Author Claims Dramatic New Discoveries Suggest Historical Jesus Very Close to Portrayal in the Gospels
Hutchinson recently returned from a speaking tour in France where he spoke in towns and villages in Alsace and Paris to promote the French edition of his book, Searching for Jesus: New Discoveries in the Quest for Jesus of Nazareth (Thomas Nelson, 2017). He is also the author of The Dawn of Christianity (Thomas Nelson, 2017) and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible (Regnery, 2008).
In Searching for Jesus and The Dawn of Christianity, Hutchinson draws together recent discoveries in archaeology and New Testament scholarship to show that many of the negative ideas about Jesus paraded in the media every Christmas and Easter – for example, that Jesus was a violent revolutionary or an “apocalyptic prophet” predicting the end of the world – are now being rejected by leading secular and Jewish scholars.
Among the dramatic developments Hutchinson highlights in his talks are:
- The 2009 discovery of a first-century stone house in Nazareth that refutes those who say the village didn’t exist in biblical times;
- The recently discovered Hebrew-language tablet dating to the early first century that speaks about a messiah who would suffer, die, and perhaps rise again in three days;
- A young secular scholar in the United Kingdom who argues that the Gospel of Mark was written, not 40 or 50 years after Jesus’ death as many scholars have claimed for at least a century, but more like five or ten;
- Shocking new research that suggests the gospel accounts are based on eyewitness, possibly written, sources, not on anonymous legends that grew up over decades as skeptical scholars thought a century ago;
- New archaeological proof for key figures mentioned in the New Testament, including the high priest Caiaphas and possibly James, the “brother of the Lord;”
- The discovery in 2012 of seven previously unknown New Testament papyri – one of which, from the Gospel of Mark, that may date to the first century; and
- Jewish experts who say the Gospel texts reveal that Jesus was a highly trained rabbi, not an illiterate peasant, as some Bible revisionists have claimed.
“The problem with a lot of the research into the historical Jesus was not that the scholars were skeptical,” Hutchinson says. “It was that they were not skeptical enough! Too often, the scholars clung to outdated theories developed in the 19th century even when the evidence no longer supported those theories.”
As an example, Hutchinson points to the idea that Jesus’ early Jewish followers saw him only as a powerful rabbi, perhaps even as the messiah, but certainly not as divine. Recent scientific analysis of the New Testament texts has revealed that it was the very earliest sources of the New Testament, not the latest, that spoke of Jesus “standing at the right hand of God,” Hutchinson says.
Hutchinson brought an eclectic background and an open mind to the research for the book. He studied philosophy at a Catholic university, moved to Israel in his twenties to learn Hebrew, and earned a graduate degree in New Testament studies from an evangelical seminary.
Experts as diverse as famous Christian theologian N.T. Wright and Israeli scholar Israel Knohl have praised Hutchinson’s books Searching for Jesus. Secular skeptics also praise his books. James Tabor, the controversial scholar who claims to have identified Jesus’ family tomb in Jerusalem, calls Searching for Jesus “a readable and accessible overview to the complex field of biblical studies, archaeology, and history related to the life of Jesus.”
“Liberal and conservative scholars debate the details, but the basic picture emerging from the most recent historical research closely mirrors the story presented in the Gospel accounts,” Hutchinson concludes. “The conspiracy theories bandied about by supposedly skeptical scholars over the past century … that the Gospels deliberately distort who Jesus was or what he was trying to accomplish … are no longer plausible. Increasingly, even many secular, agnostic experts accept that the early Christians really believed what they say they believed – that Jesus of Nazareth was sent by God to save the human race from itself.”
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To see Robert Hutchinson’s speaker bio, visit the Harper Collins Speaker Bureau.