A friend, or should I say former friend, sent along a copy of Hector Avalos’ latest anti-Christian screed and asked me what I thought of it. So, I plunged right in and after a few pages knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I wished to proceed further I would have to abandon sense and sensibility and assume a posture of ahistorical agenda driven silliness.
Avalos is, nonetheless, here at his very best. His very best. Because what readers find (at least in the first 10 pages or so- that was all I could stomach) is the same sort of ‘I hate Christianity so much that I’m willing to say and write anything I can to make it look ridiculous and all of its practitioners stupid fundamentalists who – unlike myself and my sycophant toadies – are enlightened and learned’ that he spewed in his extraordinarily hypocritical ‘The End of Biblical Studies’. If he had been honest at the conclusion of that particular foray into hate-speech disguised as academic discourse he would have resigned his post and taken up basket weaving or returned to faith healing or something besides academic pursuits in the field of biblical studies. But instead, he deemed it proper that he would continue to earn his living from a field he both despises and wishes to see destroyed. How’s that for intellectual honesty.
Which brings us to the point of his present book. ‘The Bad Jesus’ is – at least as far as I could stomach it – nothing more than bad method wrapped in badly enacted atheistic propaganda. Fair enough. Avalos is an atheist. Who cares. He’s got an agenda. Who cares. He’s not very competent as an exegete. Who cares. Avalos can write whatever he wants and say whatever he wants and his sycophantic fans will lap it up and spew it out like a dog regurgitates its own lunch. Who cares.
My purpose here isn’t to dissuade him from writing (as if he would simply because I wished it) or you from reading him (because, honestly, if you have such little regard for the facts and are willing to part with a good bit of money to do it, that’s your business). My purpose is simply to point out
- That Avalos doesn’t prove Jesus was bad- he only proves himself a bad expositor.
- That Avalos operates not as a scholar, but as an agenda driven activist whose aim is the end of biblical scholarship and the denunciation of Christianity.
- That Avalos’ book is not, in my view, worth reading (unless you’re already an angry atheist- in which case you will find him a happy ally).
- That there are much better, much wiser, much more circumspect, much more academically informed, much more insightful volumes on the subject of New Testament ethics than Avalos can provide given his blinkered and angry hate filled clouded vision. Even Richard Hays’ book on the subject is superior.
When I finished off Avalos’ book, that is, again, what I could stomach of it, I threw it in the garbage. I’ve only done that with one other book before (the rest I’ve sold or given away). That, in sum, in my view, is where it belongs. At least in that locale it can serve a useful purpose.
‘Bad Jesus’? There’s no way to tell from Avalos’ book. One learns nothing from it except where one left the antacid.