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The Evidence for Jesus [Paperback]

By R. T. France (Author)
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Item description for The Evidence for Jesus by R. T. France...

Many myths about Jesus Christ have been proliferated in the 20th century and before, and R.T. France uses texts from all sources to support the historical biblical Christ. From biblical sources, non-Christian sources, archaeology and more, the evidence is overwhelming, but France presents the information succinctly and comprehensively to provide a compelling treatise based on Scriptural truth.

Publishers Description
Was Jesus a magical cult leader? Was he a revolutionary that failed? Or did the apostle Paul invent him out of a mystical experience? And even if he was a historical figure, how much can we really know about someone who lived two thousand years ago in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire? R. T. France explores these issues by examining in detail the whole range of historical data-from archaeological evidence to other non-Christian sources to Christian writings both inside and outside of the New Testament. With candor and rigor he analyzes modern New Testament scholarship that challenges the biblical record, and sets out a clear and solid case for what the New Testament says about Jesus. This book is valuable resource for those who question or seek to defend the reliability of the Gospels. "It is difficult to praise this work too highly . . . It achieves its purpose of presenting the evidence for Jesus with complete success." Christian Arena R. T. FRANCE has taught at London Bible College and was principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, from 1989-1995. His many books include The Living God, Jesus the Radical and Jesus and the Old Testament. He is also the author of Matthew in the Tyndale New Testament Commentary series.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Regent College Publishing
Pages   196
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.53" Width: 5.6" Height: 0.49"
Weight:   0.59 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2006
Publisher   Regent College Publishing
ISBN  1573833703  
ISBN13  9781573833707  

Availability  114 units.
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More About R. T. France

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! R. T. France (PhD, Tyndale Hall) was a New Testament scholar and served as a senior lecturer at London Bible College; principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University; and honorary research fellow at Bangor University. He was the author or editor of many books, including the New Bible Commentary, the commentary on Matthew in the New International Commentary on the New Testament, and the commentary on Mark in the New International Greek New Testament Commentary.


Mark L. Strauss (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary San Diego. He is the author or editor of many books and articles, including How to Read the Bible in Changing Times and Four Portraits, One Jesus: A Survey of Jesus and the Gospels.

John H. Walton (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including A Survey of the Old Testament, Old Testament Today, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, and The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament.

R. T. France currently resides in Hereford.

R. T. France has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Jesus Library
  2. New International Commentary on the New Testament
  3. New International Greek Testament Com (Eerdmans)
  4. Teach the Text Commentaries
  5. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (IVP Numbered)

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > New Testament
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament > Study
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Apologetics

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Evidence for Jesus?

Recommended, but in some ways dated  Dec 10, 2007
I read this shortly after it came out in the mid 1980s. I only wish that France updated it. France's book, and another book by the exact same title, written by James D.G. Dunn, were responses to a British documentary that aired on the BBC a year before these books appeared. It was called Jesus: The Evidence. There was such an unfair treatment of the historical evidence, that two NT scholars, France and Dunn, independently set about to correct the record and lay out the evidence more fairly. France's book is the more conservative of the two.

Given that these books are a reaction to a specific documentary, it is in some ways dated. However, the evidence itself it not dated, but timeless. I think he could have made a somewhat stronger case, but he did a fine job. It's 1) a good first treatment for a Christian who wants more direct information about the historical evidence regarding the trustworthiness of the gospels or 2) another resource for someone reading similar type books, because he makes points that others don't and they make points he doesn't, so to get a more complete picture of the evidence, you'll want to include France's book.

I've read about a dozen books of this type. Still, F. F. Bruce's "The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable" never ceases to amaze me in how soberly, accurately, and yet briefly he treats the topic. Dunn's is recommended too, but not if you're very conservative, you'll get unnerved. Paul Barnett also has a great book this topic "Is the NT Reliable?" Leslie Mitton's out-of-print book "Jesus, the Facts Behind the Faith," is less conservative, but still makes a good case for the reliability of the main elements of the Gospels. Josh McDowell's books tend to gloss over difficult points which these other books face more squarely, and he uses the argument from authority too much (i.e., "this expert says . . ."). But I give him much credit for amassing a lot of information. Lee Stobel writes in a popular journalistic style that would appeal to a wide audience, but like McDowell, he's prone to painting a rosier picture than is necessary or completely accurate, and he uses the argument from authority, too.

Among all these books, France's fares quite well, and I recommend it despite the fact that it's 20+ years old. I think, based on 1 Peter 3:15 "Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you" all Christians should read a handful of this type book so that they can set the record straight as we interact with those who know nothing of the Bible or the historical basis for it. I'd suggest France's book be part of that handful.

(On the Old Testament side, Kenneth Kitchen's "On the Reliability of the OT" is incredible, but long, and Walter Kaiser's "The Old Testament Documents: Are the Reliable and Relevant?" is more digestible in length, but not as substantial or detailed as Kitchen's. Read both!)
Good overall review of the subject  Oct 8, 2007
France asks the question: What do we really know about Jesus? He sifts through the scanty Roman sources, and the much larger evidence from other sources. This is not a long book, but it covers the topic thoroughly and is directed to the general reader, not the scholar.

He reviews the fragments of gospels we have, the earliest dating to 125 AD. The first Christian literature from the period would be Paul's epistles. Paul does not give a biography of Jesus--since he was writing to people already Christian, that would have been pointless--but he does, in many instances, underline Christian dogma.

He also covers many of the major arguments between scholars regarding this evidence. I was especially pleased by his mention of "Redating the Gospels" by Robinson. Also interesting is the discussion what languages Jesus and his followers spoke. There is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that they were trilingual--Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

Other books that are recently published that deal well with this subject would be "Fabricating Jesus" by Evans and "Reinventing Jesus" by Komoszewski.

An Accessible and Effective Response to the Jesus Myth  Aug 12, 2004
One of the few full-length treatments of the Jesus Myth by a leading New Testament scholar, The Evidence for Jesus is an inexpensive and accessible refutation of that theory. Though The Evidence gives special focus to the arguments of G.A. Wells, it also responds to other radical theories about Jesus--not all of which are Jesus Myths.

France begins with a sober discussion of the non-Christian evidence related to Jesus. Most of it, such as Tacitus and Mara bar Serapion, he finds offer little direct evidence about Jesus. He then turns his attention to the Jewish evidence, providing a thorough discussion of the two references in Josephus--quite forcefully dismantling Well's rather dismissive approach to the subject. After one of the better treatments of the subject in a popular book (though relatively brief), France rightly concludes that "the skepticism which dismisses the Testimonium Flavianum wholesale as a Christian fabrication seems to owe more to prejudice than to a realistic historical appraisal of the passage."

After discussing references to the historical Jesus in the Epistles of Paul, France concludes that it is from the Gospels that we gain the bulk of the evidence for Jesus. With a scholar's familiarity with his subject, France moves through Gospel questions such as the genre of the gospels, the fluidity of oral tradition, the creativity of early Christians, theological motivation and historical credibility. His discussion of midrash is particularly relevant, showing that mythic attempts to cast the Gospels in such terms fail because evidence that midrash was ever used to invent recent historical episodes is lacking. France then provides an informed, yet common sense discussion, of the differences between the Gospels. Though by no means dismissive of these difficulties, he cautions that normal historical methods should be followed to address them. In short, France spends much of his discussion of the Gospels in effectively responding to the mores sensationalistic claims against their trustworthiness. Time and again France reveals the problems underlying the skepticism many cling to regarding the Gospels. Though the treatments are by necessity brief, they are concise and persuasive. Those looking to dig deeper into these issues will find that France's endnotes provide helpful resources.

Having shown that the Gospels were intended to be read as history as well as theology, France reveals a significant weakness of the Jesus Myth. Even if written later than the modern consensus, the Gospel authors' intent to write history combined with the confirmed accuracy of many of their references and characterizations show that they are better explained as ancient biographies of a real person who has left behind traditions of his deeds and teachings rather than an entirely mythical creation. All in all, France makes a concise and persuasive argument that the Gospels must be taken seriously as historical evidence for the life, deeds, and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Most Mythologists spend only a few pages explaining the Gospels away as being written late, claiming they contradict each other, or by classifying them as "midrash" or "fiction." Until they provide in depth scholarship on the nature of the Gospels' genre and sources, France's arguments show why Mythologists will remain in the margins of scholarly discourse.

The main deficiency of The Evidence is that it gives inadequate attention to the Pauline evidence. Nevertheless, given the scope of the book and the focus on the canonical Gospels, there is much to be gained by reading it. Considering the price and range of ground covered in a highly proficient manner, I recommend this book.

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