I’ll get to the details later in the post but here’s the challenge:
Read 12 short pages of the introduction to John A.T. Robinson’s book, Redating the New Testament. You can read it on-line or even download the PDF file. As you read it, remember that Bishop Robinson is a liberal who denies the resurrection and teaches that the only God is the one within you.
I received an email from John Dominic Crossan earlier this month. I had told him that as a conservative Christian who lives in his town, I’d like to meet him and possible do an interview. He asked me to contact him again as soon as he was in the United States. I was challenged by a Jesus Seminar fan to actually read a Crossan book cover to cover because he thinks I am misrepresenting the claims of the Jesus Seminar in my video, The Real Jesus.
So I plan to try to meet with Crossan as soon as I read more of his book, The Historical Jesus, or at least the parts in question.
It’s going to be a hard read because Crossan automatically presupposes the validity of the source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism (and all the malarkey of the Higher Critics). He assumes the reader agrees with his liberalism and begins from there never bothering to defend his presuppositions.
He does so with a great air of intellectual authority.
“Listen to me, I am smarter than you.”
And surely he is.
“I am the expert. Listen to me.”
And many people do.
I’ve skim read the outline of the chapters and my first impression is that the first half of the book, which is essentially a historical-cultural thesis on the life and times of Jesus, looks irrelevant because he begins with certain presuppositions that I reject from the outset. “Jesus was a mere man, certainly not fully God and fully man.” Then he goes so far to left field with it that I can’t take anything else he writes seriously.
He is the expert in aerospace technology writing a book trying to convince me, a mere English major, why the Martian army will never be advanced enough to invade the earth. I am out plussed to try and refute him! I am a mere B.A. to his multiple Ph.D.s and fellowships.
I also read the introduction to the J.A.T. Robinson book today. He is a liberal who is actually worth reading. He points out to his fellow liberals that since form criticism and redaction criticism is based on source criticism, all one has to do is remove the shaky foundation from the source critic’s milieu and all the massive tomes of liberal criticism written in the past 150 years will appear to be floating on thin air.
Pair this with the fact that even most liberal critics do not take the Jesus Seminar seriously and you have a good picture of me, the proverbial eunuch at an orgy. I can’t get off on Crossan’s thesis not because I lack the mental capacity. I simply lack his grid. And I am glad of that!
Liberal criticism is an argument based on nothing. It’s conjecture on conjecture. And the Jesus Seminar is worse. And just where does that leave the Jesus-as-Myth position?
Nevertheless, if you are a Jesus Mythist, here is my challenge to you. Read 12 short pages of the introduction to Bishop Robinson’s book. Understand that this is a liberal who does NOT believe in the resurrection of Jesus. He was a mere man in Robinson’s eyes. “The only God is the God within you.” So he’s basically on your page.
He’s coming from a completely objective perspective. Yet he discovers that the liberal view of late dates for New Testament writings — 40 to 100 years after Jesus lived — are just a load of hoo-ha after all.
I find it fascinating that a liberal critic with nothing to prove came to all the same conclusions I’ve come to.
I challenge you. Read just 12 pages. In essence he writes that everything conservatives about the authenticity and reliability of New Testament scripture is completely valid and irrefutable. In fact, he “out-conservatives” us!
Any non-believing objective historian looking at the data would come to the same conclusion.
“One of the oddest facts about the New Testament is that what on any showing would appear to be the single most datable and climactic event of the period – the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, and with it the collapse of institutional Judaism based on the temple – is never once mentioned as a past fact.” – John A.T. Robinson
You can get a free on-line copy here:
P.S. I will still try to meet with Crossan only because I think relationships, not only ideas, are the basis for the kingdom of God.