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Casey

Casey

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Published by Jim West
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Published by: Jim West on Dec 04, 2013
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12/11/2013

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 Maurice Casey,
 Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?
(London: T&T Clark), 2014.
1
 
The publisher summarizes the present volume thusly: Did Jesus exist? In recent years there has been a massive upsurge in public discussion of the view that Jesus did not exist. This view first found a voice in the 19th century, when Christian views were no longer taken for granted. Some way into the 20th century, this school of thought was largely thought to have been utterly refuted by the results of respectable critical scholarship (from both secular and religious scholars). Now, many unprofessional scholars and bloggers ('mythicists'), are gaining an increasingly large following for a view many think to be unsupportable. It is starting to influence the academy, more than that it is starting to influence the views of the public about a crucial historical figure. Maurice Casey, one of the most important Historical Jesus scholars of his generation takes the 'mythicists' to task in this landmark publication. Casey argues neither from a religious respective, nor from that of a committed atheist. Rather he seeks to provide a clear view of what can be said about Jesus, and of what can't. Maurice describes his book as
 a sort of sequel to
 Jesus of Nazareth
 
1
 
The edition I have is an advanced readers
 copy, given me by Dom Mattos at SBL in Baltimore over the weekend of November 22-26, 2013. As an advanced copy the page numbers I cite may not be exactly the same as the final copy, out sometime in early 2014.
 
 an earlier volume which examined the life of Jesus and what can be known of it. The new volume is comprised of these segments: Preface Abbreviations 1. Introduction 2. Historical Method 3. The Date and Reliability of the Canonical Gospels
4. What is Not in the Gospels, or Not in ‘Q’
 5. What is Not in the Epistles, Especially Those of Paul 6. What is Written in the Epistles, Especially Those of Paul 7. It All Happened Before, in Egypt, India, or Wherever you Fancy, but there was Nowhere for it to Happen in Israel 8. Conclusions Appendix: Latinisms The volume is dedicated to the very lovely Stephanie Fisher who contributed to its appearance in numerous ways. But is it any good? Does it serve a useful purpose? Or does it simply give
airtime
 to a fringe element of pseudo-
scholars
 who scarcely deserve the recognition they herein receive? In my estimation the answer to the first question is a resounding yes. Casey has an engaging writing style as all who have familiarized themselves with his earlier works will know. He also can
turn a phrase
. For instance: Blogger Godfrey uses the work of Kelber in an incompetent piece of creative fiction (p. 78). Again
 Doherty has taken over Kloppenborg
s version of these entirely hypothetical documents [i.e.,
], so he has drawn dramatic conclusions from the absence of things from
documents
 which did not exist until modern scholars invented them (p. 109). This book is a rip-roaring and irrefutable denunciation of post-modernity
s silliest assertion: that Jesus did not exist and was a myth invented by the church. This brings me to the second question: does this book serve a useful purpose? Again, the answer is yes. It is exceptionally important that scholars not be silent when falsehoods are foisted upon an unsuspecting and uninformed public. Put simply, silence is acceptance. Hence, when Casey speaks out so forthrightly about the folly and foolishness of the mythicists assertions
 he is doing what scholars must do: teaching.

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