The Jesus Inquest

Anthony Weber —  January 13, 2012 — Leave a comment

Charles Foster is a barrister and tutor in medical law and ethics at the University of Oxford. That explains The Jesus Inquest. If you are looking for a book about the death, resurrection, and post-resurrection appearances of Christ that is heavily documented and presented like courtroom testimony, this is the book for you.

Though this may sound daunting,  Foster’s approach works.  He designates two speakers, X (a skeptic) and Y (a believer), to present the best case for each side.    John Lennox has noted that “Charles Foster has managed to do what should be legally impossible: to combine the role of defense and prosecution.” The key arguments deal with the source documents; Jesus’ death, burial, and post-resurrection appearances; the empty tomb; and the early church’s perspective on resurrections in general.  The Shroud of Turin, the Jesus family tomb, and the Gospel of Peter get additional post-debate coverage.

Foster allows X to present his case completely and compellingly. No straw man here: Foster seems determined to engage with the best arguments.  Foster’s fairness actually makes reading X’s arguments a little uncomfortable.     But through the voice of Y, Foster gives us the answers to even the best of questions.  Historically, logically, and biblically, Y responds by tiptoeing through the minefields of skepticism, revealing a path to truth that broadens as the book unfolds.

One of the best chapters focuses on the origins of the Christian idea of resurrection. X gives quite the list of mythological stories involving death and resurrection among pagan gods. Ever since Dan Brown cited faux historians to make Christianity a cheap knockoff of the cult of Mithras, Christians have needed this type of apologetic to address some of the most common dismissals of Christianity.  While there are books that deal more exhaustively with this subject, The Jesus Inquest provides a more than adequate overview of the claims and rebuttals.

If you are unfamiliar with the different facets of the Resurrection debate, The Jesus Inquest fills in the details admirably.  If you know someone who is skeptical but open to a challenge, this book will acknowledge their position while responding with clarity and truth.

Anthony Weber


Anthony graduated from Cedarville University in 1995 with a degree in English Education, and from Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana in 2004 with a Master's Degree in Theology and Philosophy. Anthony is a husband and father of three, an author ("Learning to Jump Again"), high school and college teacher, pastor, blogger (,, and co-founder of etcetera, a "street-level philosophy group" in Traverse City, Michigan.

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