Just when I thought I was done reading books on the Resurrection, I came across this statement on Debunking Christianity blog:
Not too long ago I [John Loftus] challenged him [Christian apologist, Dr. Vincent Torley] to read Michael J. Alter’s book Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry as the best book on the resurrection, by far. He read it. Alter’s book changed his mind. Torley offered three reasons why he changed his mind about the resurrection and credited me with the first one! He now says:
It is not often that I encounter a book which forces me to undergo a fundamental rethink on a vital issue. Michael Alter’s The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry is one such book. The issue it addresses is whether the New Testament provides good evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead. Prior to reading Michael Alter’s book, I believed that a Christian could make a strong case for Jesus’ having been raised from the dead, on purely historical grounds. After reading the book, I would no longer espouse this view. Alter has convincingly demolished Christian apologists’ case for the Resurrection – and he’s got another book coming out soon, which is even more hard-hitting than his first one, judging from the excerpts which I’ve read.
Diehard skeptics will of course dismiss the Resurrection as fiction because they reject the very idea of the supernatural, but Michael Alter, a Jewish author who has spent more than a decade researching the Resurrection, isn’t one of these skeptics. Alter willingly grants for the sake of argument the existence of a personal God Who works miracles and Who has revealed Himself in the Hebrew Bible. Despite these generous concessions to his Christian opponents, I have to say that Alter’s book is the most devastating critique of the case for the Resurrection that I have ever read….reading Alter’s book will make you realize that what historians know about Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and post-mortem appearances to his disciples is very little: far too little for a Christian to base their belief in the reality of Jesus’ Resurrection on the historical evidence alone. I now believe that only the grace of God could possibly justify making such an intellectual commitment.
Gary: Wow! A Christian apologist goes on record stating that a book on the Resurrection written by a Jewish author has dramatically changed his mind on the strength of the evidence for this alleged event!
I’ve got to read it!
So that is what I am doing. I will post any interesting items I come across. I’m not going to do a chapter by chapter review as I have done for other books. It is a thick book: Almost 800 pages!
In the preface to the book, the author gives a poignant quote by the late New Testament scholar, E.P. Sanders:
Research deals with probabilities, and it should not be able to either create or destroy faith; at its best, it can inform faith. Its actual task is to illuminate the early period of the Christian movement for interested believers and unbelievers alike. Scholarship that aims at either supporting or damaging faith is, in my view, not true scholarship. Scholarship should be “disinterested”, not the servant of a preferred set of conclusions.
Oh, if William Lane Craig, Michael Licona, Gary Habermas, and other conservative Christian “scholars” would only follow that advice.