What do I think of Greg Monette’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
Greg Monette is a good friend of mine who is doing his doctoral work under Craig Evans. He recently sent me his book “The Wrong Jesus” and wanted to see what I would think of it. I am pleased to say that this is a book I can indeed highly recommend for seekers and those learning to defend their faith.
Monette starts off with a piece on why it is that history matters. He talks about his own journey into doubt and how it was that the only way to get past it was to study the evidence. He gives the wise advice that there are no shortcuts in this field. I fully agree and that is something that must be stated in our society today that likes to think that everything is right at our fingertips which should include understanding. Data and facts can be present immediately to us. The understanding of that data is not.
He also deals early on with the idea that Jesus never even existed. While I think he did a fine job on this chapter, I was concerned that Richard Carrier was never mentioned. It is not because Carrier makes good arguments against Jesus’s existence. It is that Carrier is much better known to the laypeople I suspect than Robert Price, which I particularly notice when atheists regularly cite Carrier in response to any scholar whatsoever.
From here on, Monette deals with various questions such as the reliability of the New Testament texts, the question of if archaeology has helped us understand the Bible, if Jesus was a femininist, were the birth accounts based on legends, and were the Gospels written by eyewitnesses. Of course, there are others, but these are all important questions to be asked.
In fact, a major criticism that I would have is that in fact the book is not long enough. There were many areas I would have liked to have seen more expansion on. Sometimes it would seem like I’d get enough to just get someone’s feet wet and then it’d move on. Still, I understand the book could have been doubled in size had my desires been met. Fortunately, Monette does make up for this by having recommended reading at the end of every chapter.
Also at the end of every chapter there is a section that contains questions for discussion. I find this to be an important aspect to have in a book like this and I would be thrilled if the day came that people were reading The Wrong Jesus in church small groups more than reading books by, say, Rachel Held Evans or Joyce Meyer or others.
Monette also throws a lot of humor into the book which I consider a plus. An excellent example of this is his counter-theories to the resurrection where he plays out humorously why the opposing explanations for the resurrection just do not work. There is a good deal of sarcasm involved here which is always a bonus for me.
One aspect that is lacking in the book is that there is no index. It would be incredibly helpful to be able to look up something in the index for future reference if anyone comes back to the book for a second time, which I would encourage that they do.
In conclusion, Monette has given the church an excellent book that is well-written and engaging and can keep the reader’s interest. More importantly, it’s filled with excellent information that will prepare the reader to go out and fulfill the Great Commission.