For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Skeptic's Guide to Jesus
  • Christopher Cumo
Reviews Table of Contents Introduction «Back
Skeptic's Guide to Jesus.
Sound Bite
Western civilization was for centuries held together by the glue of Christianity, the religion founded upon the teachings and actions of Jesus� ' to the extent that it may be possible to infer them from the written record. This book has grown out of the conviction that the methods of history in particular and of the sciences secondarily have not been applied forcefully enough to an investigation of Jesus. We will scrutinize this written record and see how much we actually know.

About the Author

Chris Cumo earned his MA and PhD in history at the University of Akron. Throughout graduate school he focused on Roman antiquity and became engrossed with the ancient world. His knowledge of ancient philosophy centers on his reading of Plato’s dialogues. These concentrations have strengthened the breadth and depth of this book.

His usual research focuses largely on the history of science, so that he uses the methodologies of history and the Scientific Method daily. He has taught at three different universities and has written as an independent contractor for several publishers, including the ABC-CLIO in Santa Barbara, CA. Six of his books have been published.

Dr. Cumo is a member of the Ohio Academy of Science, the History of Science Society, the Agricultural History Society, and the American Historical Association.

About the Book
This book is part confession, a literary genre that goes back to Augustine, bishop of Hippo in North Africa and Catholic saint. Yet my agenda differs from his. Augustine lived at a time when the Christian Church was beginning to flex its muscles...
This book is part confession, a literary genre that goes back to Augustine, bishop of Hippo in North Africa and Catholic saint. Yet my agenda differs from his. Augustine lived at a time when the Christian Church was beginning to flex its muscles and make bold claims. Today we live in the "twilight of the gods," to borrow the title of one of Friedrich Nietzsche's last works. Religion as a general construct peaked long ago, probably before the Enlightenment, and is now in retreat. This period of decline and demise makes essential at long last a realistic treatment of Jesus of Nazareth. As an Italian by birth and upbringing I was early baptized into the Catholic Church. I'm not sure how long I might have held on to these beliefs, but then, at age 43, my mother died. I was 15 at the time and didn't know how to reconcile the notion of a good, just, loving God with such a tragedy. I eventually found what I believe to be the most probative way of examining Jesus. I want to know whether the Jesus of the written records can withstand the scrutiny of the sciences and history. This task will form the core of this book. A very long time ago, humans had little more than faith to guide them. I do not intend to write for this mindset but to entertain other methods of understanding what we call reality. The sciences, philosophy, and history will be our guides. I hope that their rigor will appeal to those who remain intellectually curious and open-minded.
Table of Contents
Preface 4 Introduction 5 Chapter 1. Toward an Understanding of the Sources 9 � The Sources 9 � Principles of Reasoning 9 � Method and the Historian
Preface 4 Introduction 5 Chapter 1. Toward an Understanding of the Sources 9 � The Sources 9 � Principles of Reasoning 9 � Method and the Historian 10 � Historical Methods and the Nature of the Sources about Jesus 13 � Naming the Gospels 18 � Jesus and Socrates 20 � The Method of Doubt 21 � The Canonical Gospels 23 � The Gnostic Accounts 27 � Pagan Sources 29 Chapter 2. The Birth of Jesus 30 � The Virgin Birth: Reproductive Biology 31 � The Logic of the Virgin Birth 33 � Bethlehem and the Birth Narrative 34 � The Larger Literary World 36 � Antiquity in the Larger Perspective 41 � The Absence of the Virgin Birth in Mark, John and Other Christian� � �  Literature 45 Chapter 3. Jesus' Childhood 49 � The New Testament 49 � Outside the New Testament 51 � The Infancy Gospel of Thomas 53 � The Gospel of Pseudo Matthew 63 � Emil Bock's The Childhood of Jesus 63 � Miracles and Jesus' Childhood 64 Chapter 4. The Ministry 65 � John the Baptist and Jesus 66 � The Temptation 69 � A Ministry of Miracles 72 � Jesus as Communicator 77 � An Odd Ministry 81 � Ministry and Anti Semitism 81 Chapter 5. Death and Resurrection 83 � The Last Supper 83 � Arrest and Trial 86 Chapter 6. Theologians and One Scientist Take the Offensive 98 � Wolfhart Pannenberg and Richard Swinburne 98 � Richard Swinburne 108 � Gerald Schroeder 113 Chapter 7. The Death of God 118 � Jesus, the Notion of God, and the Universe 118 � In the End 124 Bibliography 128

Pages 190
Year: 2016
BISAC: REL004000 RELIGION / Atheism
BISAC: REL006070 RELIGION / Biblical Commentary / New Testament
BISAC: REL006710 RELIGION / Biblical Studies / Jesus, the Gospels & Acts
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-1-62894-234-7
Price: USD 21.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-1-62894-235-4
Price: USD 31.95
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