Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lord or Legend?--an interesting read

I just finished reading Lord Or Legend? Wrestling with the Jesus Dilemma, by Gregory Boyd and Paul Rhodes Eddy.

So...my thoughts?

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It is aimed at the relatively recent theory that Jesus never existed as an historic person, but instead is a compilation of 1st century myths. I first encountered this idea in the past year after reading The Jesus Puzzle ,by Earl Doherty, and responded with a couple of posts about it before abandoning my attempt in the face of daily life; something that happens frequently to me.

Right before Christmas I got into a conversation with Lifewish that meandered its way through about a million different ideas, some of which came to bear on the general reliability of the Gospels and the Bible as a whole. I had asked for this book by that time and was happy to receive it and reexamine some of the things that I had suspended because of a busy schedule.

I enjoyed the book and thought it did a fairly good job in addressing some of the more pertinent issues about the legendary Jesus theory. Very frequently, I wanted more detail than what was offered. There are copious amounts of end notes, which are great if you want to research some of the book's claims yourself. I might be interested in tracking down the more academic version of the book later. Boyd and Eddy had a more general purpose for this version. To quote from the book's intro:

...we have written this book for the interested layperson and have thus attempted to keep it as brief and as readable as possible without overly compromising the quality of the scholarship. If some readers desire to explore certain issues raised here in a more thorough manner, we encourage them to consult our more academic (and much longer!) co-authored book, The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition.

I'll have to check the library, or Amazon for that.

Some of the arguments Boyd and Eddy make are more convincing than others, and some would be flatly rejected by true skeptics, but the overall scope of the book would definitely be an encouragement to believers who are questioning the basic historicity of the Gospels. It does require some familiarity with New Testament issues and scholars, so it might not be the perfect read for someone who is just dipping their toe in the waters of scholarly criticism. It would be a 201 level course, instead of a more introductory 101 level.

I hope to write about a few of the more interesting points the authors make over the next few weeks.....she says knowing she may never be able to get to it!

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