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Evidence for the Historical Jesus

by Josh McDowell & Bill Wilson, Harvest House Pub., © 1993,
357 pages, $17.99 (paperback), ISBN-13: 978-0-7369-2871-7

The front page of the book of JobLong-time students of apologetics know Josh McDowell from his best-selling books More than a Carpenter, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, and New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. McDowell is a frequent speaker at college symposiums and workshops and has participated in numerous debates. This book focuses on the debate that has gone on with increasing intensity over whether Jesus did, in fact, live, and whether he was what he claimed to be.

This is a very academic book. Exhaustive studies have been done not only of those who offer positive evidence for the validity of Christ, but also the atheists, skeptics, and biblical minimalists who have tried to argue against Christianity. A good percentage of the book contains quotes from the enemies of Christ and rebuttals of their claims. The book is heavily documented, has a huge bibliography and a useful index.

The co-author, Bill Wilson, was the director of research and part of the McDowell ministry for 13 years. This book is the product of massive research and is exhaustive in nature. It is broken down into three parts. The first contains extra-biblical evidence for Jesus, including secular writers, rabbinical writings, early church leaders and martyrs, and agrapha, apocryphal, and pseudepigraphic support. The second section deals with the historical reliability of the Bible and responses to higher criticism. The last section has resources and discussions of popularizers of the life of Christ.

This book is an excellent resource for those concerned not with the existence of God, but with the validity of the claims of Jesus Christ. It is a useful resource for college students and those dealing with atheists and skeptics. For lay readers it would be a useful way to look up claims against Christianity, but would be difficult for armchair, superficial reading.