Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
CTJ 5:15 (August 2001) p. 219
Jesus Outside the New Testament by Robert E. Van Voorst, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000, paperback, pp. 248 + xiv, $22.00
Van Voorst is a professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary (Holland, MI). The first section of the book presents a history of the research in this area, defends the historicity of Jesus, and states the purpose of this volume. The remaining portions cover an array of non-canonical sources, including classical writings (Thallos, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, etc.), Jewish writings (Josephus, rabbinic literature, etc.), so-called sources for the Gospels (L, M, Q, etc.), and post-NT works (the Nag Hammadi literature, the Apocrypha, etc.). Overall the book is well-written, and the material is communicated in such a way that the well-informed layman can comprehend most all of it. The author goes into some detail but the reader is not lost in a maze of data.
Despite these outstanding features, one must be wary of Van Voorst’s moderate (at best) bent. Few of his words were penned to refute liberal attitudes and conclusions. He will make a statement and then claim it is supported by “a majority of scholars,” making no distinction between conservative, moderate, and liberal viewpoints. The truth is not up for vote. He argues firmly for the possible existence of Q (pp. 155–174), yet places the dates for Matthew and Luke in the 80s. Two other troubling declarations are: (1) I Thess. 2:14–16 is “of contested authenticity” (p.188), and (2) “most Christians accept [the OT apocrypha] as canonical” (p.203).
CTJ 5:15 (August 2001) p. 220
Nevertheless, Bible students with good discernment will be helped by this comprehensive volume.
Charles H. Ray,
Jews and Christians by James D. G. Dunn, ed., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999, 404 pp., paperback, $39.00
The subtitle of the book is the parting of the way. The thesis of this volume, with twelve contributors, deals with how the early Christian and Jewish communities separated as Christianity grew. The book covers the period from A.D. 70-135, drawing from what rabbinical and early Christian documents and traditions tell us about the terrible period.
It is true that in some cases the split was progressive. Both communities were experiencing persecution. Some Roman emperors put both faiths into the same bag and brought about equal tribulation. However, this reviewer has several strong opinions against the book that go beyond the idea for this work.
The first contributor, Philip Alexander, rai...
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