Tuesday, March 1, 2011

BookTuesday: The Jesus Inquest

Next on the docket (and I use that word advisedly) is The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster. Why docket? Because Foster, while now primarily a writer, started his career as a barrister. For my fellow Americans, barrister is the British word for lawyer who argues in court. They have two kinds of lawyers: solicitors and barristers. Foster is also a part-time judge, an author, and Oxford professor. Enough about him. He's got his own webspace for self-promotion. You're here for my opinion of his book

His book? It's entitled The Jesus Inquest and it's published by Thomas Nelson Publishers. So, I got one free from Booksneeze in exchange for the review you are about to receive. That's it, though. Free book for a review—no money and no influence.

To pick up The Jesus Inquest is to commit yourself to being a little over your head, if you're an average reader. This book is quite detailed, and you may find yourself in need of a legal pad to keep up with it. Why?

Foster wrote this in the style of a debate. He created two characters, X and Y, to argue against and for the fact of the physical resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Apart from the uncreative names, this is a good setup for his presentation. Actually, the uncreative names are fine: there is not much prejudice to come from using algebraic variables in place of names.

X will present arguments that show the historical unlikelihood of Jesus rising from the dead. Y will refute those arguments. Y will present affirmative arguments that X then gets the opportunity to present.

While I can't say for certain that it's perfectly balanced, I think Foster balanced the two views fairly well. X's arguments have the weakness of presenting from the spectrum of anti-Resurrection theories. By this, rather than pursuing one particular theory of those who deny the Resurrection, Foster has X using many of the modern arguments. It results in X being very wide in presentation, but not as deep as some would argue. However, Y is faced with the variety to answer, so Y is not helped by this. I only bring this up because there will be some readers who question why X didn't bring up sub point 5 of argument 3. It's because X is not just using one argument but many.

Also, Foster seemed to do a good job keeping his own opinion to himself. While I share his opinion that the Resurrection really happened (I'm pretty sure that's his opinion), I think he was fair and clear for both sides. I'll admit that I might miss pro-Resurrection bias, though.

Is this a light and fluffy read? No. There are some weighty arguments. There are some ambiguities: if you think the Resurrection is an open-and-shut case in history outside of the Bible, you'll be surprised.

If, however, you are settled that the Resurrection is quite the shut-and-then-opened (and empty) case, you'll learn a good deal about both your own faith and some of the questions people are wrestling with about your faith.

You'll do well to read this one. Just keep a notepad handy.

Doug

Oh: here's what it looks like:

The Jesus Inquest: The Case For and Against the Resurrection of the Christ
Read the Disclosures! for this blog. Free book. Amazon affiliate link. I might could be bought, but paperback's aren't enough. I'm going to need at least a hardcover to sway me.

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