“Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander the Great, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of school, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.”
–Philip Schaff (1819-1893, historian)
The primary source of the appeal of Christianity was Jesus – His incarnation, His life, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. – Kenneth Scott Latourette (1884-1968, historian)
He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty
He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself
He was only thirty three
His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth
When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend
Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life
– Dr. James Allen, 1926
Opening excerpt of the book review by Brian LePort:
Message of the Book:
This volume applies the findings of memory studies—specifically social or group memory—to the field of biblical studies. In an effort to get past the black-and-white, either/or of form critical studies—where an event either happened as it is narrated or it is considered to be an invention of early Christianity—these authors ask if we might better understand the formation of Christian traditions if we examine the layering evolved when a group begins to “remember” events together, giving these events meaning, which in turn provides identity and a functioning social framework for the group.
The book is Memory, Tradition, Text: Uses of the Past in Early Christianity edited by Alan Kirk and Tom Thatcher (Semeia Studies; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005).
I have previously linked to this lecture by Peter Williams. Nevertheless I’m posting this link to Wintery Knight as well because it adds a link to the Q&A session (8:26) and also because it sketches an outline for both the lecture and the Q&A.
The central assumption of the 27 writings we call the New Testament, and therefore their implicit central claim, is that Jesus of Nazareth is the figure – commonly called Messiah – promised in the Old Testament writings.
Whether or not this claim is true and therefore worthy to be believed is something you can decide without having to first decide whether or not the Bible is inerrant, or even whether it is the word of God. You can just think of the Bible as a collection of ancient documents.
Everyone agrees that the Old and New Testaments are historical documents that have come down to us from antiquity. That is, no one thinks they are of recent vintage. As long as you think that the copies we have are reasonable facsimiles of what was originally written, you can make your decision about Jesus. That is, you do not have to read these documents as if they were any more inspired than, say, Homer’s Iliad or Thucydides’ The History of the Peloponnesian War. Nor do you have to think they are any more free from error than any other ancient documents. In other words, don’t get caught up in details (i.e. don’t major on minors). Focus on whether or not the central claim about Jesus is true.
If you do decide that the central claim is true, then you can examine what Jesus thought about the Scriptures and at that time make your decision on what to believe about them based on His perspective, which, no doubt, will have become important to you.
In classical logic, the law of non-contradiction (LNC) (or the law of contradiction (PM) or the principle of non-contradiction (PNC), or the principle of contradiction) is the second of the three classic laws of thought. It states that contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time, e.g. the two propositions “A is B” and “A is not B” are mutually exclusive. (Wikipedia)
Let him who disbelieves [in the law of non-contradiction] be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten and burned is not the same thing as to not be beaten and burned.”
– Avicenna (980-1037) [Source: Apologetics 315]
This guy Avicenna certainly knows how to make a point.
“Trusting testimony is not an irrational act of faith that leaves critical rationality aside; it is, on the contrary, the rationally appropriate way of responding to authentic testimony. Gospels understood as testimony are the entirely appropriate means of access to the historical reality of Jesus.”
– Richard Bauckham