism and early Christianity. That being said, the author truly does not urge the reader towards any definite conclusions, though he obviously mentions his own Christianity. The footnotes here are quite extensive, drawing upon secular and religious professionals across the last couple of hundreds years as well as many historical figures going back to ancient times. The writing style is pretty good, straightforward without being too friendly but also not being overly pedantic, and without being boring. Whether or not this book will have an influence upon textual studies of the Bible is yet to be seen (as the book itself was just published in 2015), but there seems to be a number of modern scholars who are already critical of the critics, if that makes sense, and no small number of these scholars are not Christian, but sometimes Jewish and often enough secular, sometimes even agnostic or atheistic. And since I mentioned Ehrman above, he is mentioned and quoted fairly often in this book, presenting his various opinions. If one is seeking some sort of final word on Jesus, especially concerning his divinity, it's not to be found here, but as the author himself might say, "It's not to be found anywhere. At least not yet."

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