The Jesus Inquest Paperback – Jan 10 2011
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About the Author
Charles Foster is a Fellow of Green Templeton College at the University of Oxford. He is a qualified veterinarian, teaches medical law and ethics, and is a practicing barrister. Much of his life has been spent on expeditions: he has run a 150-mile race in the Sahara, skied to the North Pole, and suffered injuries in many desolate and beautiful landscapes. He has written on travel, evolutionary biology, natural history, anthropology, and philosophy.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.)
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)
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.