- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Charles Foster thought he knew the familiar story of the resurrection of Jesus. He thought Christianity rested on sound historical foundations.
But could he be wrong? Could Christianity be built on a terrible mistake or downright lie?
As nagging doubts began to surface, Foster turned to countless Christian books to find comfort and proof. But all he found were more questions. What began as a personal quest for reassurance ...
Charles Foster thought he knew the familiar story of the resurrection of Jesus. He thought Christianity rested on sound historical foundations.
But could he be wrong? Could Christianity be built on a terrible mistake or downright lie?
As nagging doubts began to surface, Foster turned to countless Christian books to find comfort and proof. But all he found were more questions. What began as a personal quest for reassurance quickly turned into an in-depth examination of the most astounding historical claim of all time. He crawled through Jerusalem tombs, dusty libraries, and the recesses of his own mind in search of an answer. He turned the war in his head—the war between faith and doubt—into this heated, no-holds-barred debate, which presents the case both for and against the resurrection of Jesus.
The Jesus Inquest takes you through medical evidence, Jewish burial practices, archaeological hypotheses, maps, ancient artifacts, the canonical and non-canonical gospels, biblical criticism, and much more, providing an unbiased examination of the facts of the case. A practicing trial attorney and University of Oxford academic, Charles Foster vigorously argues both sides of the issue, presenting information in compelling courtroom style and leaving no hard question unaddressed.
The Jesus Inquest gives readers the tools necessary to debate the most remarkable and controversial event of world history—a debate so crucial and fascinating it cannot be ignored.
DOES ALL THIS MATTER?
"The jar was not unusual. Like the cistern itself, it was of a kind common to the period, used for storing olives or grain, with a wide neck and a tapered stem. It was too large to have been used to draw water from the cistern.... Mordecai held the lamp, while Ya'acov and Asher separated the two halves of the broken jar, lifting one off the other like the lid from a box. Dagan crouched to examine the skeleton. 'How curious,' he said. He took a magnifying glass from his pocket and looked more closely. Ya'acov, Mordecai and Asher watched in silence. Then the professor glanced up, his face pale. 'We must touch nothing,' he said. 'Leave everything exactly as it is. We must have a witness to this, another archaeologist—someone, above all, who is not a Jew.'"PIERS PAUL READ, On the Third Day
"If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile ..."ST. PAUL, First Letter to the Corinthians, 15:17
The fact that you've opened this book suggests that you think that this resurrection business might matter. X and Y certainly think it does. If tomorrow's paper says that the bones of Jesus have been found, Y will be in despair. Indeed, X will say that they were discovered in 1980 in a first-century tomb in south Jerusalem, and that the despair should have begun.
X thinks that the resurrection is the most monstrous hoax ever perpetrated, or the most ridiculous fairy story ever to have been believed. He thinks, too, that the consequences of belief in that hoax or that fairy story have been catastrophic. He points (rather unoriginally, thinks Y) to the long history of anti-Semitism, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the hideous theocracy of Calvin's Geneva, the agony of the Catholics under Elizabeth and the agony of the Protestants under Mary, the sectarian hatred of Belfast, the "God Hates Fags" Web site, and to the sheer, life-denying joylessness of much of Christian culture. "Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean," wrote Swinburne, "The world has grown grey with thy breath." And red, X would add. X notes that with that addition, Swinburne was, for much of the Western world up to now, absolutely right. And he is still right about some of it—notably a big part of the U.S., whose belief in the resurrection of a Jewish medicine man, nailed to a piece of wood in the first century, seems apparently and bizarrely to suggest that there is a moral mandate to electrocute mentally subnormal criminals and bomb the living daylights out of a distant part of Mesopotamia. X regrets too that the Pale Galilean seems to have engendered in the world such a taste for repression, bigotry, and faction that when his stranglehold is released, others more sinister than he is move in unopposed to take over.
Y agrees with much of this. He can offer neither defense nor excuse for the obscenities committed in the name of the itinerant Jew he worships. He agrees that if the Jew didn't rise, then Christianity is a disgusting lie. St. Paul, after all, said that if the Easter story isn't true then Christians are to be pitied more than anyone else. Not only pitied, Y might add, but denounced for their gullibility and their genocidal tendencies. But Y also says (and X agrees) that if the Jew did rise, then the world changed dramatically on that first Easter Sunday.
Both X and Y agree, then, that this is a worthwhile debate. Whether Jesus rose or not isn't affected by the brutality, chauvinism, or downright tediousness of his followers through the ages. It's a matter of mere history: the fact or fallacy of the resurrection is in the same class of alleged facts as the contention that the battle of Agincourt was fought in 1415, or that I caught the 0856 train this morning. And so it is subject to the same sort of historical inquiry.
There is one caveat, though. We know that battles are sometimes fought and that people sometimes do catch trains. We don't know that men who are dead and buried sometimes rise. In fact, it is the Christian contention that they don't. The Christians say that it happened only once. If it happened more than once—if it was merely extremely rare instead of wholly unique—Christianity would have been shown simply to be wrong. We should then turn the cathedrals into bingo halls and the mission stations into brothels.
All this must have an effect on the way we approach the evidence. It must mean that we should prefer natural explanations to supernatural ones. Put another way, the burden of proving this wholly extraordinary event must be on the shoulders of the Christians. But it also means that X won't be so stupid as to say, "This didn't happen because these sort of things don't happen." If that's the starting point, it is also the ending point. Discussion is doomed. This might sound obvious, but it has often dogged academic discourse. Here is Gerd Ludemann dismissing the Ascension:
As a rule in such a case we did not ask the historical question. In this particular case let me hasten to add that any historical element behind this scene and/or behind Acts 1:9–11 must be ruled out because there is no such heaven to which Jesus may have been carried.
You can't begin to debate with an opponent like that.
There is a lot of ground to cover. We need to go deep into the characters of the people at the center of the drama; we need to know quite a lot about first-century Jewish burial practices and about the controversies that dogged the early church. We need to know a bit of Greek and some archaeology. We need to know whether that difficult, turbulent man Paul was a poet, a theologian, a soapbox orator, or a psychotic. But first we need to know something about the basic documents.CHAPTER 2
"To be still searching what we know not by what we know, still closing up truth to truth as we find it (for all her body is homogeneal and proportional), this is the golden rule in theology as well as in arithmetic." MILTON, Areopagitica
This chapter contains three sections. It starts off by presenting the points on which X and Y agree. Then X outlines his position, and Y follows.
X and Y: An agreed statement
We disagree on quite enough. There is no point in squabbling where we don't have to. We will get on quicker and more coherently if we state our agreement about the sources we will be using. What follows is a statement of the broad consensus of biblical scholarship. Not everyone will agree with all of it. Some will disagree with most of it.
The canonical Gospels and Acts
The canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were probably written in the first century AD. The general trend over the last half-century has been to push the dates of composition backward. It would have been a hallmark of dangerous fundamentalism for a scholar in the first half of the twentieth century to assert that John was first century. Now it would be rather eccentric not to assert it. Most people would opt for a date for John some time in the period of 80–100.
The order of writing
Most agree, too, that Mark is the first in time. The date is much disputed. Most critical scholars put it in the period of 65–75. Conservatives argue for an earlier date. Matthew and Luke follow; the order in which they follow is contentious. There is general agreement that they were written some time between about 70 and 90.
The relationship between the Gospels
People spend their lives talking about the relationship between the Gospels. We cannot begin to do justice to the complexity of the arguments. But probably it went something like this: Mark was first. He may or may not have had some pre-Markan passion narrative on his desk. Matthew and Luke had Mark. They also had a bundle of sayings (rather than doings) of Jesus. That bundle is known cryptically as "Q." But in addition to this, Matthew had something that Luke did not have, and Luke had something that Matthew did not have. What those somethings were is again the subject of bitter and learned argument. They might have been documents; they might have been personal memory; they might have been oral tradition.
Then there is John. He seems to have taken his own line across country. Some would say that he'd had a look at some of the earlier Gospels, but if he had, he doesn't seem to have had them in front of him when he wrote. Perhaps he had seen them long before or had them summarized to him by a secretary. His chronology is different from that of the synoptic writers, and he is much more Jerusalem-centric.
Look at any table comparing the contents of the Synoptic Gospels with those of John. At first blush they look (at least until you get to the very end) like biographies of different men. On second blush they are clearly not, but the question remains: why do they look so different? We don't know. Theories abound. Perhaps John knew what the others had written and was simply plugging the gaps.
He makes no bones about his purpose in writing his gospel: it is written "so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name." This is disarming frankness. X will suggest later that it is artfully disarming. But it might indicate why John differs so much from the others. His theological agenda is in some ways different. Perhaps he is merely picking out from the mass of material available to him (he acknowledges that he cannot include it all—there's far too much) the best vehicles for his theological points.
Who wrote the Gospels?
We have used "Matthew," "Mark," "Luke," and "John" as if those are the names of the authors. There is no agreement about this. The identity of the authors does not matter for now. Three things are important: first, the quality of the information upon which the accounts were based; second, the extent to which the author's own theological or other agenda intrudes into the storytelling; and third, what later editors have done with the basic account. These three issues mark out the battleground for many of the later spats between X and Y.
Although we cannot agree about authorship, we can summarize the various mainstream positions that are held.
From the end of the first century, the tradition was that Mark (whoever he was) was the companion and scribe of the apostle Peter. There is no convincing reason to doubt this—or at least to doubt that Peter was the source of many of the traditions recorded in the gospel. X would say that there is no very convincing reason, apart from the tradition, to believe it either. Y would say that the gospel is full of the sort of details that come from eyewitnesses and no one else, but concedes that this says nothing about the identity of the eyewitness.
The early Christians thought that the author of Matthew's gospel was the apostle Matthew, the tax collector. This is unlikely. If he had been an eyewitness himself, he would presumably not have relied as heavily on Mark as he does.
Why is Matthew credited with the gospel? Perhaps because he was the source of some of the other material in the gospel that doesn't come from Mark. Matthew may be Q. The issue doesn't matter much for our inquiry, since we are interested in events, not sayings. Q doesn't intrude into the death and resurrection accounts.
Luke was a non-Jew who knew Paul. He makes several appearances in Paul's letters. He was not one of the apostles. Acts (which is a very important document in the resurrection debate) is just Luke Part Two. The gospel and the book of Acts are dedicated to someone called Theophilus—presumably some sort of patron of Luke.5 We know nothing at all about Theophilus.
Luke boasts about the diligence of his research and the excellence of his sources:
Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.
Whether the boast was justified is contentious.
And then there is John. To mention his name is to disturb a nest of virulently poisonous theological hornets. Their numbers and the sound of their buzzing make it difficult to keep perspective. They have settled quite a bit over the last quarter of a century, though.
The second-century church thought that the gospel was written by the apostle John, somewhere in Asia, when he was a very old man. The gospel itself does not say who wrote it. But it does talk about "a disciple whom Jesus loved" and says that this disciple was involved in some way in writing the gospel. Talking about the flow of blood and water from Jesus' side, the gospel notes as an aside, "(He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth)." And right at the end: "[The beloved disciple] is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true." This last sentence is a teaser: the disciple has "written" these things in some sense, it says, but "we" (presumably the physical writer?) know that he's telling the truth. Whoever the disciple was, he is clearly saying that he was an eyewitness. Perhaps sitting old, arthritic, and blind in Ephesus, he was dictating his reminiscences to a scribe.
John, too, is a book to which something has clearly been added. Chapter 21 (which puts the risen Jesus in Galilee, doing some very interesting things) was obviously tacked on later. Chapter 20 ends: "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name." Curtain down, you'd have thought. But no, it goes up again straightaway for the final scene, only to end twenty-five verses later with another grand and rather similar peroration.
X, of course, will contend that this is suspicious. The activities of Jesus in chapter 21 are too blatantly symbolic to be real, he will say. The author is making theological and political points. We can't conclude from chapter 21 that the risen Jesus was ever seen in Galilee at all. Y, of course, disagrees. But that's beside the point for the moment. The consensus of scholarship is that there is no reason to suppose that the author of chapter 21 is not also the author of the rest of the gospel. The style's the same, chapter 21 contains no obvious anachronisms, and the clumsy tacking-on of chapter 21 is incompatible with a sinister intent to mislead.
The Gospel of Peter
The discovery of this strange document is itself a great story. The gospel of Peter is mentioned by some of the early church fathers but was thought to be completely lost. Then, around 1886, a monk's grave in Upper Egypt was dug up. In it was part of the gospel. And then, in 1972, it was realized that two bits of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri came from the same book. It was then possible to put together what we have today. (A translation of the relevant parts is in Appendix 4.) It is generally thought to have been written in the second century AD; specifically when in the second century is discussed greatly and inconclusively.
The overwhelming majority of biblical scholars reckon that Peter is a late, legendary encrustation on the canonical gospel stories. But a few (and notably John Dominic Crossan) think that they can identify a very early strand in Peter (which Crossan calls the Cross gospel) upon which the canonical gospel writers relied. Since Crossan is very much out on a limb, his very technical arguments from the Gospel of Peter do not feature further in this book. The gospel itself is mentioned further, by both X and Y, to make various rhetorical points.
New Testament letters
Paul's letters are important to this debate. Three of them are particularly important.
First Thessalonians, generally thought to be the first of Paul's surviving letters (and indeed the earliest of the documents in the New Testament), is usually dated at around AD 50–51. First Corinthians 15 contains the earliest written assertions about the historicity of the resurrection that we have. A lot of the argument in this book will center on it. Most authorities date it at around AD 54—significantly before the date that most people would give to all the Gospels. And then there is Romans—probably from about AD 56–57. There is no significant dispute about the Pauline authorship of these three documents.
Excerpted from The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster. Copyright © 2010 Charles Foster. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted March 23, 2011
The Case For and Against the Resurrection of the Christ
An interesting take on the debate among different sides of the resurrection faction. Litigated by two opposing players, X and Y, author Charles Foster seems to nail down some of the most difficult issues that seem to present themselves on both sides of the aisle.
This book is highly detailed with many sources being used in an extensive list of end notes and bibliography. Foster really did his homework when composing this masterpiece. Full of information, sometimes diving very deep into theology and thought, The Jesus Inquest is reference tool for someone looking to investigate apologetics in regards to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Not a weekend read, because of the heady material, but worth a read for those who have been interested in Lee Strobel's "The Case For..." series.
Booksneeze gave me the book for review in exchange for my unbiased review.
Posted March 22, 2011
I just finished reading The Jesus Inquest: The Case For and Against The Resurrection of Christ by Charles Foster as part of the BookSneeze blogger review program. I was given this book as a gift and was not asked to give a positive review in exchange for said gift.
Charles Foster, an attorney (barrister) from England, has presented a very interesting concept in that he presents both sides of the case as he would do if he were presenting this in front of a jury. It's actually an amazing concept and extremely informative as he goes from A to Z and leaves no stone unturned.
Watch as "X" and "Y" square off in a amazing battle of two attorneys (actually Foster) arguing both sides in the case of the Resurrection of Christ. Foster has done a brilliant job of research on this project and it shows. Each "sides" case is impeccably researched and meticulously argued by "X" and "Y" with both sides offering very compelling cases. I enjoyed this concept very much.
This book was a very long and difficult read. One needs to really take their time with this book in order to absorb it fully. It's long and tedious but well worth the time and effort it takes to read this book. Who wins? You'll have to buy the book!
I've read plenty of books on this subject and this book is worth the effort. Charles Foster has done a massive amount of research and has offered a well written and valuable work to the Body of Christ. It may not be the best of the best on this subject but in my opinion it's worth the time and worthy of a spot on your bookshelf!
4 Stars! You can purchase this book here.
Posted March 9, 2011
The Jesus Inquest By Charles Foster Book Description An unbiased examination and compelling courtroom presentation revealing the undeniable facts of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. My first concern was that this was going to be another attempt to 'debunk' the death and ressurection of Christ. I can assure you that it is not. Charles Foster unbiasly presented both sides of the argument, in the end proving the resurrection as authentic.
This book is an excellent primer for presenting your own debates and discussions with non-believers or those on the fence. I highly reccomend this book for everyone who has ever been curious, especially believers.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Posted February 28, 2011
There are a few things to know before purchasing this book. First, this is not a feel-good sort of book. It was not written as one. The object of the book is neither to provide assurance for a naïve Christian, nor to fuel the arguments of a bigoted atheist. It is intended to be a reunion of the most cogent and complete arguments for and against the Resurrection of Christ. It is written I order to make it possible for a prospective spiritual inquirer to receive as objective a viewpoint on the topic as possible and thus, to make an informed decision.
Second, if one has a predetermined bias regarding the subject matter, one must try to lay it aside before beginning the book. It will not do to only read the parts that one wants to read as that will be neither productive nor wise. The author has tried in my opinion, fairly successfully to create a work that presents both sides as fairly as possible. If one does not see this and chooses to fixate on the section that affirms a persistent bias, then the whole book will far from being a help, be a determent.
Third, this book is fairly recent and thus contains some of the most up to date information and references available. One can make a decision based on the data presented here without very much fear of being outdated.
Fourth, this book may present you with troubling information that may prod your towards a very large decision. The question of the Resurrection may be the most important in all of history. If you feel the need to be well informed before making a decision, this book is a must. Whatever your situation, I can assure you that if you read this book with an open mind (which as a member of Foster's jury you ought to), I can promise you that after reading it, you will not be the same as before you read it.
Posted February 24, 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this para-scientific book on - as the subtitle points out - the case for and against the resurrection of the Christ. I liked the premise of the book, which sets out to collect and present available material for both sides, leaving the reader with the responsibility for making the for or against decision.
Since Charles Foster, apart from being a writer, is also a barrister, the information he presents is laid out by two fictional parties, an X - being against the resurrection and a Y - a Christian counterpart and believer. This gives the author an opportunity to examine, much like in the court of law, the available evidence from both sides: prosecution and defense. And there is plenty of material - as we might surmise - to go through: archaeological, historical, as well as stemming from extrabiblical sources and Jewish traditions, etc. Contrary to what it could look like at the first glance, it makes the reading quite enjoyable and the process of arriving at one own conclusions - captivating.
While I thought I was pretty well versed in the evidence for Jesus' resurrection, I still found the new material "against" very intriguing: access to documents, pictures and theses from the latest archeological discoveries shed new light on the arguments against resurrection and helped me formulate new apologetic insight. If the value of a book of this kind can be judged by the number of passages highlighted in color, my underlines, colors and side notes prove it to be a very good read.
Posted February 22, 2011
The Jesus Inquest By Charles Foster
An unbiased examination and compelling courtroom presentation revealing the undeniable facts of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Intelligent, fair, and remarkably compelling, The Jesus Inquest argues the case both for and against the resurrection of Christ. Point-by-point, Foster, in turn as both barrister X and Y, leaves no theological stone or dissenter's rock unturned as he digs for answers and the truth. In the end he is more convinced that Jesus is real, that He did rise again, and that He lives to offer forgiveness and hope to all who come to Him.
This book is by no means an easy read. However it sparked my interest as i started to reading it. This is an extraordinary achievement by Charles Foster. He covered all angles of the death and the ressurection and presented the case for and against. He backed up each case for and against by substantial facts. but yet he try not to influence the read in either directions. Foster is brilliant even as he tries to write this as a Christian and didn't allow any biasness to slip through his writings. it's definitely a good read to challenge your mind and to back up your faith. Afterall, we have every rights to be a sophisticated christian to the world yet simple to God.
?Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Posted February 5, 2011
Just a few chapters into this book, I was already thinking, "I love this book and I know exactly who I would recommend it to." Going through the chapters, I was never tempted to gloss or skim anything, I wanted to read each line carefully and when I came to the end of a chapter, I found myself continuing on - almost like I was reading fiction.
That is very rare.
The Jesus Inquest is a different kind of apologetic book, and if you're not "into" apologetics, this is probably the book for you. And if you ARE into apologetics - this is EXACTLY the kind of book for you.
I guess I have to go into a little of Foster's bio so that you can fully grasp the vision of this book. Charles Foster is a barrister in Oxford (which is kind of like being a lawyer in the U.S.) and so he approaches this book as both the prosecution and the defense in the case of "Did Jesus Die and Rise from the Dead?"
Foster writes in his preface, "Some have said that the book should have been written by two authors - one committed to the Christian position and another to the non-Christian position.only then. can we be sure that each case is argued as passionately as it should be. Only then can we be certain that the proponents positions are not diluted consciously or unconsciously." And certainly that is a logical argument, but reading through this book I can honestly say that Foster does an amazing job arguing both sides.
Reading the prosecution argue against the death of Jesus, I found myself seeing the "other side" of the coin and even at times agreeing with the non-Christian voice. Later reading the prosecution argue against the burial of Christ, I found myself getting tense and hostile towards the author and I had to remind myself that THIS was the same voice who will later argue in defense of it. Foster does an amazing job of speaking logically and clearly for both sides - and I think anyone who reads this book (despite their beliefs) will come out agreeing that the Christian side seems "more plausible" to have actually happened. More so than any other book I have read on the Passion story (including More than A Carpenter or The Case for Christ) the Jesus Inquest is certainly the book for the reader of logical modern thought (if that makes any sense).
Foster breaks the argument down into the categories of death, burial, resurrection and post resurrection appearances. Then within each chapter the argument is broken in half with the prosecution arguing first as voice "X" and the defense presenting second as voice "Y." Each chapter addresses known historical discoveries and traditions, the biblical voice, support from outside sources, and logic and reason. Plus, to make the book even more thorough, Foster includes four appendices, notes and a bibliography.
I could not recommend this book more highly and I know that I will go back to this one again and again; especially when preparing notes for easter sermons and apologetics classes.
Posted February 3, 2011
I have just completed reading the "The Jesus Inquest", by Charles Foster. Foster has taken great strides to allow the reader to examine the Resurrection of Christ, debate. this text looks at both sides of the resurrection argument, and Foster utilizes Mr. X and Mr. Y to debate the sides. This text provides for many arguments on both sides of the debate and as a reader of this text, it only left me with a more convincing argument for the actual resurrection of Christ.
As I turned the pages and read the arguments for and against, I placed myself, or at least tried to place my self in the middle of the time. By dong so, I am convinced that the Bible is a true depiction of the events. In many cases both Mr. X and Mr. Y agree on points and in some cases agree to disagree. Also many skeptics and scholars alike agree that Christ did indeed exist. Where they differ is how He disappeared from the tomb. Obviously, the skeptics say that Christ's body to taken away by His disciples, the argument for the resurrection points towards the guards and the heaviness of the stone which covered the entrance to the tomb.
For most, this book will not change the minds of its readers, except that by faith and the teachings of the Bible, can Christians believe in the physical resurrection of Christ.
Thank you Charles Foster for your study and expertise in putting this book together. It is a wonderful addition to a Christian Library with compelling arguments.
Posted February 2, 2011
The Jesus Inquest brings the reader face to face with a fascinating debate over the issue of the crucifixion and death of Jesus, the empty tomb, and the appearance of Jesus in the post resurrection. Charles Foster employs the debate through character X and Y ... X presents a non-Christian debate and Y presents the Christian debate.
I found that Foster brings the reader both sides of these hotly debated topics. I appreciated that Foster leaves the reader to make up his or her own mind on these arguments. This book is based on facts and of course thoughts of both X and Y in a manner that allows the reader to hear the reasons from both perspectives. This book is not written in a story fashion, but more in fact based topic format. I am a Christian and I found some of X's comments to be disturbing, but at the same time I was given the opportunity to see how a non-believer would view these events and that alone prepares me to present the facts to a non-believer so that they might see that the resurrection of Christ did occur. I have read several apologetic books and studied Christian Theology from Calvary Bible College and I can say after reading this book that it covers Christian values from a solid Biblical perspective.
So who should read this book? This book is not for those looking for a recreational read, but if you are wanting to read an in depth look on the facts surrounding the death, resurrection and post resurrection life of Jesus then you will not be disappointed. The book will motivate, enlighten and provoke any reader.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
Posted February 2, 2011
I choose to read "The Jesus Inquest: The Case For and Against The Resurrection of The Christ" by Charles Foster, more out of curiosity than liking. I wanted to hear what Mr. Foster had to opine on one of the most gripping and spiritual questions to have puzzled humanity through generations. More so because he had already taken the stand to stay neutral and plead both cases- for and against.
The book covers a wide range of well known topics like the death and burial of the Christ, His resurrection, etc and presents them all with arguments for and against. Each argument is also accompanied by evidences from literary sources both Christian and Non- Christian. Mr. Foster has pleaded a wonderful case without heavily tilting on neither side.
"The Jesus Inquest" is not a light read and one must be prepared to spare quite a lot of time, if one is to grasp the arguments. An excellent book for both the believers and non believers.
Posted February 1, 2011
The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster is an open case study for the evidence in support and against the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In it Foster strives to dig deeper into the issues and questions that linger over this important doctrine in Christianity. After he had come up short in finding adequate answers for his own questions in volumes of Christian resources, Foster set out to find the answers himself. From his results he has unveiled what he feels is the polar topics between those who argue against Christ's resurrection and those who argue for it. Foster presents his work from the arguments of character X (non-Christian view) and character Y (Christian view).
Overall, I felt that this was a very fascinating book. Foster does an excellent job presenting the evidence as unbiased as possible. He truly challenges the reader to think for themselves as they look into this foundational doctrine of the Christian faith. He unpacks all his argument is a very deep but understandable fashion. I truly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to the puzzled seeker of truth, the seminary student, or the average Christian sitting in the pew. This book will challenge each of us not to just walk in blind faith, but to be more prepared to fulfill the mandate of 1 Peter 3:15.
Disclosure: I did receive a free review copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers, but was not required to write a positive review.
Posted February 1, 2011
Other than the cool cover I had no idea about the content of the work. I was surprised, pleasantly so, at how captivated I was by the authorship. Foster takes turns presenting both dissenting and agreeable information concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Several times, while reading, I was forced to remind myself that both X and Y were the same person. The banter between 'the both of them' draws the reader in. In a simple but complete examination of the resurrection narrative Mr. Foster clearly explains both sides of the argument. As one who approached the book holding to an actual, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ I thought I may be some what bored. This is not at all the case. After reading X's view I would often wait a day or two before reading Y's. The point was to stretch my own apologetic and reason to try to find holes in X's arguments. Whether I was successful or not I found the exercise to be challenging and encouraging.
I highly suggest this work. Supposedly you could put the book down after reading and still, maybe, believe that Christ coming back to life was a myth or fable but you would be hard pressed to do so. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, not only in what he 'stands for' but what He actually said and did this book is an excellent resource and apologetic while being simple enough and easy to follow. As added bonus the research matter is found at the end of the book in appendices for those who enjoy digging deeper. For the rest of us the literary, courtroom banter is sufficient.
Posted January 21, 2011
This book was very intriguing. Arguments for and against the case of the death and resurrection of Jesus were presented in a very educated manner that stated the passion behind the arguments without getting just dirty like so many discussions about religious topics do. I was amazed to see the variety of arguments against the case of Jesus as the Christ. Growing up in the Bible Belt in a faith-strong family, I have never heard some of these contentions. Yes, I have had questions before, but none that really shook me to the core.
I can tell you though that this book also did not shake my faith. In fact, it made me more and more sure of the beliefs that I hold. And not because there were arguments for "my" side, but even in reading the opposing thoughts, I was more and more secure in my faith. I think this book made me realize what some people out there are honestly thinking and opened me to listening to them thoroughly. It also gave me plenty of support behind my beliefs to not only believe more fully, but to defend those beliefs in the face of skeptics. It really opened my mind and for that, I am appreciative.
Although it got a bit too scholarly at times (which I understand why it needed to, but it did not make the reading any easier in parts), I think the purpose of the book is well thought out, well argued, and well planned. I think this would be a great tool for anyone searching, doubting, questioning, or just wondering. It also will serve as a great tool for supporting one's faith, as it did for me. The reader must, however, commit to some periods of heavy reading to make it worth their time. All in all, I would definitely recommend, but not as light reading.
Posted January 20, 2011
The Jesus Inquest: The Case For and Against the Resurrection of the Christ by Charles Foster was given to me to review by BookSneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing. Foster, a lawyer in Britain by trade, sets out to give evidence as an opponent for the resurrection and subsequently writes as a proponent. The intent is to give unbiased opposing views, though the fight in Foster seems stronger as he opposes Christianity's claim.
As I read The Jesus Inquest it dawned on me that possibly he was playing devil's advocate more intently on purpose. Two-thirds into the book Foster remarks that Christians can continue their church attendance. I suppose when someone realizes their beliefs rest on fallacies they argue more adamantly.
At times I found myself going back to the Bible and remembering when the New Testament speaks of the overwhelming belief in fallacies and lies in the Last Days. Foster did not write this book for those weak in their faith. I would never attempt to hand a new convert a book as the mind can be so gullible when they aren't spiritually mature. I have to remark though that the evidence for Christ's resurrection is set down so pointedly and decisively, exhausting monologues and spinning facts aren't necessary for the believer. Many of the opponent's attempts at evidence are long-winded and pure tall tales at their best.
The Jesus Inquest is enjoyable at times and can become frustrating at others. The arguments draw you in as some are very imaginative. Foster has enabled my faith to progress as it exercised my belief system. Christ's resurrection is the crux that Christianity rests upon and for that I am assured.
Posted January 19, 2011
What I discovered in The Jesus Inquest was very thought-compelling. I could tell right from the start that this was not the type of book a new Christian should read. The facts presented could easily shake the core beliefs their recently-received faith is built upon. Questions are raised and so-called "evidence" is revealed that could cause any Christian to doubt if they are not resolutely rooted in their commitment to God. However, on the other side of this frequently-flipped coin, a non-Christian could pick up this book and just as easily educate himself or herself on the religious arguments that they may have never seen before. Many rumors and objections that I had never been faced with were revealed to me and just as quickly argued against within the same pages.
The book's presentation is very appealing. On one side is X--the non-Christian--who presents many alternative views to the resurrection of Christ. X uses a variety of methods to refute the Christian belief--from the revelation of scientific evidence, to reasoning, and even to comparisons of the Bible to myths. Granted, they are well researched. X did his homework, and made many compelling cases. However, as soon as X was finished, Y, the Christian, stepped in. Y goes through each of X's accusations and pieces of evidence and disproves or counters them using almost the same methods: scientific evidence, reason, and facts. Y, too, did his homework.
In the end, Charles Foster did something I didn't expect--he doesn't pick a side. He doesn't finish off his book by saying, "While X made some great points, in the end, it's obvious he's an absolute nutter. Y is obviously the one who is right." Rather, Foster leaves the reader with all the evidence he can present--for and against the truth of the resurrection--and essentially lets them loose into their own minds to decide for themselves how they feel about what's been laid out before them. Furthermore, the book doesn't end there. There are appendices of extra information, a section of pictures and diagrams to accompany the readings, and a list of additional literature for the inquisitive mind. Foster will not make a decision for the reader. That is up to them and them alone. He is merely an informant, and he does an excellent job of presenting the case in the pages of this excellent book. **DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Posted January 12, 2011
The Jesus Inquest: The Case For and Against The Resurrection of tthe Christ by Charles Foster, is a welcome addition to the genre of literature that defends the biblical belief in the resurrection of Jesus. The biggest distinction of this book is that it thorougly covers the arguments for and against the resurrection. The objective nature of this book, may present a stumbling block for some readers whose faith in Christianity is lukewarm, Perhaps for certain indivduals whose faith in the resurrection is shakey or for those who are adamant in their atheism- they may find themselves swayed by the arguments against the resurrection.
While it is not the first time, an attorney has taken it upon himself to cover the case for the resurrection of Jesus in a book, Foster's book is unique in the sense that he believes the evidence presented should not be faith based. He states in the preface, "I shudder to think of the sort of faith that rests on such certanties.......You can only make 'beyond reasonable doubt' assertions if faith has dictaed the course of the trial. And a trial like that is no trial at all..... Faith has absolutely no part to play in the inquiry itself". He refers to himself as an "intellectual prostitute" preface xi. In otherwords, he takes pride in his objectivity, stating that he is better at arguing points that he either does not believe in or has no personal stake in. Hence, being the devil's advocate, make his arguments more powerful than that of a Christian who seeks to defend the resurrection based on faith.
The book is presented as a logical argument remeniscent to those arguments of Aristotle and Socrates. Firstly, the main documents/ evidence is presented, which includes the books of the bible as well as other ancient written works and sources such as Tacitus, Seutonius and Josephus. This scholarly examination and scuitiny is applied to the examination of other works, even modern works such as the infamous Davinci Code. Without going into the author's conclusions and spoiling the experience for the reader- the book covers arguments and addresses the issues for the death, burial, the empty tomb, post resurrection appearances, early church beliefs as well as the well known shroud of Tourin. Each section has its own dedicated chapter presenting arguments for and against. A black and white photograph insert is included in the book as well. The arguments are presented as "x" vs "y", whereas one represents the case against the resurrection and the other represents the advocate for the resurrection of Jesus.
Regardless of what you believe- whether you are a staunch athiest, or a born again believer, the debate on the validity of the resurrection is important and should not be dismissed. This book will appeal to the secular and educatedreader as well as religious reader alike. As a blogger for booksneeze, I recieved a copy of the book from Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of writing this review, This book makes an excellent reference book, and is a book that merits serious consideration when making a decision on the case for the resurrection.
Posted January 8, 2011
The ages old controversy of whether Jesus Christ truly died on the cross was buried and resurrected is looked at through the eyes of a attorney with both sides given complete consideration in The Jesus Inquest- The Case For And Against The Resurrection Of The Christ by Charles Foster. Charles Foster, a lawyer, explorer, and medical ethics professor at the University of Oxford has fairly treated both sides of this age old question that so many of us ask ourselves "Could It Be True? or "Was It All A Hoax"?
Using a complete resources guide from historical records and archeological discoveries made recently Charles Foster has examined all the facts in the minutest detail and come up with his own conclusion. He may be the only man who could have treated both sides equally.
I will say that The Jesus Inquest is not an easy book to read no matter what side of the fence you claim to support, but that is the nature of reading material from an attorney. The flow tends to go back and forth and I would have preferred that the illustrations and photos were aligned with the topics they were discussing rather than in the center of the book, but alas that was not the case.
I myself found the book fascinating to read and learned a few things that I was not aware of. Of course with a topic of this explosive nature you are sure to have new claims come to the forefront all the time. As a believer I didn't need to read it, but as a believer I wanted to read all I can get my hands on as well. For those who aren't believers you may find some interesting facts reside within these pages that may or may not change your mind. The point is to be aware of everything before you make a claim on a position in one way or another. The Jesus Inquest will give you that knowledge and I hope you'll give it a serious consideration to reading what's contained within these wonderful pages.
I would love to go along with him on one of his many research quests! How exciting that would be! You'll find The Jesus Inquest - The Case For And Against The Resurrection Of The Christ by Charles Foster; Thomas Nelson Publishers at Amazon or at Barnes & Noble.
Posted January 4, 2011
If you want a scholarly type read, this is a book for you. If you are looking to learn the answer to the question in more of a story format, this will not be a book for you. I am not saying this is a bad book or that I do not recommend it, I just prefer my books in a different written format.
After getting through the book I do believe that the answers you seek will be laid out right in front of you. With all the facts, you will be able to see clearly and make your own decision.
Posted December 31, 2010
In his latest book, "The Jesus Inquest", British lawyer Charles Foster puts forth an in-depth, scholarly, and virtually exhaustive study of the events surrounding (tomb, death, burial) and finally the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Putting his trial skills on display, Foster puts the resurrection on trial, presenting both sides of the resurrection debate. Foster is involved in an internal debate. A debate in which Foster himself admittedly does not know what side he will come down on. The format and style of this book is unlike any I have ever read. The premise is a debate between two characters, X and Y. Character X takes on and plays the role of the skeptic while Character Y takes on and assumes the role of the Christian. The skeptic takes the floor first with massive amounts (too much at times, I'm afraid) of research ready to refute the possibility of a physical resurrection. X has done his homework, but at times builds "straw-man" arguments. In typical trial fashion, the Christian takes the floor next. He deals with each point that X puts forward with a sense of reality and brevity (which I think helps his case). As in a real court case, there is a jury to weigh out the evidence and argument and come to a conclusion. In this book, the reader is the jury. Overall this is a good work from the apologist standpoint. One negative issue I had with this book is that the research put forward from X's position makes this book seem like a "textbook". As a Christian, some of the phrases and terminology used by X to characterize Y were at times offensive. Although I didn't agree with everything Foster wrote, it does not negate the fact that he has put forth a great work that is well-written and well worth your time. As a pastor, I encourage my people to read behind people they don't agree with in order to be better prepared to defend what they do believe in. "The Jesus Inquest" provides such an avenue. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 29, 2010
The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster
You may have heard people arguing the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you have, you have probably heard some very interesting and intelligent statements. And, then again, you might have heard some really dumb ones. Charles Foster is a barrister, the British version of an American lawyer. From the way he has written this book, I would say that he must be an excellent barrister.
In the very beginning of the book, he tells you that he will give the arguments concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ from both sides. He calls them X and Y. Being the brilliant barrister that he is, he amasses every conceivable fact possible for both the prosecution as well as the defense. Being a former pastor, I thought that I had heard every argument. How wrong I was!
In each chapter, the prosecution against the resurrection would go first. He was so good at presenting facts and arguments, that I was not quite sure how good his defense was. However, when it came time for the defense to offer a rebuttal, he was equal to the task if not greater.
I like chapters seven and eight the best. Chapters one through six were evenly argued. But, in seven and eight, the defense absolutely destroyed the prosecution and laid out the believer's case for the resurrection in no uncertain terms. Even this former pastor learned several things. This book will be on the front of my bookshelf. I will refer to those chapters again and again.
Booksneeze has supplied me with a copy of this book in return for my review.