While surfing the 'net, I came across an article that I thought would be of interest to those interested in apologetics. Carried on MacLeans.CA, the article is entitled Jesus historians get an earful from Maurice Casey.
Coming from the so-called middle, Professor Casey has spent a life-time studying the texts of the New Testament and has issues his own book about the subject entitled "Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian’s Account of His Life and Teaching." The article goes on to briefly say what he finds problematic with the conservative side (accepting "as historically valid such sources as the Gospel of John, which presents Jesus as fully divine, capable of walking on water and raising the dead, and virtually a Gentile, embroiled in constant tensions, not with scribes and Pharisees, but with 'the Jews'") and the liberals (the insistence on "mining documents of no historical value, including Gospels ascribed to the Apostle Thomas or Mary Magdalene"). The article concludes that Professor Casey's independent work finds a lot of facts that would make atheists uncomfortable.
Jesus was born about 4 BCE, and grew up in Nazareth; he was baptized by John the Baptist and called disciples of his own, appointing 12 of them as special apostles; he preached repentance, forgiveness and the coming of the kingdom of God in rural and small-town Galilee; his charismatic authority brought healing to many victims of psychosomatic illnesses, including the paralyzed, the blind and people with skin diseases; about 30 CE he went to Jerusalem, where the disturbance he caused chasing moneylenders out of the Temple led to his arrest and crucifixion by Pontius Pilate. After his death, Jesus was seen, in non-physical form, by some followers, including his brother James, in authentic bereavement experiences, while stories of the empty tomb and of his physical resurrection grew up afterwards to explain the visions inspired by raw grief.
There is a lot to chew on here. Obviously, there is much I agree with, but there are other things that I disagree with (the non-physical form resurrection and the healing of psychosomatic illnesses being two), but it is interesting that he has concluded that so much of the Gospels are true.
I publish this under the phrase "so-called independent analysis" because I really don't believe that his analysis is any more independent than that of anyone else. The article notes, "Since Casey does not believe in Christ’s divinity, [the Gospel of John] is an utterly impossible portrayal of the Torah-observant Jewish prophet he does consider Jesus to have been." But that is, in and of itself, a position that is not reflected in the texts. Throughout the other Gospels Jesus is revealed time and again as being more than a prophet. The failure to recognize or accept this is simply another bias that Professor Casey is imposing on the scripture.
Anyway, since he concludes that so much of the Gospel is true (a position that I hold), I may buy the book to learn more fully his reasoning for holding beliefs so similar to mine even though he rejects the very basis of the Gospels themselves, i.e., that God incarnate came to earth to save humanity from its sins.