C. Marvin Pate, 40 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE HISTORICAL JESUS,
I must admit I was looking forward to this book. The last few years there has be a change among Biblical Scholars about the gospels and the importance of Q. I wanted to see if the changes are reflected in this volume. It is a large volume and covers a wide range of the subject. The subject is arranged in four main divisions:
(1) Background Questions about the historical Jesus. This is divided into two main sections, the first consist of 5 questions. In this section he points out that the reliability of the Scriptures were confined to the academic world. However, now it has slipped into the popular culture. This has been mainly the result of the popular secular Jesus movement by such works as the DaVinci Code. He confronts such results and falsehoods. One can still answer yes to the reliability of the four gospels. He also confirms that the gospels present an accurate description of Jesus?
(2) There are questions about the Birth and Childhood of Jesus.
Pate centers upon the truth of the virgin birth of Jesus. He confirms the historical facts of Jesus birth as recorded in Scripture. He takes an honest look at the virgin birth and deals squarely with the problems of such a view. He upholds that the virgin birth is a key to the incarnation of Christ. He includes a section of Isaiah 7:14.
(3) There are questions of the Childhood of Jesus. This includes his relationship with Mary and his brothers and sisters. He confirms that Scripture speaks of them in Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55. There are three views about them: Are they cousins? Are they actual brothers and sisters? Are they step-brothers and sisters? He holds there were brothers and sisters born of Mary and Joseph. He goes on to question the economic status of the family—which he would classify as middle class. And of course this subject would not be complete without questions about Jesus being a child miracle worker as conveyed by the apocryphal gospels. He points out two dangers as taking these as gospel: (1) the late date of the works which are from 200 to 500 AD. (2) They have agendas other than historical fact. Therefore they have no place in biblical study.
(4) Questions about His Life and Teaching. In this he deals with why there are four gospels. When Jesus began his ministry. The significance of His baptism and temptation. Who are the Twelve? The meaning of the Transfiguration. And the true miracles of His ministry. The history actuary of the passion of Christ and His resurrection. In this Pate upholds the authority, unity, and continuity of the Bible. All of these points verify the life of the historical Jesus.
Concerning the teaching of Jesus he deals with its focus. He upholds that it was the
, and surveys three
main views of the kingdom. He holds to an Already/Not Yet view of the kingdom.
He examines each of the gospel presentation of the teachings of Christ, showing
Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy; the Savior and Messiah;
builder of the church as its foundation; representative in the Church, and his
presence therein. He came to be the suffering Son of Man (not kingdom
of God Israel), and the opposed Messianic
While this is a good survey, Pate seems to be light in certain areas: Synoptic problems and its influence of the historical Jesus; He seems at times to be more interested in the theology rather than the historical; and more could have been done on the parables since it was a major element of the teaching of Christ.
Certain things are helpful including footnotes at the bottom of the pages, not endnotes. I hope publishers get away from the endnote, which is frustrating for this student. The book has a number of good charts, as well as questions at the end of the chapter. I appreciate the Ancient Source Index, and not just a Scriptural index. A subject index would have been helpful. The question and answer index will be helpful for the general reader. Overall, it is a valuable source for laymen and Pastor alike. It is informative, reader friendly, and a helpful guide.
I received this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”