Review by Dr Pravin Thevathasan
Case For The Real Jesus
A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks On the Identity of Christ
by Lee Strobell
Cardinal Arthur Roche has recently warned us of the inadequacies of Protestantism. However, there are some Protestant apologists who are surely on our side to some extent. C S Lewis comes to mind. And so does Lee Strobell. Lewis was, of course, an academic and wrote as such. Strobell's approach is more journalistic.
Strobell looks at six key questions that are asked of Christians : Are the Gospels reliable, and what about the non-canonical "gospels"? Are the other New Testament writings reliable? Is the Resurrection of Jesus a historical event? Did pagan religions influence the development of Christianity? Did Jesus fulfil the Old Testament prophecies? and What should we now in our sceptical age believe about the historical Jesus?
As in his other books, Strobell turns to the experts. Sceptics like to tell their readers that they have something original to say. But there have been sceptics from the beginning. What about the other "gospels" that have not been accepted as part of the canon of scripture? The expert Craig Evans tells us that the four Gospels were accepted as canonical very early on. In comparison, the non-canonical gospels were written many years afterwards. The gospel of Thomas, for example, was written in AD 175-200. The non-canonical gospels were also written a geographical distance away from where Jesus lived. Not so the four Gospels.
But is the New Testament reliable? The expert Daniel Wallace is an expert on New Testament manuscripts. He tells us that there is a wealth of New Testament documents available for us today, far more than any other book from that period. There are in fact thousands of copies, written in Greek, Latin, Syriac and Armenian.
Perhaps the early Christians borrowed from the pagan religions? Edwin Yamauchi, an expert on the Mystery Religions, says otherwise. A few years ago I remember hearing claims that Christians borrowed from the Cult of Mithras. But that cult was only in vogue after the New Testament had been written!
By the end of this book, we can have every confidence in Christian orthodoxy. It is written in a lively, interactive style that makes for an easy read.