Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition?by Robert M. Price
"This book is complex and
"His study, though, provides dynamic prose renderings of what Price considers to be the themes of Jesus' preaching, such as the Kingdom of God and possessions, as well as the creativity and influence of Jesus' parables. Recommended for general audiences and, when used with other sources, for undergraduates." - Religious Studies Review
"This book is complex and highly detailed. It demands to be read and reread carefully. Price is my kind of biblical scholar in his relentless but non-dogmatic reasoning. This informative and gripping book shows us how the Gospel stories were put together in order to satisfy religious craving." - Ulster Humanist
"This book should be mandatory reading for all scholars concerned with Christian origins ... nothing of comparable importance has been written for at least a decade." - Freethinker
For more than a century scholars have been examining the Gospels and other traditions about the life of Jesus to determine their historical accuracy. Although the results of these scholarly efforts are sometimes controversial, the consensus among researchers today is that the four Evangelists' accounts cannot be taken at face value. In fact, a team of more than 100 scholars called the Jesus Seminar has come to the conclusion that on average only about 18 percent of the four Gospels is historically accurate.
An active member of the Jesus Seminar, Dr. Robert M. Price presents the fruits of this important historical research in this fascinating discussion of early Christianity. As the title suggests, Price is none too optimistic about the reliability of the Gospel tradition as a source of accurate historical information about the life of Jesus. Indeed, he feels that his colleagues in the Jesus Seminar are much too optimistic in their estimate of authentic material in the Gospels. After an introduction to the historical-critical method for nonspecialists and a critique of the methods used by the Jesus Seminar, Price systematically discusses the narrative and teaching materials in the Gospel, clearly presenting what is known and not known about all of the major episodes of Jesus' life. He also examines the parables for authenticity as well as Jesus' teachings about the Kingdom of God, repentance, prayer, possessions and poverty, the Atonement, and many other features of the Gospels.
Written for the general reading public in a lively and accessible style, Dr. Price's highly informative discussion will be of interest to anyone who has wondered about the origins of Christianity.
Robert M. Price, Ph.D. (Selma, NC), professor of scriptural studies at the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary, is the editor (with Jeffery Jay Lowder) of The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave and the Journal of Higher Criticism. He is also the author of Top Secret: The Truth Behind Today's Pop Mysticisms; The Paperback Apocalypse: How the Christian Church Was Left Behind; The Reason-Driven Life: What Am I Here on Earth For?; The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man; and Deconstructing Jesus; among other works.
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The subtitle of Dr. Robert M Price's book The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man tells the whole story: How Reliable is the Gospel Tradition? And that is the question we all have, as either atheists or theists. How reliable is this thing? Many don't believe in the supernatural aspects relayed on the pages, but the "reliability" of scripture is an argument almost every Christian will bring up as a reason to believe in god. So, what if it wasn't so reliable? Price starts off with a short introduction into the method of form criticism, and then moves quickly into it's application. He tackles the gospel story in pretty much chronological order and quickly points out how easily dismissed many of the claims can be: items like the virgin birth, the lineage of Jesus, his ministry, and the miracles just don't hold up to close scrutiny from either a logical or a historical perspective. When Price really gets going, he points out the two different (often completely contradictory) Christian traditions found in the bible, that he compares to the Buddhist Hinayana and Mahayana schools. The fact that there even are different schools of thought in the New Testament seems to escape most of the followers of Christianity but, once you learn to recognize them, the compositional style of the Bible begins to unfold right in front of you. Price concludes with revealing chapters on the crucifixion and resurrection. He clearly shows the evolving nature of the resurrection narrative. Never one to expect anyone to merely accept what he says, Price includes notes at the end of each chapter and a scriptural index at the end of the book. Highly Recommended and entertaining to read