Luke Timothy Johnson reviews C. Stephen Evans’ The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith: The Incarnational Narrative as History. Johnson writes:

Although Evans declares at the start that his book is “not really a work of apologetics,” (p. vii) it is best understood as fitting within that enterprise. Evans does not actually construct an argument to convince unbelievers of the historicity of what he calls “the incarnational narrative,” but proposes to demonstrate that such arguments are both important and possible in the face of critical biblical scholarship. As might be expected from one trained as a philosopher rather than as a historian or exegete, Evans’s case takes place at an abstract rather than concrete level. Indeed, the very phrase “incarnational narrative” is an abstraction that Evans calls “the Church’s story,” based on “the Church’s reading of this document” (i.e., the NT): “. . . an account of how the divine Word took on human flesh . . .” (pp. 4-5). This account is also called the “founding narrative,” and Evans’s task is to test its credibility: is it a “basically reliable record of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus?” (pp.6-7, emphasis original). The immediate stimulus for this exercise in meta-apologetics is the recent rash of Historical Jesus books (especially those of J. D. Crossan and J. Meier), but it is clear that Evans’s main target is the entire worldview called modernity, particularly as it is displayed in critical NT studies.

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