There have been 3 negative reviews (that I know of so far) taking a stab at Dr. Hector Avalos’ scandalous new book, “The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics.” And they’re all hilariously bad. It is as if the heavens opened up and dropped us three nice clean clichés of three different varieties. A flaming atheist mythicist who couldn’t be bothered to even read the book because it took seriously anything about Jesus at all, a secular scholar who balks that Avalos doesn’t address his made up version of a Marxist revolutionary Jesus, and a Christian scholar who of course just can’t stomach even the premise of the book to even squeeze out a lick of substance in response.
So here we go!
1. First up is Dr. Avalos’ 1st and only 1 star review on Amazon.com (which has since been removed, presumably by the author himself so I don’t have a link to show you). A flaming atheist mythicist decided that Dr. Avalos was trying to swindle everyone by writing a book criticizing the morality of a completely fictional person. The scandal! I commented and pointed out that moral truths function just fine in fictional contexts and that criticizing the character Jesus’ perverse morality is actually much more relevant to our modern world than however historical or mythical Jesus may have been. Also, it was clear this guy hadn’t even read the first chapter of Dr. Avalos’ book (where Dr. Avalos states clearly he’s an agnostic on the issue of historicity and why his book matters) and apparently my comment prompted the mythicist reviewer to remove his review. So there’s a small victory. Yay!
2. Next up, we have the cliché exercise of lazy secular scholarship coming from Dr. Robert Myles (author of “The Homeless Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew”) who creates Jesus in his own image as a Marxist revolutionary. Isn’t that the first thing they tell you *not* to do in Bible scholar school? Or do they tell you you may use your academic powers to find whatever the hell kind of Jesus you want? *shrug* Nevermind that Jesus is basically an a-economical space cadet whose financial advice revolves much more around the end of the world being just around the corner and the magical thinking of how his god will miraculously always provide anything you need. Hence leaving your family without a breadwinner (as Dr. Avalos points out), not saving money, and blowing off evil governments makes perfect sense. Much like the earthly negligence of a Harold Camping, of course Jesus was a revolutionary! How *else* could that culturally woo-filled, cognitive niche in your heart of having Jesus still have some modern relevance be sated? I don’t know either.
BTW, Dr. Avalos has graciously responded at length to Dr. Myles here.
3. Lastly winning the award for one of the most immature book reviews I’ve ever seen, we have our cliché Christian scholar overreaction to the very premise of the book itself. Any book titled, “The Bad Jesus” had better have the subtitle “Why Immigration Should End” or someone like the Christian scholar Jim West will flip his shit and throw your book away no matter how sober and devastating your scholarly critique actually is. Given that there is literally no substance to West’s review, I doubt Dr. Avalos will be mounting a response. But feel free to point and laugh.
I was really hoping for better from *someone.* Jeezus. I’ve been working on my “Judging Jesus” material since 2010. And just recently Dr. Avalos published his “The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics” which amounted to a dozen or so extensive case studies on the rampant biases of New Testament scholars when dealing with a historical Jesus’ moral character (who just can’t find *anything* at all wrong with Jesus, but do tend to find Jesus of course speaking to their pet issues). Very helpful for me! You can read my review of Dr. Avalos’ excellent book here.