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1 Stars Out Of 5
October 10, 2015
this study touches upon various aspects of the historical, literary and archaeological "evidence" for Jesus. France looks at the relevant Jewish, Greco-Roman, New Testament and apocryphal writings for what they may or may not be credibly thought to contribute to our "knowledge" of Jesus. France does a very sober and credible job of dealing with the Jewish and Greco-Roman writings, ultimately arriving at the conclusion that they really don't give us much solid evidence at all. HIs conclusion is pretty much the same when it comes to the apocryphal writings as well. when it comes to the New Testament gospel writings, he more or less makes a conservative case for their historicity and reliability. it is here that I was disappointed in this book. granted, this book is not meant to be a large scale study, but the failure of France to really elucidate for the reader the nature of the gospel writings as possibly fictive from and within a Hellenistic milieu, is in this reviewers opinion, a massive failure. while France takes a look at many aspects of the gospel writings, and very briefly at that, he simply doesn't deal hardly at all with the many ways the gospel writings smack of Hellenistic literary legends and tale telling. whatever one thinks of this subject, it is an important subject to wrestle with when it comes to trying to figure out what can or cannot be reasonably "known" about the "historical" Jesus. This book largely fails in this aspect as far as I'm concerned. France also takes a brief look at some archaeological aspects of 1st century "evidence", but this too I found to be lacking, as the things France looks at really don't shed much light on what really can or cannot be known about Jesus in any significant way.
take a look instead at :
Charles Talbert's What is a Gospel
David Litwa's Iesus Deus
Robert Grant's Historical Introduction to the New Testament
Amos Wilder's Early Christian Rhetoric
Pheme Perkins Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels
this book by France is excellent. what I enjoyed most about it is his quite objective approach to whether something is really evidence or not. He just doesn't grab hold of any and everything possible but submits each piece to scrutiny so that at the end what you have to work with is almost refutable. In other words, he weeds out weak evidence from strong evidence. His is a very honest and objective approach, yet still designed to give the believer the strongest argumentation for belief in the historicity of the life of Jesus. Though not the most recent of it's type, this book is very beneficial. Recommended.