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Friday, April 09, 2010

Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened - a Book Review

This book contains three essays that were originally delivered in lecture form at the "Symposium for Church and Academy", held at Crichton College. The first two lectures, on Jesus' Crucifixion and Burial respectively, were given by Craig A. Evans, while the last one, on Jesus' Resurrection, was given by N. T. Wright. They offer a New Perspective reading of the three events, though in a rather compact form, as each essay is the written equivalent of only one lecture. In spite of their brevity, there is much good material here. The essays are really designed for those, however, who haven't encountered a New Perspective approach to these matters. Those who have read much of what, say, Wright has written, will probably not find anything earth-shaking here. Wright's essay, in fact, is simply an abbreviated form of his book Surprised by Hope, itself an abbreviated form of his book The Resurrection of the Son of God.

And while there is much good material here, I can't help but have one major qualm, and that has to do with the authors' general approach to Scripture. These essays, as much of the authors' other works do, have a particularly apologetic quality about them. They are seeking to defend the Scripture's testimony regarding the events of Jesus' trial, death, burial, and resurrection, of which they do a very good job. And yet, in so doing, they seem to me to give up the ship. The major problem, it seems to me, is that they both begin by granting to the skeptic the possibility that Scripture's report of the facts may not actually be true, thereby compromising it as the inerrant Word of God. Both scholars, within the context of their respective essays, affirm the possibility of errors within the text of Scripture itself. Now I appreciate the work both men have done in interacting with more liberal scholars, in an attempt to recover a reliable view of God's Word. But if we can't hold to the view that all of the Bible is without error, then we are tearing the foundation out from under the building we're seeking to construct. For this reason, I couldn't recommend this book to the average reader. For someone who is well-versed in Scripture, as well as historic and systematic theology, this might be a helpful read. But the average reader would do better to turn their attention toward some of the apologetic works produced by more Evangelical and Reformed scholars.

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