David Madison has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. His strong interest in the Bible began during his teenage years, growing up in rural Indiana in a conservative Methodist home. His parents were not fundamentalists, however, and his mother introduced him to liberal Protestant Biblical scholarship by way of the 12-volume Interpreters Bible.
After graduating from Indiana University he moved on to graduate school in Boston. But seminary studies, which included mind-numbing courses in theology, proved to have a corrosive effect on his faith. This process of faith disintegration continued even as Madison served as pastor of two Methodist parishes in Massachusetts. As Dan Savage has said, he didn’t lose his faith, he saw through it.
He eventually made his escape from the church and pursued a business career. But his fascination with Biblical studies did not diminish, especially since the Bible is a self-incriminating document. He pursued theological reading as well, and marveled that serious thinkers could take it seriously. Sam Harris says it best: “Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance.”
Madison’s concept for this book gelled as he pondered the many negatives about Jesus in full view in the gospels. They’re not all that hard to notice, so it’s a mystery that devout Christians give Jesus a pass for so many of the bad, mediocre, and even alarming quotes attributed to him in the gospels. These quotes undermine the idealized image of Jesus promoted by the church for centuries.