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The Jesus Inquest: The Case For and Against the Resurrection of the Christ [Paperback]

Charles Foster
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 11 2011

Charles Foster thought he knew the familiar story of the resurrection of Jesus. He thought Christianity rested on sound historical foundations.

But could he be wrong? Could Christianity be built on a terrible mistake or downright lie?

As nagging doubts began to surface, Foster turned to countless Christian books to find comfort and proof. But all he found were more questions. What began as a personal quest for reassurance quickly turned into an in-depth examination of the most astounding historical claim of all time. He crawled through Jerusalem tombs, dusty libraries, and the recesses of his own mind in search of an answer. He turned the war in his head—the war between faith and doubt—into this heated, no-holds-barred debate, which presents the case both for and against the resurrection of Jesus.

The Jesus Inquest takes you through medical evidence, Jewish burial practices, archaeological hypotheses, maps, ancient artifacts, the canonical and non-canonical gospels, biblical criticism, and much more, providing an unbiased examination of the facts of the case. A practicing trial attorney and University of Oxford academic, Charles Foster vigorously argues both sides of the issue, presenting information in compelling courtroom style and leaving no hard question unaddressed.

The Jesus Inquest gives readers the tools necessary to debate the most remarkable and controversial event of world history—a debate so crucial and fascinating it cannot be ignored.


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Product Description

About the Author

Charles Foster is a writer, barrister, tutor in medical law and ethics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Green Templeton College, Oxford. He has written, edited, or contributed to over thirty books.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily eclipses The Da Vinci Code Dec 7 2006
Format:Paperback
This is an extraordinary achievement: for something that's so well and comprehensively researched it manages to be a remarkably compelling and exhilarating read. If you've read the Da Vinci Code (or haven't) you should consider upgrading to The Jesus Inquest. This guy seems to have covered all the angles surrounding the death and resurrection of the Nazarene - the documentary sources, the medical causes of death, ancient Jewish burial practices, the Turin shroud; and also the various hypotheses about what happened to the body.... and there are PICTURES too. He's obviously done a lot of leg-work around the Middle East to research this. The format of the two barristers, X and Y, arguing their case in court and slagging each other off in their deliciously ungentlemanly way works really well. A great read for people tired of the usual one-sided pro- or anti-Christian fare and who want to get a serious handle on what might actually have happened 2000 years ago, without falling asleep at the wheel. Pugnacious, provocative.... and extremely informative. NICE ONE.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Easily eclipses The Da Vinci Code Oct. 24 2006
Format:Paperback
This is an extraordinary achievement: for something that's so well and comprehensively researched it manages to be a remarkably compelling and exhilarating read. If you've read the Da Vinci Code (or haven't) you should consider upgrading to The Jesus Inquest. This guy seems to have covered all the angles surrounding the death and resurrection of the Nazarene - the documentary sources, the medical causes of death, ancient Jewish burial practices, the Turin shroud; and also the various hypotheses about what happened to the body.... and there are PICTURES too. He's obviously done a lot of leg-work around the Middle East to research this. The format of the two barristers, X and Y, arguing their case in court and slagging each other off in their deliciously ungentlemanly way works really well. A great read for people tired of the usual one-sided pro- or anti-Christian fare and who want to get a serious handle on what might actually have happened 2000 years ago, without falling asleep at the wheel. Pugnacious, provocative.... and extremely informative. NICE ONE.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster Jan. 27 2011
Format:Paperback
I just finished reading The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster, and was reassured that, indeed, religion is based on faith. I was drawn to this book because I, like many, sometimes struggle with my beliefs. I have found myself doubting, and I have found myself believing! Charles Foster is an astounding man; through his studies, expeditions, and all of his experiences, he has confronted mankind's numerous questions.

The Jesus Inquest is set up as an ongoing debate. Foster uses evidence, maps, artifacts, hypotheses, gospels, and more, to examine all facts, and then provides us with the debate "à la courtroom style". The debate is presented with arguments between X and Y. X the unbeliever, and Y the believer. Foster definitely gives his readers the "...tools necessary to debate the most remarkable and controversial event of world history...". Was Jesus Christ resurrected or not? Presented with "an unbiased examination of the facts", we are left to discover our answer.

This is not a light read in any way; however, I'd encourage both believers and non-believers, alike, to read The Jesus Inquest. Foster does an exceptional job at pulling in all the evidence neatly; in the end it is an undoubtably interesting, and compelling read. I found that The Jesus Inquest will test your faith ... that can give you quite a shake if you are already questioning your faith! The included photos provide the reader with 'tangible' evidence, while the opposing views may leave you a bit dizzy. A Christian might appreciate how at the end of each case, it is reenforced with a 'believers' view' ending ... my question would be: how truly unbiased is that? Nonetheless, this 'theological study' is worth giving a valiant look.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Book For Yourself & to Gift: April 20 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed tremendously the wry wit and cogent logic presented by the author in examining the evidence for and against the resurrection of Jesus. I was sufficiently impressed as to purchase six (6) additional copies to give to my fellow members of the Ontario bar who also gave favourable feedback: some were Christians and some were not.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  104 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily eclipses The Da Vinci Code Nov. 7 2006
By Samston - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is an extraordinary achievement: for something that's so well and comprehensively researched it manages to be a remarkably compelling and exhilarating read. If you've read the Da Vinci Code (or haven't) you should consider upgrading to The Jesus Inquest. This guy seems to have covered all the angles surrounding the death and resurrection of the Nazarene - the documentary sources, the medical causes of death, ancient Jewish burial practices, the Turin shroud; and also the various hypotheses about what happened to the body.... and there are PICTURES too. He's obviously done a lot of leg-work around the Middle East to research this. The format of the two barristers, X and Y, arguing their case in court and slagging each other off in their deliciously ungentlemanly way works really well. A great read for people tired of the usual one-sided pro- or anti-Christian fare and who want to get a serious handle on what might actually have happened 2000 years ago, without falling asleep at the wheel. Pugnacious, provocative.... and extremely informative. NICE ONE.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well researched and balanced presentation of the debate: let the reader decide March 27 2011
By A Borrowed Flame - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Charles Foster is a barrister, part-time Crown Court judge and teaches Medical Law and Ethics at the University of Oxford. In this book he uses two characters, X and Y, who argue opposing sides of the case of the resurrection of Jesus.

It is a rather extraordinary book, in that he manages to really get under the skin and argue both sides of the debate. He has clearly done a lot of research both in terms of historical data and the advocates of both sides. This is no Lee Strobel or Josh McDowell apologetics.

There are sections covering issues such as the crucifixion (did Jesus die?), the burial, the empty tomb, and origins and expectations of resurrection belief, as well as issues such as the alleged 'Jesus Family' tomb. In each case X and Y both have their say, and Foster leaves it to the reader to make their own mind. X argues against the resurrection, using a number of arguments that anyone who has read Robert M Price or Richard Carrier will be familiar with, though he did put forward some that I had not come across before. Y argues for the resurrection and there are traces of N.T. Wright and others in there. However, Y holds a few views that some evangelical apologists may not agree with (such as arguing that certain inconsistencies in the gospel narratives are not able to be harmonised).

The appendices are very helpful and deal with arguments relating to the medical cause of death, the issues relating to the Shroud of Turin, and the Gospel of Peter.

One would be hard pressed to find another book on this issue anything like this, offering a broad and fair portrayal of both sides of the argument while leaving the reader to decide which they find more persuasive (it is testament to the author - or perhaps his barristerial skills - that he can actually manage to argue a view which he doesn't actually hold in a way which can be rather persuasive). If one is at all interested in this historical issue, and wants to see both sides of the debate via a work that has a broad and deep understanding of the literature and evidence, then this book is highly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is just the beginning of your questions on this subject March 22 2011
By Richard Dedor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For a few years now I have been looking for interesting books on religion that will guide me in my personal quest for understanding God and my place in religion. While The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster did not exactly fit that bill, it was certainly an interesting read for a life-long Christian.

Foster, a lawyer, does what few have attempted: show both sides of the Jesus resurrection story. With the death of Jesus two millennium ago, much has been made about the location itself and the tomb that Jesus was to have laid for Friday and Saturday nights before his reported resurrection on Sunday morning.

While he tries, it is pretty easy to get a feel for which side Foster falls on, and when it comes to religion, it is no surprise that we all have sides. Each side presents quite compelling evidence to support their claims and I must say that it was quite interesting to read about the history of the Gospels and the general history of 1st Century Palestine. Those were things not taught in Sunday School or in sermons I listened to for nearly 20 years.

What did I learn from it? I learned there is a lot not being talked about in regular religious discussions. In fact, after finishing the book, I got into a discussion about one argument posited in the book: that those who believe the Bible to be absolute truth must agree that somewhere there is a mistake in the Gospels. What?! Where!? The accounts don't match in relation to who was first to the tomb on Sunday morning and what they saw. I had never thought about it before, but it is true. Thus, we, and I have come to believe that because these stories were written down decades after the actual Passion events, not everything written down is accurate. And if that is the case, what else is just story? Tough questions that I have yet to find an answer to.
Why You Should Read It:

* It presents compelling - sometimes far-fetched - arguments for and against the story taught to millions each year.
* It tears down some of the arguments as to the far-fetched arguments about Jesus (that he faked his own death).
* It can deepen your faith or at least, force you to ask key questions (and it is okay to question!).

What You Can Expect to Walk Away With:

* More questions than answers.
* A desire to talk this over with yourself ... making arguments and rebutting them.
* I did also leave a bit confused as I'm not well versed on the Bible itself and the history of the time.

Let me just ask you this, have you ever questioned what you believe, no matter what side of the fence you fall? This book is a good starting point for those questions.

(*This book was given to me as part of the BookSneeze.com review program.)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Did Jesus really rise from dead? Jan. 2 2011
By Keith G - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What would happen if the resurrection of Jesus Christ was taken to a law court today? This is the premise behind the "Jesus Inquest". This book by Charles Foster attempts to fairly represent both sides of the "Did Jesus really rise from the Dead?" debate. The book reminded me of the constant debates behind the Jesus Seminar and the likes of John Shelby Spong and those who wish to counter point that group such as NT Wright.
Written on a much more accessible level than many of the more scholarly accounts on both sides of the fence, the author (Charles Foster), presents the evidence in an X versus Y mock trial. For many, their thinking will be expanded and grown and their beliefs tested. For others the book may stretch them too far and they may end up getting more confused or upset. Either way, Foster attempts to give an accurate, detailed and fair account of what really happened when Jesus died on the cross and what happened thereafter.
As a Christian, a strong belief in the reliability and inspiration of the Bible will be important as the two sides are presented. Without believing in the divine inspiration of the Bible and believing every account of the Bible to be historically accurate and true, I feel many will begin to question their beliefs while reading this book.
So, in my opinion, this is a fairly good read on Jesus' Resurrection, but as with many of the same type of books, it needs to be read with a grain of salt and deep conviction of Bible truth.
(Please note that the publisher of this book has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through Booksneeze.com)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Jesus Inquest March 21 2011
By Matthew Bedford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
X and Y duke it out in a battle for the minds and hearts of the readers of The Jesus Inquest. If you accept, as X does, that belief in the Christian is belief in a lie, and as both X and Y, that to believe a lie is a terrible thing indeed, you will fight wholeheartedly to convince those who believe this considered lie of the truth, as you see it. And Y is no less hearty in his defense of the same.

X and Y are figments of barrister (lawyer) Charles Foster's literary imagination. Two fiends for truth who wage epic battle through the pages of The Jesus Inquest, arguing and counter-arguing the aspects of Jesus' death, burial, resurrection, and subsequent appearances and final ascension using logic, reason, evidence, history, science, and any and all other tools they can muster There can only be one victor, and on the outcome hangs the foundation of faith for billions of people through history and today.

The book began as Charles Foster encountered his own doubts and need to substantiate what he'd believed regarding the epitome of Christs life and all human history. In the truest sense, his heart cannot believe what his mind will not accept. And so he set out to research and investigate, beyond the just-so stories of Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell.

As a barrister Foster is used to being able to see and argue both sides of an argument, and he brings this skill to good use through creating not a devil's advocate, but two characters of reasonable intelligence with deep grasps of their respective positions, their strengths and weaknesses, and the others preferred points. These two characters, X and Y, meet in the pages of The Jesus Inquest. The arguments from the anti-Christian X always come first. Some may say this weakens him as the final word always then goes to the pro-Christian Y. Foster wrote the book for his own purposes and this structure affirms that.

The Jesus Inquest is clear and readable. In creating the two characters as he did, Foster saves the book from being a simple tit-for-tat straight and dry comparison of facts and arguments. The conflict between the two holds the facts and arguments to a narrative which remains interesting and engaging.
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