Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 157:626 (Apr 00) p. 232
By The Faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary
Matthew S. DeMoss, Editor
The Jesus Crisis: The Inroads of Historical Criticism into Evangelical Scholarship. Edited by Robert L. Thomas and F. David Farnell. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1998. 384 pp. $16.99.
The essays in The Jesus Crisis attempt to defend the theory of the literary independence of the Gospels. The book goes further, however, and charges that evangelicals who in any way employ the methods of source, form, redaction, or tradition criticism have undercut the credibility and authority of the Bible, creating “the Jesus crisis.” These evangelicals, it is charged, have used a method of study that is the same as that of the liberal Jesus Seminar. The evangelical scholars charged are among the most active in the study of the Gospels in the last quarter century and are associated with a host of well-known evangelical schools.
In a summary in the book’s concluding chapter, Thomas insists, “The choice is clear. One can accept the ideology of H.C. [higher criticism] and view the synoptic Gospels as generally reliable with some doubts about particular points—depending on which New Testament scholar he/she consults—or he/she can reject the validity of H.C. in approaching those Gospels and have confidence in their full reliability. The latter position rests on the full independence of the Gospels in relation to each other, namely, three independent witnesses to the words and works of Jesus” (p. 382, italics his).
Some essays in the collection are purely historical and discuss the perspectives of those who, like Eta Linnemann, argue against the commonly held view that Mark was the first Gospel written and that the Gospels are literarily connected. These essays, such as the one by Robert Yarborough, are not part of the polemical side of the book and do not adopt its all-or-nothing tone. These aside, the book’s thesis and sweeping claims need careful attention.
As a whole, The Jesus Crisis displays a lack of discernment about the history of Gospels study. The book should have given a more careful discussion of difficult details in the Gospels and the views tied to them, especially when inerrantists critiqued by the book are portrayed as if they were denying the accuracy of the Gospels, when in fact they are defending it. But most unfortunate of all, this work argues for a level of historical precision in the biblical text that the Scriptures themselves do not argue for or require in order to maintain the history-
BSac 157:626 (Apr 00) p. 233
icity and verbal inspiration of Scripture. It is as wrong to make Scripture do too much ...
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