As many of you know, when my book How Jesus Became God appeared in March, a response book appeared, simultaneously, in which a group of evangelical Christian scholars provided their contrary views on many of the topics that I dealt with. They called their book – to no one’s real surprise! – How God Became Jesus. I devoted one post to their book on May 2, and you may want to look at that again if you’re interested.
The five scholars who produced the response each wrote an essay or two on various aspects of my discussion – e.g., Michael Bird on whether Jesus thought that he was God; Simon Gathercole on what the earliest Christains thought about Jesus; Charles Hill on issues related to later debates over Christology on the church. Also contributing were Chris Tilling (the one of them I don’t know) and Craig Evans.
I thought some of the essays were learned and interesting, though not entirely relevant to the claims or arguments of my book; others I thought were a bit turgid and less than compelling; others were a bit infuriatingly full of rhetoric and short of substance.
I decided long ago not to do a point-by-point response – in part because most people reading the blog haven’t read the book, and in part because I’m not sure there is really much reason to do so. The weak essays can be seen as weak by anyone who reads them and point-by-point refutations are rarely interesting. I should remind readers, though, that I did have a two-hour debate with Simon Gathercole, who, as I just indicated, contributed one of the essays, on the Unbelievable radio program here (where I currently am) in the UK. I posted the two episodes of the show, in case you want to listen to them, here on the blog, back in April. They were helpful and friendly discussions, I thought; he’s a smart fellow and a good scholar.
The one essay from the response book that people have repeatedly asked me about is “Getting the Burial Traditions and Evidences Right” by Craig Evans. It deals with an important issue in my book, the question of whether we can trust the traditions of Jesus’ burial as found in the New Testament, or whether these are legendary.
For my entire life, until about two years ago, I was convinced (even as a solid agnostic) that….
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