Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Reinventing Jesus

Reinventing Jesus by J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace is now available for pre-order here. It is scheduled to appear next month.

Among the various claims in the publicity is this one:

'Contains more up-to-date data on classical and New Testament manuscripts than any single book available today'.

No small claim, but it would only have to be half true to merit purchase.

The most interesting section for readers of this blog will surely be chapters 4-8 of 18. This is how they are entitled:

Part 2: Politically Corrupt? The Tainting of Ancient New Testament Texts

4. Can We Trust the New Testament?
The Quantity and Quality of Textual Variants

5. Myths about Manuscripts

6. An Embarrassment of Riches:
Recovering the Wording of the Original New Testament Text, Part 1

7. The Methods of Textual Criticism:
Recovering the Wording of the Original New Testament Text, Part 2

8. Is What We Have Now What They Wrote Then?

I hope that several people will be able to purchase a copy early and give us an evaluation. It is certainly good to have some sane authors writing to counterbalance the conspiracy theorists.


  1. It looks like a worthwhile read. It looks like the subtitle may be apt to confuse, since the book apparently has very little to do with the DaVinci Code (although I don't know for sure, since the DaVinci code is pretty far down my list of books to read - somewhere below Left Behind, but above Misquoting Jesus). But that publicity blurb about having more up-to-date info about manuscripts is especially disconcerting, partly because it's hard to tell quite what that means (I guess it could be true since as of the publication date this book will be more recently published than any other on the subject), but moreso because it doesn't look like the claim could come close to being true; it's not an academic reference work after all. But to be fair to the authors, both of these points are the fault of Kregel I'm sure, and not them. My interest is picqued enough anyway that I want to read it.

  2. From a textual criticism point-of-view the list of endorsements is not particularly promising - not a single endorsement from a textual critic (mostly Josh McDowell apologetic guru types).

    Also the triple authorship doesn't inspire great confidence in the book (evangelicals, as is well known [and of which I am one], prefer unity of authorship).

    Resolution: wish it well but don't hold breath.

  3. Triple authorship of the Paul (+ Silvanus + Timothy) type is fine. Moreover, having commendations from well known apologists is hardly a bad thing since these are likely to help the book sell in its intended market. A commendation from a major textual critic would probably not have a similar effect.

  4. Pete,

    It seems that the intended market is probably therefore evangelical Christians who have heard of these apologists.

    A better strategy: find someone called Dan Brown (surely there must be hundreds about) and get a good quote from him!

  5. [Dan Wallace, just on the way to Patmos, sent me this response to post to the blog.]

    First, I want to thank P. J. Williams for posting the notice about Reinventing Jesus.

    To the comments posted, I’d like to say this.

    The context of the blurb about having more up-to-date info about manuscripts is that this book is written for a popular readership. In that respect, it is certainly true. Reinventing Jesus is current on the data of the on-line Kurzgefasste Liste (unlike virtually any other popularly-oriented book and some recent scholarly books) as well as on a few key classical authors. To be sure, there is not a lot of info on the MSS (just numbers for the most part), but the blurb is still accurate as far as it goes.

    It is true that no textual critic endorsed the book. However, it’s far from the mark to say that our endorsements are “mostly Josh McDowell apologetic guru types.” Darrell Bock, Craig Keener, Scot McKnight are three well-respected New Testament scholars. To be sure, they’re not textual critics, but they are much closer to textual critics than they are to popular apologists. Besides these scholars, Paul Maier, J. P. Moreland, Doug Groothuis, and Frank Beckwith endorsed the book. Indeed, the popular apologists constituted only a minority of the endorsers.

    The comment against triple authorship may have some value for a scholarly book, but I suppose that Bob Funk would have disagreed! So would Carson, Moo, and Morris. Even so, our book was not written for textual critics. It wasn’t written for scholars. It was for written for laypeople who are looking for some answers. Yet even here Paul Maier could say, “Though aimed at the general public, professionals can also read these pages with enormous benefit. I know I did!”

  6. thanks for the alert. I will consider buying this one.