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Keeping It Real:  Examining the Logic Behind Biblical Text Skepticism
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Nicholas Perrin
Lost in Transmission?:  What We Can Know about the Words of Jesus (Nashville:  Thomas Nelson, 2007.  198p.)

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I have classified this as History, but with an alternative designation as Theology.  Perrin takes a scholarly but personal approach to the historical factors in considering the reliability of the early documents of the Jewish movement that became known as Christianity in the Roman Empire.  The currently-available 2009 edition is the paperback version of the 2007 hardback edition I own.

The author discusses the question of the transmission of the words of Jesus and the stories of the events that provide the context for those words.  He thinks through some of the factors involved in the culture and technology of the time since the first writings.  Perrin reflects on the oral nature of the culture of the time, how the original teachings would have been presented and learned then preserved by the oral community and shared with other communities.  He helps us think through the possibilities, how the texts were preserved, copied, stored and honoured.

He examines the logic of some popular skeptics and the questionable logic he finds there.  But this is not a theoretical discussion about an ideology of the Scriptures.  The real-world focus here is admirable.  This is a historical investigation that rediscovers some established but ignored clues.

Perrin does not present an academic, abstract and theoretical discussion.  He focuses on the real-life situations of the Roman Empire and the cultures of the first century.  He places the historical insights in their firm cultural settings and timeframes, attempting to refocus the rather free-flowing and vague innuendos of some current writings.  A factor in his insights is his own intellectual and emotional struggles with the components of the Jesus story.

Perrin's thoughtful considerations look back to his high school and college experiences, when he was considering the truths of life.  He refers to the people and circumstances that facilitated his doubts, insights and growth on his journey of faith and life.  These personal testimonials help us keep a real-world perspective as we evaluate the logic and perspective brought to the discussion of history by various writers or schools of thought.

This will be a rewarding read for most readers, and will provide some fresh insights by reminding us of some factors that are often overlooked in the modern dismissal of anything that is not new.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[review] The Gospels in their Jewish Setting
[review] More Oral than We Knew:  The Oral Nature of the Gospels
[review] Cultural Drama in Christian Beginnings
[review] The Jesus Hidden by the Church
[review] Jesus' Openly Secret Teachings
[review] Uncovering the Hidden Kingdom

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First reading notes written 24 June 2009
Review finalized 1 November 2009
Reviewed on Amazon 12 November 2009
Last edited 16 November 2009

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2009 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
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