Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels

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Overview

Modern historical study of the Gospels seems to give us a new portrait of Jesus every spring--just in time for Easter. The more unusual the portrait, the more it departs from the traditional view of Jesus, the more attention it gets in the popular media.

Why are scholars so prone to fabricate a new Jesus? Why is the public so eager to accept such claims without question? What methods and assumptions predispose scholars to distort the record? Is there a more sober approach to finding the real Jesus?

Commenting on such recent releases as Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus, James Tabor's The Jesus Dynasty, Michael Baigent's The Jesus Papers and the Gospel of Judas, for which he served as an advisory board member to the National Geographic Society, Craig Evans offers a sane approach to examining the sources for understanding the historical Jesus.

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What People Are Saying

Darrell Bock
"Many recent studies of Jesus are arguing that evidence requires a Jesus redo. Some works are written by well-known academics, whileothers are written by less well-known authors. Enter Craig Evans, who has given his life to the historical study of Jesus. Mincing no words, he calls most ofthese efforts what they are--fabrication. However, his tone is irenic,the style is accessible, his argumentation is sound, and his scope iscomprehensive. This book is a necessary exposé of many recent works,taking us from the hype to the historical Jesus. Eminently qualified, Evans has done us all a great service."
Darrell Bock, Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, and author of The Missing Gospels
Ben Witherington III
"Few scholars are as well positioned, well trained and well informed as Craig Evans to critique the recent spate of books that have hit the stands, touting a new Jesus for a new day. In a scholarly world where almost anything can pass for knowledge of the historical Jesus or earliest Christianity no matter how far-fetched, it is comforting to have someone like Craig Evans as a sure guide through the maze of books on Jesus and supposedly lost Christianities. Fabricating Jesus is simply the best and most well informed popular-level book ever written on the Gnostic and apocryphal Gospels, as well as on a host of other early traditions that in some way touch on the story of Jesus. Along the way, Evans also provides us with a sane and sober reconstruction of Jesus and his aims and the history of earliest Christianity. I hope this book will gain the wide audience it so richly deserves."
Ben Witherington III, Professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary, and author of The Jesus Quest and What Have They Done with Jesus?
Lee Strobel
"This powerful and persuasive book is a much-needed antidote to the outrageous distortions about Jesus and the Gospels that have been popularized in recent years. It's authoritative while still being accessible, and well-argued without being mean-spirited. I strongly recommend this outstanding resource to both Christians and spiritual seekers."
Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ
I. Howard Marshall
"Craig Evans is well-known in academic circles for his expertise in Judaism and the history of early Christianity. In this new book he brings a refreshing mixture of scholarly erudition and critical common sense to an evaluation of the various documents that have been thought to undermine the credibility of the New Testament and demonstrates convincingly that they cannot bear the burden of proof that has been placed upon them. Such documents as the Gospels of Thomas and Peter have no significant new light to shed on the historical Jesus. At a time when much baseless fiction is being developed by novelists on the basis of such dubious sources, it is good to have this exposé of just how fictitious such writings are."
I. Howard Marshall, Honorary Research Professor of New Testament, University of Aberdeen, and author of I Believe in the Historical Jesus and The Origins of New Testament Christology
John P. Meier
"Craig Evans is a prolific and distinguished scholar whose many books and articles are well known to his colleagues in the academy. Fabricating Jesus adds another fine work to the list of his accomplishments. For decades now, the unsuspecting American public has been subjected to dubious academic claims about the historical Jesus that hardly rise above the level of sensationalistic novels. In particular, the Coptic Gospel of Thomas has been misused as a privileged route to the historical Jesus, when in fact it is an interesting and valuable source for knowledge of the patristic period. Especially in regard to the Gospel of Thomas, Professor Evans's arguments against the misuse of apocryphal Gospels are especially cogent. This book is a healthful antidote to a great deal of what claims to be the quest for the historical Jesus in the United States today."
John P. Meier, William K. Warren Foundation Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame, and author of the multivolume work on the historical Jesus titled A Marginal Jew
Scott Hahn
"In Fabricating Jesus, we have one of the greatest talents in biblical studies applying his skills to one of the biggest problems in popular culture--the eclipse of the true Jesus, to whom history gives abundant witness. Craig Evans does a masterful job of exposing the sort of tabloid scholarship that captures headlines and confuses the general public. He returns us to the clear-headed analysis of genuine historical inquiry, demonstrating the reasonableness of the Gospel accounts. This book will clarify matters for ordinary readers, yet satisfy scholars too."
Scott Hahn, Professor of Theology and Scripture, Franciscan University of Steubenville
Gerald O'Collins
"This book belongs with the excellent work Craig Evans has already published on the historical Jesus. Professor Evans consistently uses evidence in a truly scholarly and properly balanced manner to reach convincing conclusions--so different from some sensationalist claims about Jesus that quickly turn out to be based on mere wishful thinking. This is contemporary Gospel apologetics at its very best."
Gerald O'Collins, S.J., Professor of Theology Emeritus, Gregorian University (Rome), and author of Jesus Our Redeemer
James D. G. Dunn
"The quest of the historical Jesus has been seriously misled by much poor scholarship and distorted almost beyond recognition by recent pseudoscholarship. But now Craig Evans out-skeptics the historical skeptics, demonstrating from his own intimate familiarity with the biblical texts and his mastery of ancient sources how unfounded are many of the claims made and how ridiculously bizarre are the hypotheses thought to give some support to The Da Vinci Codeand its like. The mature judgment of such an accomplished and front-rank scholar cannot be ignored or lightly gainsaid--a welcome draft from a clear spring after all the muddied waters of recent years."
James D. G. Dunn, Lightfoot Professor of Divinity Emeritus, University of Durham, and author of Jesus Remembered and Christology in the Making
Donald Senior
"Few scholarly debates are more controversial or more vulnerable to distorted views from right and left than the discussion about the historical Jesus. The increased attention given to extracanonical texts such as the recently published Gospel of Judas and even the fictional vapors of The Da Vinci Code can seem in the eye of the casual reader to put the historical and theological credibility of the New Testament materials themselves in question. That is why Craig Evans's thoughtful, well-informed and balanced review of the debate is so welcome. Fabricating Jesusis not a reaction to modern biblical scholarship but a judicious guide through the evidence--and a fair-minded and careful assessment of how scholars have dealt with it."
Donald Senior, President and Professor of New Testament, Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and author of Jesus: A Gospel Portrait
Gerd Theissen
"Craig Evans has written a necessary book on historical Jesus research. His book is exemplary for a 'conservative enlightenment.' It is aptly critical as scholarship--but it is also critical of sensational modern approaches in Jesus research that do not live up to the standards of academic research. In this well-written, lucid book, Evans informs readers of exciting new developments in Jesus research which outdate some hypotheses that were once in vogue. He knows academic scholarship from within--and also the very human aspects of all those who are engaged in Jesus research. So it is not only a very good scholarly book, but also a noble and fair book."
Gerd Theissen, Professor of New Testament Theology, University of Heidelberg, and author of The Shadow of the Galilean and The Gospels in Context
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830833559
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 9/26/2008
  • Pages: 290
  • Sales rank: 323,801
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Craig A. Evans (Ph.D., Claremont) is Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament and director of the graduate program at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. He has written extensively on the historical Jesus and the Jewish background of the New Testament era.

His books include Jesus and His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies (1995), Mark (in the Word Biblical Commentary, 2001), Jesus and the Ossuaries (2003) and Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies (2005). His edited volumes include (with Bruce Chilton) Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research (1994), (with Stanley E. Porter) Dictionary of New Testament Background (2000) and (with John Collins) Christian Beginnings and the Dead Sea Scrolls (2006). He has recently served on the advisory board on the Gospel of Judas for National Geographic Society and has appeared frequently as an expert commentator on network television programs, such as Dateline, and in various documentaries on the BBC, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
1. Misplaced Faith and Misguided Suspicion: Old and New School Skeptics
2. Cramped Starting Points and Overly Strict Critical Methods: The Question of Authenticity
3. Questionable Texts--Part I. The Gospel of Thomas
4. Questionable Texts--Part II. The Gospel of Peter, The Egerton Gospel, the Gospel of Mary and the Secret Gospel of Mark
5. Alien Contexts: The Case Against Jesus as Cynic
6. Skeletal Sayings: Maxims Without a Context
7. Diminished Deeds: A Fresh Look at Healings and Miracles
8. Dubious Uses of Josephus: Understanding Late Antiquity
9. Anachronisms and Exaggerated Claims: Christianities Lost and Otherwise
10. Hokum History and Bogus Findings: Jesus Between the Lines
11. Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? Unfabricating His Aims and Claims
Appendix 1. Agrapha: Free-floating Sayings of Jesus
Appendix 2. What Should We Think About the Gospel of Judas?
Glossary
Abbreviations
Notes
Recommended Reading
Author Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index
Index of Extracanonical Ancient Sources
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 12, 2009

    This is an excellent book that exposes the fallacious logic of so-called "Scholars" who try desperately to distort the Gospel record of Jesus Christ---due, in most cases, to their unbelief, not because of any inconsistency in the evidence.

    Highly Recommended!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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