A Short Review of Komoszewski’s Reinventing Jesus

Reinventing Jesus, by Komoszewski, Sawyer, and Wallace, is an evangelical response to both popular reimaginations of Jesus (Dan Brown, Jesus mythicists) and to critical scholarship (the Jesus Seminar).ReinventingJesus

– Great chapter on the inconsistency of the Jesus Seminar in their application of the criteria of historicity, which they use to determine which sayings of Jesus are authentic. The authors conclude, rightly I think, that the Jesus Seminar is really just throwing away whatever items they find in the gospels that contradict their preferred view of Jesus.
– I had totally forgotten that Robert Price, a Jesus mythicist, was a member of the Jesus Seminar. Oy vey
– Good discussion of textual criticism and manuscripts. More detailed in many areas than even Ehrman’s entire book on the same issue.

– Occasionally too caustic in tone. For example: “[Price’s grasping at straws to maintain his skepticism] unmasks a wholesale agenda of destroying the faith of Christians” (p. 101). To be fair, that’s probably an accurate assessment of Price. But, IMO, it’s unnecessarily jarring.
– The authors tend to engage with fringe writers (Price, Zindler, Freke and Gandy) rather than scholars, the Jesus Seminar being the major exception. Insofar as these authors are the most vocal and wield a disproportionate influence in popular culture, that’s legitimate. But to make a solid case for the reliability of the gospels, more attention needs to be given to mainstream scholars.
– Conservative evangelical claims are sometimes taken for granted, without what I thought was enough of a discussion. For example, the authors date the Synoptics to before 70 A.D. I happen to think they are probably *correct*. But this claim would be controversial among critical scholars and probably deserves a lengthier defense. The same could be said of a few other issues like the authorship of the gospels or the authorship of the epistles.
– Ironically, I think that Ehrman (an agnostic) is more convincing in his rejection of supposed pagan parallels to the Resurrection than these authors were!

Overall, the book was average. Some very good bits, a few solid refutations to ideas that are weirdly common but utterly bizarre (the council of Nicea turned Jesus into a god, etc…), and a few places that probably could have used more work.