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ISBN 978-0-8126-9656-1


384 pages

Spring 2009

Cutting Jesus Down to Size

What Higher Criticism Has Achieved and Where It Leaves Christianity

G. A. Wells

Is higher criticism a hoax inspired by Satan? Or does it help us understand the true significance of the Bible?

Whereas lower criticism tries to arrive at the most authentic possible text of the various books of the Bible, higher criticism goes further, questioning the historical origins of these books by trying to uncover the ways they reflect the varying preoccupations and influences of their authors. The results of such investigations are rejected by conservative Christians, who conceive of scripture not as historical documents but as the infallible Word of God.

In Cutting Jesus Down to Size, distinguished higher critic G.A. Wells does three things: he clearly explains the reasoning of the higher critics, showing why they arrive at the conclusions they do; he tells the story of higher criticism from its beginnings in the eighteenth century down to the latest scholarly discussions; and he replies to the conservative backlash against higher criticism.

“What a book! G.A. Wells shows that the best friend of the Bible is the one who understands it, not the one who grovels before it. Cutting Jesus Down to Size, reviewing and defending the solid gains of New Testament criticism, is ‘quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword’ in dissecting the bad arguments and silly posturing of today’s Christian apologists. Wells demonstrates once again that what is called ‘radicalism’ may be simple common sense, once one removes one’s blinders.”

—Robert M. Price, Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies at Johnnie Coleman Theological Seminary, and author of Inerrant the Wind

“In these highly informative chapters, G.A. Wells is at his best—thorough, insightful, and engrossing. The range of scholars he engages is impressive, from Strauss to N.T. Wright. Calmly transcending polemics, Wells gives the issues, the texts, and his fellow scholars the respect and studious attention they and he richly deserve.”

— Joe E. Barnhart, author of In Search of First-Century Christianity

“Most scholars can no longer accept that the gospels are ‘gospel truth’, and in this detailed and closely argued book George Wells shows us why. He expertly surveys the two centuries of surgical scholarship by the Higher Critics that has not just cut Jesus down to size but into pieces. This is an important and authoritative work that deserves to be widely read.”

— Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, authors of The Jesus Mysteries

George Albert Wells is Professor Emeritus of German at the University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the origins of Christianity and on German intellectual history.

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