Item description for Socrates Meets Jesus: History's Greatest Questioner Confronts the Claims of Christ by Peter Kreeft...
Overview Socrates, the great questioner, somehow appears at Have It University (think Harvard), and begins to, as he is wont to do, ask a lot of questions. His questions pierce to the heart of various issues, causing people to reconsider their beliefs. His interactions with the students and faculty at Have It lead him to different conclusions about life and its purpose than those espoused at the great school of learning. Apologist Peter Kreeft portrays both Socrates and the prototypical university in a fascinating manner, and the result is pure literary and philosophical enjoyment.Some would expect Socrates to fit right in with the university crowd. After all, it was Plato, Socrates' student, who first introduced the idea of an academy, a place where students could learn without any interference. But, at least as Kreeft portrays it (and he is not far removed from it, teaching at Boston College) the academy of today is vastly different than the academy that Plato (or Socrates) might have envisioned. Thus, the revived Socrates finds that instead of seeking after truth (as they should be in the academy), people do not even know what the truth is. He also finds that the highly educated may not be the wisest people in society (often they are not), and that things are rarely, if ever, taken at face value (many people think he is just pretending to be Socrates).Socrates looks at various issues, including progress, fundamentalism, miracles, comparative religions, and others. But much of his time is spent investigating the life and claims of Jesus Christ. At first, Socrates can not understand how God could become a man, although he acknowledges that it would be within the power of God to do so. To answer his questions, Socrates begins by reading the Bible to learn about the context in which Jesus spoke and what his words may have meant. His philosophical and logical nature allows him to find some startling answers to questions about the uniqueness of Christ, Christ's view of salvation and of God, and the truth of the resurrection. Startling to those at Have It, at least, for Socrates comes to the conclusion that if the stories in the Bible about Jesus are true, then Jesus truly is the Son of God and this should totally transform the way we live. Using the Socratic method (of course), Kreeft guides readers to the fascinating possibility that Socrates would have become a Christian, had Christianity been around then.
Publishers Description What would happen if Socrates--yes, the Socrates of ancient Athens--suddenly showed up on the campus of a major university and enrolled in its divinity school? What would he think of human progress since his day? How would he react to our values? To our culture? And what would he think of Jesus? Peter Kreeft, Christian philosopher and longtime admirer of the historic Socrates, imagines the result. In this drama Socrates meets such fellow students as Bertha Broadmind, Thomas Keptic and Molly Mooney. Throughout, Kreeft weaves an intriguing web as he brings Socrates closer and closer to a meeting with Jesus. Here is a startling and provocative portrayal of reason in search of truth. In a new introduction to this revised edition, Kreeft also highlights the inspiration for this book and the key questions of truth and faith it addresses.
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Studio: IVP Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.26" Width: 5.52" Height: 0.57" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date Feb 10, 2002
Publisher IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN 0830823387 ISBN13 9780830823383
Availability 0 units.
More About Peter Kreeft
Peter J. Kreeft (Ph.D., Fordham University) was born in 1937 and is professor of philosophy at Boston College where he has taught since 1965. A popular lecturer, he has also taught at many other colleges, seminaries and educational institutions in the eastern United States. Kreeft has written more than fifty books, including The Best Things in Life, The Journey, How to Win the Culture War and, with Ronald Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics.
Reviews - What do customers think about Socrates Meets Jesus: History's Greatest Questioner Confronts the Claims of Christ?
Highly entertaining introduction to Christian apologetics Nov 29, 2006
If I were reviewing on nothing more than entertainment value, Kreeft would get five stars and then some. I read the book in one sitting and can honestly say I was disappointed when it was finished. If, however, I were reviewing on nothing more than content and apologetical value, Kreeft would get three stars. The book starts very strongly, but the longer it goes, the more polemic and less socratic Socrates actually becomes. His glorious conversion in the last chapter leaves a lot to be discussed. The change from a questioning Socrates to a preaching Socrates is startling and almost breaks the flow of the story.
With that said, I would still recommend the book to aspiring apologists. If you've tried to pick up _Mere Christianity_ and have gotten a bit boggled, _Socrates Meets Jesus_ will probably be just what you are looking for. This, along with a bit of Lewis and Strobell, should make for good preparation for more heavyweights in the field like Craig, Moreland, Frame, and Habermas.
Given the book's introductory nature, I would only cautiously recommend it to non-Christian friends. As the reviews here have made clear, it is not a sophisticated application of the Socratic method to Christian theology. To someone even slighly educated in philosophy, that might be more of a hindrance than a help. Otherwise, don't take things too seriously and settle in for an enjoyable evening of a fun story!
A joy to read and muse Nov 3, 2006
The last reviewer was right-on. Considering its intended audience, it hits a home-run. I read this book several times, starting in 1983 and bought it several times to give to people. It's #1 characteristic is its humor. You cannot help but smile or burst out laughing at "Socrates" reactions to various things, especially in light of his being transported to a "progressive, 20th century age". The theme/idea is marvelous, and its treatment genuinely intriguing.
Of course I am a believer in Jesus Christ, but also studied Socrates from an atheistic English professor who introduced our class to the real Socrates in a fantastic way. Always lucid and sensitive. When this book was handed to me by a friend, I could tell, just by the concept of the book, that it had a more-than-likely chance of being fun to read. Well it was, and it is very thought provoking about what our world esteems as good.
Even if you are dead set against books which you think attempt to trick you into meeting God, this book is a fun read. Very witty, too.
Nice idea, same tired nonsense Oct 17, 2006
I picked up this book without any knowledge of the author's background or point of view. I actually assumed the book was going to be a criticism of Christianity (boy, was I mistaken). As a classics student, myself, I found Kreeft's convention of placing Socrates in modern Cambridge an intriguing,if totally cheesy idea. The story starts off fairly well, with Kreeft's Socrates performing modern variations of familiar feats of interlocution.
Then Socrates reads the New Testament and finds Jesus. Seriously, that's all that seems to happen. No justifications are made for this, no rational explanations, just Socrates saying, "I read the book and met Jesus." I find it difficult to express how un-Socratic the character suddenly becomes, and for no apparent reason whatsoever.
Imagine you're reading along in a Batman comic book. One morning, Bruce Wayne comes back to the Batcave after a hard night of crime-fighting. He sits down, drinks some tea, reads the Betty Crocker cookbook and discovers that what he really wants to do in order to defend Gotham City is to bake cookies. Dark chocolate cookies. He then spends the rest of the comic book explaining to Alfred how baking cookies is really what his murdered parents would have wanted him to do after all, and how the Keebler elves are a superstitious, cowardly lot.
Kreeft's Socrates ultimately makes two defenses of Christianity:
1) The apostles had no reason to lie. 2) The story _feels_ divinely inspired.
Without commenting on the validity of these arguments, I see no compelling reason for Kreeft to have had them come from the mouth of Socrates, as they hardly seem the sort of argument Plato's Socrates would have been inclined to make. Perhaps there was a chapter that Kreeft's editor removed which involved Socrates wandering the dorms and sampling various recreational pharmeceuticals. A stoner-Socrates might make such arguments.
Ultimately, Kreeft corrupts the character of the noble Socrates in order to make his weak argument regarding "the truth of the resurrection" seem stronger. If you find such intellectual dishonesty to be repugnant, this is not the book for you. If, on the other hand, you feel that cookies might be the one truth path to stopping crime, Kreeft may be just the sophist you've been looking for.
Great Book! Jun 19, 2006
First, I will address the reason I gave the book four stars instead of five. I have read and re-read Plato's dialogues (from which we get our knowledge of Socrates), and based on what I have read, I believe that Socrates would have addressed many of the questions raised by the antagonists in the book differently. Nevertheless, through his character Socrates, Kreeft does an admirable job of addressing the assumptions underlying the mantras and monikers bandied about by those who attack the core principles of Christianity (Jesus as God incarnate, the Resurrection, and others), and pointing out the need for such people to take the beam out of their own eye. The book is over 180 pages long, and should be read to determine its merit. As for those who don't like the book and attack its supposed lack of logical integrity and accuse it of fundamentalism, if you are going to post a review of this book, and you are going to make assertions about its (supposed) fallacies, please state not only the supposed fallacy, but an example of the fallacy from the book.
What will you do with Jesus? Jun 8, 2005
First of all, if I may get away with answering some critics. I was a philosophy and religious studies student at a secular liberal arts university where Christianity was not thought of fondly. I then went to a divinity school where I learned that not everything called "Christian" really is. Though I may not be an expert, I know what kind of things go on in the setting that Kreeft has offered, a divinity school.
If nothing else, Socrates criticizes modernist "Christians" who try and have it both ways (All the success of the spread of Christianity without any doctrine or personal piety). Now with regards to the critics, many of them use two words: "straw man" and "fundamentalism." The irony is this: anyone who does not want to critically consider the claims of Christianity calls even its basic, central beliefs (crucifixion, resurrection, Bible) "fundamentalism." Anyone who goes to Divinity School will (hopefully) learn that there have been Benedictines, Puritans, and Lutherans; however all these people had in common basic beliefs about who Jesus was and what he did. After a belief is deemed "fundamentalist," it is no longer studied. Fundamentalism becomes such an all-encompassing, and thus poorly defined staw man, that Christianity is considered easily dispatched.
However, it would serve such critics well to read the sociologist of religion Martin Marty's "Fundamentalisms Observed." In it, he dispels the popular notion that fundamentalism is the predominant mode of Christianity, and second, contends that many "conservative" Christians really aren't fundamentalists. In fact, this irony is aptly exposed in chap. 3 of Kreeft's book when Socrates concludes that the definition of fundamentalism employed currently is too broadly conceived.
Furthermore, this Socrates, for better or worse, is exactly the "gadfly" of the Apology/Phaedo, the eternal questioner. The central method of Socrates was to start with a set of premises and follow them to their logical conclusion. Aristotle later criticized Socratic logic in his "Prior Analytics," suggesting that premises themselves might have to be established from a more empirical basis, preventing an ad nauseam of logical progression. However, this Socrates is the very rationalist who Aristotle criticized. The exact reason for some of the philosophical overlaps between Socrates and Christians (theism, monotheism, ethical holiness of God) is still a subject of great debate; Kreeft just offered an answer to that overlap that displeases the philosophical secularist.
Perhaps the bottom line is that several critics don't want to acknowledge/consider even the most basic premises of faith. In this sense, they are ironically dogmatic. Either Jesus was who he said he was or he wasn't. This much is a tautology. We'll call it J v ~J. If he wasn't, it is because the Scriptures were untrue or the ones who wrote Scripture were deceived (argument in pp. 169-170, one critic stopped reading at 150). The argument is logical. What it really means is that Christianity is an all or nothing. You either accept it or mightily refute it as a lie. There is no middle ground of "Jesus was just kinda nice." The historical character and teachings of Jesus simply burned that philosophical bridge.
I guess my bottom line to critics is, just read the book. Don't read the book reading your stereotypical view of a Christian apologist such as Kreeft into the book (an inherently ad hominem read). Just take the premises as they come; avoid gratuitous emotion or subjectivity, try to look at the ideas themselves. That is the true task of the philosopher, and Socrates makes that evident, unlike an "intoxicated hippie" (to use words of a profound critic of this book). Socrates may yield to some foundational propositions that are occasionally questionable, but each argument he makes necessarily follows from the starting premises.
Whether you believe or do not believe, I implore you to look at the ideas and logic itself, and judge the book on this basis, not on the basis that this book is written by a Christian apologist. I think then you will realize one thing that both a secularist and I can agree on: Jesus was, and will continue to be, one of the most influential figures of all time.