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Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus Vol. 4.2 pp. 225-229 DOI: 10.

1177/1476869006065760 2006 SAGE Publications London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi http://JSHJ.sagepub.com

BOOK LIST

Books on the Historical Jesus


LDEMANN, Gerd, The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2004), hb, 248 pp. ISBN 1591022452. $26.00. This volume reects developments in Ldemanns thinking beyond his 1994 volume, The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology. In the earlier volume he argued that the resurrection was not historical, but Christian faith could still be based exclusively on the historical Jesus. In this latest volume Ldemann concludes that the non-historicity of the resurrection ultimately annuls the Christian heritage as error (pp. 7-8). The volume begins with an analysis of both canonical and extra-canonical early Christian texts on Jesus resurrection (in a less technical manner than his earlier work). Ldemann concludes that the appearance traditions and the empty-tomb traditions have nothing in common. Some of the appearance traditions are the result of visionary experiences by the disciples, but the location of these original visions of the resurrected Jesus were in Galilee, not Jerusalem. Ldemann then traces the origins of the self-deception (p. 153) of the early Christian belief in Jesus resurrection to the visions of Jesus in heaven by Peter and later Paul. This developed into the belief of the resurrection. Ldemann concludes by asking, Can we still be Christians, despite the non-resurrection of Jesus? After surveying and critiquing the variety of explanations that would answer this question with a Yes response, Ldemann concludes No. There is little new here with reference to arguments concerning the non-historicity of the resurrection, but the theological implications that Ldemann reaches provide an interesting challenge. It is unfortunate that the work shows little substantive interaction with N.T. Wrights work on this subject. RLW

MONTEFIORE, Hugh, The Miracles of Jesus (London: SPCK, 2005), pb, 120 pp. ISBN 0281057052. 8.99. This brief volume, written at a non-technical level, examines certain of the Gospels miracle stories and seeks to provide an explanation for them, not in terms of miracle or mythical story, but rather in terms of paranormal phenomena and parapsychology. By comparing modern evidence of the paranormal, Monteore suggests these as explanations for Jesus miracles. In particular, Monteore proposes that many of Jesus miracles can be explained in terms of

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parapsychological phenomena such as telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition. The transformation can be explained by the paranormal phenomenon of luminosity; the feeding of the ve thousand can be attributed to the appearance of objects out of nothing; the walking on the water can be explained as the ability of bilocation; Elijah returning as John the Baptist is an example of reincarnation; Jesus healings can be explained as a result of his psychosomatic powers; and Jesus resurrection appearances are examples of veridical hallucinations, that is, truthful representations of his spiritual presence in a visual form (pp. 109-10). These are intriguing proposals, and the introduction to some of the literature concerning the paranormal is helpful. But the proposals falter due to the fallacy that because an explanation is hypothetically possible, it is the correct explanation. RLW

PRICE, Robert M., and Jeffery Jay LOWDER (eds.), The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2005), hb, 545 pp. ISBN 159102286X. $30.00. This volume is a collection of essays (most were published earlier; some appear here in revised form) on the subject of Jesus resurrection. In particular the collection is intended to counter the claims made by Christian apologists, William Lane Craig and Richard Swinburne in particular. The essays include Robert M. Price, Introduction: The Second Life of Jesus; Robert Greg Cavin, Is There Sufcient Historical Evidence to Establish the Resurrection of Jesus?; Michael Martin, The Resurrection as Initially Improbable; Theodore M. Drange, Why Resurrect Jesus?; Robert M. Price, Apocryphal Apparitions: 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 as a Post-Pauline Interpolation; Richard C. Carrier, The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb; Peter Kirby, The Case Against the Empty Tomb; Jeffrey Jay Lowder, Historical Evidence and the Empty Tomb Story: A Reply to William Lane Craig; Evan Fales, Taming the Tehom: The Sign of Jonah in Matthew; Richard C. Carrier, The Plausibility of Theft; Richard C. Carrier, The Burial of Jesus in Light of Jewish Law; J. Duncan M. Derrett, Financial Aspects of the Resurrection; Robert M. Price, By This Time He Stinketh: The Attempts of William Lane Craig to Exhume Jesus; Keith Parsons, Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli on the Hallucination Theory; Michael Martin, Swinburne on the Resurrection; and Evan Fales, Reformed Epistemology and Biblical Hermeneutics. Whatever ones position on this controversial subject, it is helpful to have these essays collected together for convenient use. The one drawback is that the recent work of N. T. Wright on this subject is not a signicant conversation partner in any essay except one. RLW

Books on Subjects Related to the Historical Jesus


BOCK, Darrell, L., and Gregory J. HERRICK (eds.), Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), pb, 286 pp. ISBN 0801027195. $22.99. This volume brings together a signicant array of readings from extra-canonical texts that are relevant to the study of the historical Jesus and the Gospels. The texts themselves are those that

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had been cited in Bocks earlier work, Jesus according to Scripture (2002). This volume can, however, be used without direct reference to the earlier work because it is organized according to the canonical texts for which the quoted extra-canonical texts provide contextual information. Thus, for example, the bulk of the volume follows the storyline of the synoptic Gospels beginning with the birth narratives and ending with the passion week, and a separate section addresses texts relevant to the Fourth Gospel. Each unit is attached to a particular pericope, and is introduced by a brief explanation of the potential relevance of the cited extra-canonical texts to the pericope. The translations quoted are for the most part those widely recognized in the academic community. This volume provides a very helpful resource to any who dont have easy access to these ancient sources, and it would make a valuable textbook for students. RLW

MEYER, Marvin, The Unknown Sayings of Jesus (Boston: New Seeds, 2005), pb, xxvii + 177 pp. ISBN 1590302745. $12.95. This is a reprint of Meyers 1998 volume with the same title. It collects together 200 sayings of Jesus found in sources other than the canonical Gospels and the Coptic version of the Gospel of Thomas. These sayings are drawn from Jewish, Christian and Islamic sources. While this is a helpful collection, no comments or explanation are provided for these sayings. The Introduction provides a brief summary of these texts and the use of criteria for authenticity in historical Jesus studies. Clearly addressed to a lay audience, the Introduction concludes with an invitation to the reader to probe these unknown sayings and strive to hear the voice of Jesus still present in these words (p. xxviii). This may unfortunately give the impression that historical Jesus scholars would view all these sayings as authentic. While it contains an interesting collection, the volume contributes little to historical Jesus studies. RLW

REDFORD, John, Bad, Mad or God? Proving the Divinity of Christ from St. Johns Gospel (London: St. Pauls Publishing, 2004), pb, 383 pp. ISBN 0854396942. 17.99. Redford builds a case, beginning with the synoptic Gospels but primarily based on Johns Gospel, that the historical Jesus claimed to be God. The historicity of the resurrection and his appearances to his disciples are proof that his claim is valid. While claiming to concern itself with the historical Jesus, and using historical Jesus terminology (such as the criteria for authenticity), this volume is seriously awed in terms of its historiographic methodology, and it is better considered to be a work of apologetic theology. RLW

ROSKAM, H.N., The Purpose of the Gospel of Mark in Its Historical and Social Context (NovTSup, 114; Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2004), hb, xvi + 286 pp. ISBN 9004140522. 95.00; $129.00.

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This volume explores the origin and purpose of Marks Gospel. In Part One Roskam investigates the situation of Marks readers and concludes that they are experiencing hostility, even persecution, or at least were facing the threat of such. The intended readers are a specic community in Galilee after 70 CE who are being persecuted by Jewish authorities and occasionally handed over to the Romans (p. 139). They were probably viewed as a subversive movement (derived, for example, from the political connotations of their use of the royal title, Christ, and of the crucixion of Jesus). In Part Two Roskam explores how Marks message addressed this situation. In particular Mark wishes to downplay the political implications of the early Christian movement, defending them against being viewed as subversive. In Part Three Roskam considers how Marks Gospel is to be characterized. While best viewed as an example of ancient biography, Marks interest is less biographical (as distinct from Luke, for example), but is rather primarily apologetic, directed to the endangered Christians themselves and meant to conrm them in their faithfulness to the Christian message, so that they will be strong enough to endure the hardships they are experiencing (p. 236). Marks Gospel is an apologetic tract in biographical form (p. 238). This carefully argued volume makes an impressive case, and it should become a standard in Markan studies. RLW

TOMSON, Peter J., Presumed Guilty: How the Jews Were Blamed for the Death of Jesus (trans. Janet Dyk; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005), pb, xiv + 146 pp. ISBN 0800637070. $15.00. This volume is sponsored by the Foundation for Scientic Research on Christian Literature on Jews and Judaism whose aim is to publish works that explore the religious roots of antiSemitism. Written at a level for the educated layperson, the book presents a view of the historical Jesus and his trial in particular. It then traces how misunderstandings in the early church and later Christian theology contributed to the development of anti-Jewish perspectives. This book would be helpful to acquaint laypeople with these important issues. RLW

VANDERKAM, James C., From Joshua to Caiaphas: High Priests after the Exile (Minneapolis: Fortress; Assen, Netherlands: Van Gorcum, 2004), hb, xx + 548 pp. ISBN 0800626176 (Fortress), 902324074X (Van Gorcum). $35.00. This volume traces the history of the post-exilic high priests from the beginnings through the Persian Period, the early Hellenistic Period, the Hasmonean high priests (15237 BCE), to the high priests in the Herodian Period (37 BCE to 70 CE). The discussion in each chapter is extensive, and is made particularly valuable by extensive quotations from ancient sources rather than just referring to them. It is the nal chapter that is of interest to the readers of JSHJ, and particularly the extensive discussion of Caiaphas. This volume makes a valuable contribution to appreciating the history of this period, though it should be noted that the focus of the volume is on this history of the high priests. Issues such as the socio-cultural realities of how they functioned are beyond the parameters of the book. RLW

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WHEALEY, Alice, Josephus on Jesus: The Testimonium Flavianum Controversy from Late Antiquity to Modern Times (Studies in Biblical Literature, 36; New York: Peter Lang, 2003), hb, xviii + 231 pp. ISBN 0820452416. $65.95. This volume does not address so much the question of whether the Testimonium Flavianum is authentic or not, as to trace the history of the use of the tradition (and its various forms) and the history of the debate concerning its authenticity. Whealey traces this history from antiquity through to the middle ages (chs. 12) during which time its authenticity was largely accepted. The controversy arose over its authenticity during the Renaissance (ch. 3), and by the second half of the eighteenth century the controversy was largely over with most scholars concluding that it was not authentic (ch. 4). However, the controversy was revived in the early twentieth century and continues until today (ch. 5). Whealey notes in particular the signicant role played by Jewish scholars on both sides of the issue. This work makes a valuable contribution to scholarship on the Testimonium. RLW RLW = Robert L. Webb