Thursday, July 23, 2015

[Book Review] Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery by David Gibson and Michael McKinley


Philip reviews FINDING JESUS: FAITH, FACT, FORGERY: SIX HOLY OBJECTS THAT TELL THE REMARKABLE STORY OF THE GOSPELS by David Gibson and Michael McKinley (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)

Who is Jesus? This is the question explored in Finding Jesus. It's authors emphasize that the question must be asked in the present tense because there are hundreds of millions of Christians today who believe Jesus is alive and in Heaven, where he reigns over the universe.
Almost all that is known about Jesus comes from the Gospels and other early New Testament writings, none of which can be considered unbiased, impartial historical sources. Aside from a couple of short passages about Jesus in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus (one of which is likely an addition made by a later Christian writer) what else exists that can provide a direct link to Jesus and shed light on his life?

What the authors explore are six Christian artifacts that may indeed provide that direct link to Jesus. There have been countless Christian relics and artifacts that were proven to be fakes since the time of Jesus. But the six artifacts explored in this book are, the authors assert, "themselves of the natural world," which "have the capacity to take us out of ourselves, to transport us to a time and place not our own as we hope to discover something about Jesus that is not filtered through the distorting lens of time and our own desires."

The artifacts explored are: 1) the bones of John the Baptist, 2) the James Ossuary (could James have been the brother of Jesus?), 3) the Gospel of Mary Magdalene (really just some text on a piece of papyrus but the text raises the possibility that Mary Magdalene may have been the wife of Jesus, 4) the Gospel of Judas (this was a gospel from ancient times but one not selected to be one of the canonical books of the New Testament, 5) a piece of the True Cross, and 6) the burial shroud of Jesus known by most people today as the Shroud of Turin. It is fascinating to learn about these artifacts and to know that they may be direct links to Jesus and to consider what they may tell us about Jesus.

This is indeed a most interesting and thought-provoking book. I found it engrossing and I learned much about all of these artifacts, most of which I was not familiar, the Shroud of Turin, along with most people, I am sure, was the one I knew the most about.

To me, though, there seem to be too many questions about these artifacts and their authenticity, which are raised by the authors in their analyses of these artifacts, for them to provide the historical confirmation of the life of Jesus or to shed more light on his life.

But readers may very well find fascinating at what the authors believe these artifacts may tell us about Jesus.

Philip, Cordova Library

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