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The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus

The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus

Book Description

From the Preface:

Meanwhile we may reflect with comfort on the words of Dupuis: “There are large numbers of men so perversely minded that they will believe everything except what is recommended by sound intelligence and reason, and shrink from philosophy as the hydrophobic shrinks from water. These people will not read us, and do not concern us, we have not written for them. Their mind is the prey of the priests, just as their body will be the prey of the worms. We have written only for the friends of humanity and reason. The rest belong to another world; even their God tells them that his kingdom is not of this world–that is to say, not of the world in which people use their judgment–and that the simple are blessed because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Let us therefore, leave to them their opinions, and not envy the priests such a possession.”

A quote (p. 65):

Historical theology has hitherto endeavoured to interpret tradition in the sense of its historical Jesus, and has lost its way in a labyrinth of difficulties, contradictions, and insoluble problems. We raise the question whether the documents may not be better and more simply interpreted in the opposite sense, and whether there is any need at all to interpret the tradition historically. On which side the truth is found cannot be determined by the starting point of the inquiry, but only by showing which interpretation best squares with the facts and which can be most easily established.

In any case our method cannot be pronounced wrong because, starting from a different assumption, we reach conclusions other than the theologian; not may one charge us with “confusion” or appeal against us in the name of “sound” investigation and science when our enquiry into the New Testament documents leads us to deny the historicity of Jesus, as long as it is not proved that our assumption is absurd.

The main chapter divisions:
“The Jewish Witnesses”
“The Roman Witnesses”
“The Witness of Paul”
“The Witness of the Gospels.”