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Las Vegas, NV
5 Stars Out Of 5
February 24, 2011
Las Vegas, NV
If you want a great book about the NT background, this is a must for you! Dr. Barnes takes us from the OT's spread of Hellenism worldwide, passing through the Maccabean period preparing our minds for the coming of the Messiah and goes through Jesus' life and ministry, to the early church and its expansion by the Holy Spirit through the apostles and evangelists.
This book is a well-annotated argument for the proposition that the "'Christ of faith [is] one and the same as the 'Jesus of history'". This proposition is stated upfront by the author in his Preface. Obviously, it guides both his exposition of historical sources and the inferences which he draws from them.The book, however, is to be read with care, and a critical eye to alternative conclusions.For example, the author, discussing the purported Davidic lineage of Jesus, cites John 7:40-42 to support the inference that "the writer [John] knows ... that Christ was born in Bethlehem." (p.40, hardcover edition). The conclusion is plainly tendentious. It could as well be that some of the people who are discussing the issue among themselves know that Jesus was born in Nazareth, not Bethlehem, and so, to them, he cannot be the Christ. As the author notes: "This is the sole reference to David in the Fourth Gospel. The Christ defined by Davidic descent does not engage this writer [John] as it does Matthew and Luke." (ibid). It may be simply that John is reporting a debate overheard by himself or his source. Likewise, the author fails to note that the famous riddle in Mark 12:35-37 (Matthew 22:42-45; Luke 20:41-44), which I also accept as historically genuine, could be read as Jesus' own repudiation of the idea that the Christ is of the Davidic line. Nevertheless, for those who are serious about a critical analysis of the link between the historical Jesus and the Jesus of faith, the book is worth reading as a strong challenge to current fashions in skepticism, and a primer in advanced reasoning from historical sources.