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A Review Of The Case For Christ

The author of a blog I commented on offered to send me this book and asked if I would review it on my blog. Well to be short, I accepted the offer and that is why I am reviewing (sort of) this book.

First thing I will say is I am extremely glad Lee Strobel is an ex-journalist since it made his writing much easier to read than those two volumes of kiddie scholarship from Josh McDowell. The idea behind the book was a fairly unique one of a supposed “courtroom” investigation into the evidence for an historical Jesus. Unfortunately for Strobel, the book failed miserably as his bias shined through every one of the 367 pages of text.

Originally I intended to write on a few chapters per week but the text was very easy to read and I did find myself agreeing with one reviewer who said the book reads like a novel so I will be reviewing the full 14 chapters (15 with the conclusion). Sadly that is pretty much the only point of agreement I had with the book. Lee Strobel used to give parts of the book as sermons in church and was urged by his wife to compile them in a book. It would have been better had they remained as sermons and never written in book form.

Lee Strobel traveled across the country interviewing various Christian scholars (and only Christian scholars) on the evidence for an historical Jesus. Evidence that Strobel considered to be eyewitness, biographical, documentary, corroborating, scientific, psychological, profile, fingerprint (guess he liked the title of a DM Murdock book), medical, missing body, appearances, circumstantial and rebuttal (which wasn’t a rebuttal but an examination of the Jesus of faith being the Jesus of history). First thing you notice about all this is that there is no interview of any non-Christian scholar nor is there any rebuttal to the “Jesus” side. To use the courtroom analogy that Strobel seems to like, the prosecution presents evidence but the defense isn’t allowed. That isn’t a fair impartial investigation like Strobel claims. That is a biased piece of pseudo-scholarship.

One thing I would really like to mention is that for certain reasons that to me seem apparent in the text, Strobel either didn’t interview everyone he claims her did or he “embellished” the interviews after the fact. To be fair, I must admit that Strobel did in fact mention a few caricatures of  non-theist arguments but in a book where he dedicates 14 chapters (with interviews of Christian scholars) to the alleged evidence for Jesus not one interview appears with a non-Christian source. That is a glaring omission.

Strobel calls the gospels eyewitness testimony. I don’t even know how to address that because even mainstream Christian scholarship disagrees. At best what Christian scholarship (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) claims is that the gospels were written from eyewitness accounts. At best, that is not considered eyewitness evidence but hearsay. I am surprised that an award winning journalist didn’t know that but I am sure he did. It just wasn’t a good idea to shoot his own book down since doing so would have ended his book in chapter one. Anyway, physical evidence always trumps eyewitness testimony as the example Strobel gives clearly shows. To be honest, this is a really rocky start to a supposed scholarly work.

Strobel’s next two chapters deal with the “biographies” of Jesus but those chapters are misplaced in my opinion since the gospels are neither eyewitness testimony nor have they been shown to have any relation to an historical Jesus (the one Strobel claims to be the Jesus of faith).

The scientific evidence he brings up is archaeological evidence for an historical Jesus. There is no archaeological evidence for Jesus. There is some evidence for geographic locations in the bible but that in no way confirms the theology of it. It would be the same as saying, in the movie Escape From New York the city of New York is real therefore Snake Plisken is an historical character. Additionally, there is no convincing evidence that there was a Nazareth at the alleged time of Jesus and if there was no Nazareth, there could be no Jesus of Nazareth.

He brings up the medical evidence based on the gospel account of the crucifixion. Once again, the gospels have not been shown to be accurate nor have they been shown to be anything more than hearsay. To claim any type of medical evidence from this is just plain crank scholarship and to be honest I would be embarrassed by it if I were a Christian. After all, what good is faith if there is evidence? One other thing he brings up is why the “appearances” of Jesus after the resurrection could not have been hallucinations. Strobel even had a psychologist (Dr. Gary Collins) say that an hallucination is an individual phenomena and it is a subjective experience for each individual. Technically that very well may be correct but for a licensed and degreed psychologist to totally “forget” mass hysteria is to me an unforgivable omission that tarnishes his entire interview (this is one reason I believe the interviews were either not done or embellished by Strobel, he can however prove me wrong by releasing the interview tapes he clasms to have).

All in all, I will say this book was very easy to read and the “arguments” it gave will serve to solidify the beliefs of already believing Christians. In no way would this book convince anyone that is able to think critically. My next article will be a short review of Strobel’s other book (sent to me by the same blogger) The Case For The Real Jesus.

[tweetmeme source=”noreligionblog” only_single=falsehttps://noreligionblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/a-review-of-the-case-for-christ/]

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for taking time to read and review the book I sent.

    While we may differ in our conclusions about Christ and about this book, I will concede after reading your review and revisiting the book that your point about bias is right. It would have been good for the book to include interviews with scholars from both sides of the fence.

  2. If you were to check my blog more often you would notice that I am more open minded than you realize . . just saying.

    Its just unfair to me how anyone who questions atheism is automatically stereotyped as a hard core theological unquestioning follower.

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