Jesus Under Siege. By Gregory A. Boyd. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1995. 140 pp. Paper, $4.99.
Jesus Under Siege is a popular defense of the authenticity of the Gospels and a refutation of the conclusions of the so-called Jesus Seminar. It is a summary of the author’s more detailed book, Cynic Sage or Son of God: Recovering the Real Jesus in an Age of Revisionist Replies (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1995).
The Jesus Seminar is a group of 74 scholars who have published the conclusions of their research in several books, as well as in major magazines and newspapers. They contend that Jesus was a Cynic philosopher who taught radical egalitarianism. They also decided by vote that 82% of what the Bible attributes to Jesus was not spoken by Him.
Boyd uses a two-pronged approach to refute the “Cynic Sage” thesis. First, he points out inconsistencies of that position with the existing evidence we have. Second, he presents the evidence for the reliability of the Gospels and Acts.
The fact that the gospel writers had a theological purpose in writing the Gospels does not preclude them from being historically accurate. Archaeology frequently establishes that the writers of the Gospels and the book of Acts were reliable historians.
The members of the Jesus Seminar rely on the criterion of dissimilarity to determine authentic sayings of Jesus. This criterion states that only those sayings which cannot be explained as coming from the early Church or Judaism are from Christ. This is absurd. Since Jesus was Jewish it would be odd if He said nothing that reflected His heritage! It would also be very strange if Jesus never said anything to influence the future Church which He was building on His teachings.
Jesus Under Siege is an excellent popular summary of the issues involved in the debate. I highly recommend this book to anyone desiring to understand the issues involved in the recent Jesus Seminar conclusions and their refutation.
R. Michael Duffy