Ehrman methodically gives plausible reasons leading to the conclusion that a man named Jesus did exist - and was the basis (somehow) for later stories about him.
remind yourself of some Bible stories you've forgotten. Imagine the movie running in your mind as you listen to the stories.
The first half of the book sets out the most prevalent rationale adopted by questioning Believers to bolster their faith or assuage their doubts. Jeffrey does a better job than many evangelists of mentioning problems with his arguments that still cause debate among scholars, but he omits a whopper. Particularly weak for a book alleging to offer "proof" is his unspoken premise that the Synoptic Gospels are completely reliable and therefore substantiate prior prophecy - only to loop back using substantiate prophecy as "proof". In a book with this agenda, he must consider whether the Synoptics were specifically written to make it appear that prior prophecy had been fulfilled and respond to those critics. He is silent.The second half of the book deteriorates into the author's personal apocalyptic interpretation of Scriptures and is not very convincing. Notice how the authors mentions that there are thousands of fulfilled prophecies, then mentions that there are hundreds, then says there are many, and finally just explains in detail how a carefully chosen few (might) have been fulfilled if you think about them in just the right way.
Spong expresses the certainty that something amazing happened during and at the end of Jesus's life, yet also explains how the explanations we accept as "Gospel" today may have been plausibly embellished to the extent that we cannot know what to believe (exactly).
The failure of Spong to articulate a satisfactory substitute that the human mind can grasp in place of the traditional dogma.
Worth the time to hear succinct presentation of an alternative viewpoint delivered directly, rather than as a "straw-man" by a traditional evangelist.
I really liked the first Spong book that I read, "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism". Each chronologically subsequent book got a bit less precise culminating in this one. What exactly does eternal life mean? He doesn't explain it.
If you are not a Believer a priori, then there is no utility from this book.
This is a three-hour orthodox evangelical sermon delivered in whispery, emotive tones. The author doesn't even bother to set up straw men about why the Bible might not be inspired and knock them down. He assumes we all agree within the first few pages that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, blah blah blah... and even says that the remainder of his book won't make sense unless one agrees that. Isn't that circular reasoning?
His two repeated assertions to prove divine inspiration are, "There is no other possible explanation for...", and "The only possible explanation is...". In fact, scholars have plenty of alternative explanations that I hoped the author would address. Very frustrating.
This books is only intended to assure the faithful that they can ignore any creeping doubts that might enter their minds.
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