Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? (29)

I picked up and am working through Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?: A Debate between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan.  Since I’m teaching an apologetics course this fall, I need to read a bit in this category. This is essentially a transcript of a 1994 debate (moderated by William F. Buckley) with a series of supplementary essays by scholars on both sides of the debate (Robert Miller and Marcus Borg more or less on Crossan’s side; Craig Blomberg and Ben Witherington providing backstop for Craig).

Craig basically makes a two-fold argument: 1) that the resurrection as an historical event is the best explanation of a series of consensus historical facts [a) Jesus’ burial in a known tomb, b) the empty tomb, discovered by women, c) the post-Easter appearances of Jesus to his followers, d) the belief of Jesus’ followers in the resurrection despite strong reasons not to believe it] – which facts he argues Crossan rejects due to implausible assumptions (e.g., naturalism) and 2) an assertion that if the resurrection did not take place, Christianity is a fairy tale, a Peter Pan religion that does not deserve our adherence.

Crossan’s position is that the gospels show evidence of dependance (Markan priority) and several layers of tradition (history, early church tradition, the evangelists). He views this as supporting the notion that the gospels are quite creative and imaginative, justifying a distinction between the historical Jesus and the Jesus we know and worship. The gospel accounts are in metaphorical languages, so that we should not be treating their accounts as literal or historical. He uses the biblical creation story as a parallel. It does not really matter if the stories are literal or not, if Jesus is now for us the Lord and Savior. By the way, he denies he is a naturalist, but severely limits divine action to working within and through natural means.

There’s more, but this is a good review of some of the main lines of argument.


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