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Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence
Robert E. Van Voorst
From The Publisher:
Did Jesus actually exist? Much has been written recently on this subject, including numerous books examining the New Testament record of Jesus’ life. Now Robert Van Voorst presents and critiques the ancient evidence outside the New Testament—the Roman, Jewish, pre-New Testament, and post-New Testament writings that mention Jesus.
This fascinating study of the early Christian and non-Christian record includes fresh translations of all the relevant texts. Van Voorst shows how and to what extent these ancient writings can be used to help reconstruct the historical Jesus.
Van Voorst's style is both readable and objective, and he poses questions that more skeptical readers would raise, such as "Are these texts reliable?" and "Why is there not more ancient evidence for the historical Jesus?" In the process he supplies a wealth of notations for those interested in further study, making it an ideal primer for all levels of university students, as well as general readers.
In a well-researched, yet highly readable study, [Van Voorst] introduces the reader to all non-canonical references to Jesus…. Van Voorst helpfully analyses each reference in turn, situating each within the context of the work as a whole, asking from where each author derived his information, and evaluated its historical significance…. Overall, the book provides a useful introduction to a wide range of literature from the ancient world, a clear outline of the state of the question regarding sources behind the canonical gospels, and a particularly valuable discussion of the place of the Gospel of Thomas and certain Apocryphal texts in reconstructing the historical Jesus.
—The Expository Times
For those who would like a trustworthy and readable introduction to early non-canonical sources related to Jesus, this book should be placed at the very top of the list. The balance, clarity, brevity, and scope of this book commend it as a textbook for courses at any level. While it may be of special interest to scholars and students, this book may be strongly recommended to anyone with an interest in the contemporary study of the historical Jesus.
—Review of Biblical Literature
Scholars have tended to say that there is no significant evidence about the historical Jesus to be garnered from sources outside of the New Testament canon. This book shows that that assessment is by no means entirely correct. Here we finally have in one book all the essential extrabiblical data from the earliest period about Jesus. Anyone who cares about understanding Jesus within his historical context will find this well-written study to be an invaluable aid.
—Ben Witherington III
Jesus Outside the New Testament gives a clear, concise, and orderly presentation of the major sources — pagan, Jewish, and Christian — for our knowledge of the historical Jesus. Readers will be especially grateful for the way in which Robert Van Voorst gathers together disparate texts that are otherwise difficult to find in one place. This is especially true of his treatment of the pagan authors. Both scholars and lay readers will find this work useful.
—John P. Meier
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About the Author
Robert E. Van Voorst Professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan.
Table of Contents
Index of Names
Index of Subjects
Index of Scripture and Other Ancient Writings
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