The Quest for the Historical Jesus. Seems like a legitimate pursuit and in many respects, it is one. With that said, its legitimacy depends on how the foundations of the quest one embarks upon are established. For some scholars, this quest has been a journey of the discovery of the Jesus of the Bible with history proving His existence as Scripture declare. For other scholars, this is an opportunity to try and disprove Scripture at every turn and more importantly, their attempt to suggest that either Jesus never existed or He was only another good man of faith among many throughout history.
As can be expected with such a pursuit, there is a lot of scholarly hype that makes its way into print, either in books, social media, or news reports. With each supposed new “discovery”, scholars on both sides of the aforementioned fence utilize the evidence to support their respective positions. What is one to make of all the hoopla, points, and counterpoints? Thankfully, C. Marvin Pate provides a salient walk through this issue with his latest entry to the 40 Questions series from Kregel Academic titled 40 Questions About The Historical Jesus.
If you are not familiar with this series, the format is quite simple and highly useful. The author addresses 40 vitally important questions concerning a particular issue and in about 8-12 pages, provides a well-thought out, researched, biblically and historically sound response. Since this book is about the quest for the historical Jesus, the 40 questions zero in on addressing the quest, its impact on understanding who Jesus was and is, and most importantly, how we can rest assured that Jesus is exactly who and how He is described in Scripture – a real historical figure, the Son of God, our Messiah.
There is much to appreciate about Pate’s effort. I honed in one fundamental truth regarding Jesus I feel Pate did a particularly good job of addressing, namely His resurrection from the dead. While the works of scholars such as Dr. Gary Habermas are certainly required reading on the Jesus’ resurrection, I believe Pate did an excellent job of covering this topic. Why is it important to discuss? Let the words of the Apostle Paul sink in: “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14). While it is worthy to talk about when and where Jesus was born, His miracles and the variety of other subjects brought up in the discourse surrounding the quest for the historical Jesus, none of it is as important as Jesus’ victory over the grave.
As Pate aptly notes, “the question is clear and the stakes are high.” He focuses on two broad categories of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, that of the empty tomb and the post-resurrection appearances to a number of individuals. The various theories for the empty tomb are discussed by Pate and cogently reveals they are devoid of any truth. The only reality that is credible is the resurrection from the dead. Regarding the post-resurrection appearances, I appreciated how Pate used the statements by the Jesus Seminar scholars to reveal their own inconsistent approach and beliefs. Again, the only credible position is that Jesus actually rose from the dead and appeared in bodily form to the people Scripture says He revealed Himself to. Pate’s conclusion is worth noting – “Christianity is the only faith whose founder met with a totally different destiny.” What is that destiny? Conquering the grave, an action that gives us great hope in our own future destiny.
I highly recommend C. Marvin Pate’s book 40 Questions About The Historical Jesus. In a day when critics are trying to surmount a furious barrage of attacks against Scripture, apologetical arguments such as presented by Pate that are rooted in sound logic and biblical truth are important tools by which we can use to respond to the supposed scholars who desire to try and demonstrate Scripture cannot be trusted. We know otherwise and Pate reveals Scripture can be trusted regarding who Jesus is and most importantly, that He did conquer sin, death, and the grave.
I received this book for free from Kregel Academic and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”