From college classrooms to best selling books to the Internet, the historic picture of Jesus is under an intellectual onslaught. This fierce attack on the traditional portrait of Christ has confused spiritual seekers and created doubt among many Christians: but can these radical new claims and revisionist theories stand up to sober scrutiny?
- Superbly done
Strobel's narration of his own book makes this a delight to listen to while driving. It is like having a conversation with someone during which you learn a lot.
This is a subject I knew little about. Strobel interviews solid scholars in such a way that it is interesting throughout. A plus is that this is read by Strobel himself.
- The Myth of Pre-Biblical Myths
Lee Strobel has attempted in this book, to prove yet another case. In our modern world the common man believes, as a French exchange student once informed me, that science has shown us that there is no need for a God much less a savior because nature has created everything.
In defense of this common belief, many scholars have sought to prove that the Bible as we know it is a book of fables copied from other historical myths into an inconsistent, incomplete group of humanly devised books which only the most insecure people need bother with.
In this day of instant, around-the-world communication, what is proposed by one, is shared hundreds or thousands of times until many take the proposition to be factual.
Whenever I discuss such matters, I always insist on the author to produce “primary” sources. Unfortunately, that is too much work for most and too revealing of inaccuracy to others.
In this book, Strobel presents a very painstakingly analysis of the fact and fiction regarding the authenticity of the Holy Bible. He quotes source after source going back to ancient primary sources time after time to prove that the Bible is the most historically proven book of all time.
Strobel often takes the oppositional position when questioning Biblical scholars, challenging their ideas until the false arguments are completely disproven. One example which was new to me was the idea that other religious myths predate Christianity and the Bible “borrows” from those myths. Strobel demonstrates that there are only three instances that predate Jesus and those do not come close to being a parallel of Jesus birth, death as a sacrifice for our sins.
It is obvious that essentially all of the antagonists of Christianity would do well to actually perform scholarly research rather than repeat what they have read on anti-Christian blogs.
The narrator did a very good job of keeping the listener engaged although as with many books, I would have preferred that the author narrate the book himself.
I was given a free audio version of this book for my agreement to review it but this has not influenced my personal impressions of the book.
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- Full of Info - Worth a Listen
The author was the reader which put the advantage of him having passion in how he read the work. He has a slightly Chicago-sounding accent on his "a" sounds, drawing them out a bit , and his voice sounds kind of like the short bald guy on Princess Bride (especially when he's speaking for other people in the heat of debate), but he's easy to listen to.
The book is divided into interviews that he has with experts in historical research and theology. He spends a good two minutes describing each person's credentials. This is important so that you can verify he's using good sources, but it's also a snore to listen to. He basically reenacts a conversation he has with each of these experts over his questions concerning arguments people bring up with the existence of Jesus and the claims of Christians that he rose. Each interview ends up breaking down the claims as Lee Strobel plays devil's advocate and tries to ask any question he can think of that an outsider may press to argue.
After it addresses how Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John came to be the only books recognized as authentic gospels, it goes into how logically we should interpret variances and disparities within some of the texts. This book addresses Muslim, Gnostic, Mystic arguments and on its way to leading the reader/listener to the discussion's conclusions that because the gospels were the earliest testimonies of the events of Jesus's life, death and resurrection, and they were corroborated by witnesses living during the time the books were written, they are the most reliable sources of information on this event. Filtering out all bias and building off the minimal evidence (evidence that believers and non-believers alike have to accept as true based on historical evaluations), you reach the most logical conclusion, while along the way noticing that those arguing against it, have weak arguments supported by documents written hundreds of years after the life and death of Jesus, and often not regarded by scholars as credible sources on the topic of Jesus. From whether Jesus had a wife to whether the 500 who saw Jesus after the resurrection had delusions, it's very interesting to hear these points argued out, and I would encourage anyone who has doubts or questions about the viability of Christian's claims to try it out.
- Not a difinitive answer to historical questions.
Case for Historical Jesus Review
To be clear, I am a Christian whose primary concern is history. I am not concerned by claims that historians make or threatened by provocative questions, I am simply looking for answers in history that make the most real-world sense. By contrast, Strobel is a Christian journalist and author who is defending Christian beliefs that appear to be threatened by historical claims. In proper journalistic fashion, he seeks to refute popular claims that appear to undermine belief in Jesus as we currently see it.
This book asks some relevant questions about Jesus in history and is accessible to any reader interested, but it is not the consideration in depth or scope that I am looking for. Strobel says he tried to enter the debate as open mindedly as he did in “Case for Christ,” as an atheist, but the focus of the book is using Christian scholars to refute the claims against Christianity made by both good historians and those with an ax to grid.
This book is narrated in Strobel’s usual, interview style, which is an effective approach given the antagonistic nature of the content. He presents his questions and motivations clearly, he finds credible experts in the field of New Testament studies, and researches opposing viewpoints that represent what he feels are the main dissenting viewpoints against belief in a historically viable Jesus.
Each expert is given a thorough CV, a brief bio, and an opportunity to lay the foundation for the current section’s topic. Strobel makes sure it includes how and why they believe Jesus is historically viable and why our current belief system makes sense. Strobel then cross-examines them as a prosecuting attorney would do (or in his case as the legal editor of the Chicago Tribune) by attacking their main points with quotes and references from other scholars. Each scholar is then given as long as necessary to revitalize their major points by answering or refuting Strobel’s counters.
In all, it is an effective strategy. Several of the points made are timely, accurate, and useful. One such is the disparity between Dr. Bart Ehrman’s opinions that the errors in the New Testament manuscript documents make the text unreliable to its core vs. the low probable impact these differences probably have.
Despite the very excellent sections, I found it lacking for the following reasons:
1) He never interviews a non-believer, let alone a person who openly opposes Christianity. All arguments for the viability of Jesus in history and subsequent Christianity are made by believers. Everyone has bias, even people who are truly trying to be “objective” or “open minded” about the data presented. This is the same reason historians approach the Gospel narratives with caution – even though they are clearly the best sources of information we have about Jesus himself. The Gospels were written by believers, Christians, who want others to understand why he is the messiah, among other things. It does not discredit them, but it makes them less overtly reliable about Jesus’ messianic claims than another writing that does not promote Jesus as messiah. Each of these historians wants Jesus what is written about Jesus to be true. This does not discredit them, but it does lessen the “objectiveness” slightly. Strobel points out himself with using the “attestation of enemies” as a very powerful source of reliability when making the same point. Strobel does include tidbits about the agreement of skeptics but only through the Christian scholar.
2) In many cases – the interview with Dr. Edwin Yamauchi being the most pronounced – when Strobel asks a question that conflicts with a point just made, the answer is often, “no, that isn’t true.” No further questioning, cross-examination, or clarification. Just . . . “no?!” I found these segments particularly unsatisfying because of point #1, because we are simply relying on the judgment of the scholar and not the cogency of his reasoning related to the facts involved, and because the lack of detail makes it difficult to follow up afterward and research the point on my own. I am left with a felt need to go and buy Yamauchi’s books to try and understand, rather than having the means readily available here. Yet another thing I don’t have time to do.
3) The book center’s itself on the current beliefs of and attacks against Christianity. It does not question some of the more foundational considerations, such as the fact our versions of evangelical, protestant, catholic, or Pentecostal beliefs may not reflect the 1st century understandings of what Jesus meant by what he said in the gospels. Also, little allowance is made for the validity of certain claims against Christianity, such as the need for caution when approaching the New Testament with certain assumptions about chronology or our desire for the bible to be inerrant, infallible and authoritative in all aspects of the universe. Maybe Dr. Ehrman’s professor was right, Mark just got it wrong. Maybe the bible was never meant to be held up to an empirical microscope – as was attempted in the 19th and 20th centuries, causing reactions against questioning the bible that we are still dealing with today. Some of this is mentioned but not adequately considered.
4) There is no clarification that understanding history and belief in a certain theology is different. Most of the arguments made are cogent and understandable, but an unspoken assumption remains: if the favorable situation is allowable in historical terms (our current versions of Christianity) it is assumed to be the best answer. Jesus had to act in history or our beliefs are unfounded and useless. Even if we can show that Jesus doing certain things in history is the best answer, it doesn’t mean that our current beliefs are right about him. I do understand that this book is written by a believer for other believers, it remains an important historical point that should be very clear in a book that wants to address historical concerns.
I am glad Lee Strobel wrote this book because I appreciated his willingness to ask these questions, which many Christians could find too large or taboo to consider. This book will help people feel more secure in their beliefs against current climates, criticisms, and invalid arguments made against our faith. I feel that this sort of understanding is a necessary beginning for the Christianity of history to continue amid large skepticism and outright hostility toward any moral regulation. The answers about Jesus from our parent’s and grandparent’s generations do not seem to meet the needs of our current experience. I believe returning to the source is the only way to understand him for now and for the future, but I do not think that this book is the monumental or definitive work against historical criticism for which it could be mistaken.
Thank you, Lee Strobel, for creating this very accessible opening into the historical conversation.
- Real Jesus, by a real lawyer
As much as i appreciate Lee Strobel's intentions, his books aren't to my taste in literature. He seems more intent on describing his lawyerly genius in extracting the "evidence" than he is in the evidence itself. This is also magnified by his Chicago-type accent. i'm sure many people like this sort of thing, but i'm not one of them. i am glad Strobel fills that niche though.
- Great book
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had a lot to offer. I may have to get it in print to have at the ready many of the things it says about Jesus!
I could not put it down. Brilliantly written, coherent, and equally well read by the author.
Absolutely brilliant. Invaluable - download it NOW : )