Monday, September 03, 2007

The Case for the Real Jesus

Have you noticed that every year right around Easter we have another "major discovery" that somehow sheds light on who the "real Jesus" was? A few years ago, it was the Gospel of Judas. This past year, it was the so-called "Jesus family tomb" in Talpiot. In the past we've had the Jesus Seminar weigh in on what Jesus supposedly really said and did. What's a Christian to think? Who is the real Jesus?
That's where Lee Strobel's latest book, The Case for the Real Jesus comes in. Strobel has once again crossed the country to speak with experts on some rather sticky questions. They are:
"Scholars are uncovering a radically different Jesus in ancient documents just as credible as the four Gospels."
"The Bible's portrait of Jesus can't be trusted because the Church tampered with the text."
"New explanations have refuted Jesus' resurrection."
"Christianity's beliefs about Jesus were copied from pagan religions."
"Jesus was an imposter who failed to fulfill Messianic prophecies."
"People should be free to pick and choose what to believe about Jesus."
I was impressed with the evidence that Strobel assembled. I especially appreciated the work that he did on the first two challenges about ancient texts and the idea that the Church changed what the Bible said. I hear those ideas thrown around a lot and they bug me because they simply aren't true, yet people keep trumpeting those ideas as if they're (pardon the pun) gospel.
What makes this book a nice read is that Strobel keeps the discussion accessible. This isn't a book filled with scholarly diatribes and thirty-dollar theological terminology. It's a good entry-level discussion of the issues. It's good to get the general gist of what it's all about.
On a personal note, I was tickled to see Randall Ingermanson quoted for his statistical ananlysis of the Talpiot ossuaries. I also laughed whenever I encountered quotes from Dr. Paul Maier (Lee, if you ever stumble into my blog and see this, be sure to interview Dr. Maier for a future book! He'd be a worthy addition to your cavalcade of Biblical scholars).
At any rate, if you want a sober judgment of recent developments in the search for the so-called "historical Jesus," you can't go wrong by reading this book.

No comments: