And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:8-14 ESV)
40 Questions About The Historical Jesus by C. Marvin Pate (PhD. Marquette University) is a very useful resource on this very important topic. There have been books published that are somewhat similar for a more popular audience, but 40 Questions About The Historical Jesus is written in a no nonsense straight forward way sparing the reader from the type of sensationalism that commonly characterizes such topics in exchange for solid well researched answers about the historical Jesus.
The recent advent of many popularized books and specials on the Discovery channel warrant such a work to vindicate the historical Jesus from revisionists attempts to downplay our Lord’s historical significance. What makes this book so reader friendly is that Pate deals with individual issues in a question answer format, hence the title. The book is broken down into four parts. Part one begins with background information about the historical Jesus to lay a foundation if you will for what comes in parts 2, 3, and 4. This portion of the book might be found to be slightly academic as Pate deals with topics like the reliability of the Gospel books, Biblical criticism, the role of the Old Testament and its relationship to the New, and more. In this section I found his discussion of the apocryphal gospels to be very helpful and informative.
Part 1 lays the foundation for what follows. In part 2 Pate answers questions about Jesus and His childhood. Such questions had to do with the virgin birth, why the virgin birth is even relevant, did Jesus have siblings, and what language did Jesus speak. Part 3 answers questions pertaining to Jesus’ life and teaching. Here Pate discusses Jesus’ teaching, His central message, and an interesting discussion of Jesus’ prediction of the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 as well as His eschatology. Part 4 is a very well written treatment of the crucifixion and resurrection. Some of the questions that Pate answers have to do with the Triumphal Entry, who was responsible for Jesus’ death, why did Jesus die, where did Jesus’ Spirit go while He was in the tomb.
The book has some great features. It includes an ancient source index as well as a Scripture index. Pate also uses many charts to help the reader internalize data. What I also found helpful is each question ends with review questions making it ideal for group reading. The question answer format give the reader the liberty to read questions independently or it can be read cover to cover. Either way it’s a great reference tool have.
Personal rating is 5 STARS out of 5.
- Series: 40 Questions & Answers Series
- Paperback: 408 pages
- Publisher: Kregel Academic (April 27, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0825442842
- ISBN-13: 978-0825442841
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”