Friday, May 17, 2013
Inventing Jesus: A must read for freethinkers / a should read for Christians
I’ve read a number of biblical criticisms by clergy, biblical scholars, and laymen. One can glean bits and pieces of important and enlightening facts about the agendas and objectives of the biblical writers. But, I just finished reading Inventing Jesus: The New Testament Narrative as Fiction by Paul Gabel and in this camel’s humble opinion, it is the final word in the genre.
Over six-hundred pages of footnoted and well documented detail; a bibliography that would take months to read; with a level of research that is the mark of a dedicated history academic (Mr. Gabel’s profession) - makes this a remarkable and important work. The author takes great pains to provide clarifications of terms, and examples to ensure the reader isn’t left in the dust even if he/she does not have a strong bible familiarity. In a word: You don’t have to be fluent in bible to understand and appreciate this remarkable exposé.
The premise is summarized in the title. First, the author provides arguments for virtually every competing theory on the personage of Jesus from modern day and earlier biblical experts: total fabrication, historical person deified post mortem, amalgamation of pre-Christian pagan man-gods, a character born of the compilation of Old Testament Hebraic prophecies and prophets…you name it, and it’s discussed, in detail with supporting and convincing documentation.
Gabel then takes us though some of the most recognized as well as obscure books and verses of the bible, comparing and contrasting the accounts of events that churn up contradiction after convoluted contradiction about Jesus' background and who he supposedly was and did (much to the consternation of Christian apologists ancient and modern); identifying interpolations; introducing non-Christian critiques by contemporaries of the biblical writers and early church founders; pointing out blatant attempts of the New Testament writers to “one up” early Hebrew personages and prophets to elevate Jesus above King David, Elijah and Moses.
I’m barely scratching the surface trying to describe the scope of subject matter, the myriad facts, arguments and competing theories that leads one to a greater understanding of the hows and whys of the genesis, infancy, and evolution of the Jesus myth and Christian doctrine. More than an informative and engaging read, this is a veritable encyclopedia of New Testament / Jesus analysis and criticism, a reference book that belongs in the library of every freethinker who engages in biblical debate or discourse.
Bottom line is this: no one will ever be able to fully prove or disprove the existence of a historical Jesus, with or without the supernatural bells and whistles. But if only one book were entered into evidence to counter the biblical account, the overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence for the bible as fiction contained in Inventing Jesus would be grounds for conviction of the Christian writers as charlatans, or a hung jury at worst.
It’s often said that reading the bible is one of the strongest causes of loss of faith and acceptance of reason. I’ll proffer that Inventing Jesus will prove to be just as if not more of a driver if only Christians have the curiosity and courage to read it.
Buy this book. You won’t be disappointed.