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Is the Bible True?: How Modern Debates and Discoveries Affirm the Essence of the Scriptures [Paperback]

Jeffrey L. Sheler
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; New e. edition (1 Oct 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006067542X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060675424
  • Product Dimensions: 22.7 x 16.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,922,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

What this book is not: a partisan (Jewish or Christian) account declaring the absolute historical accuracy of the Bible. What it is: a fair-minded exploration of the question of the Bible's historical truth. Author Jeffrey Sheler is a journalist (religion correspondent for US News and World Report) who relies extensively on interviews, onsite reports from Israel and Egypt, and a lot of library research. Instead of claiming to offer any startling breakthroughs, the book gives the reader an even-handed treatment of this immensely controversial text. In a style that is clear and conversational, Sheler walks the reader through key moments in the Hebrew Bible and in the New Testament, exploring the grounds for the historical truth behind such figures as Abraham, Moses and David, and behind such scriptural accounts as the Flood and the Exodus. Sheler retells the astonishing story of the discovery of the Qumran (Dead Sea) scrolls, and explores their significance for our understanding of first-century Judaism and early Christianity. He also discusses at length the work of the controversial Jesus Seminar scholars. His own conclusions, while not fundamentalist, are also not deconstructive: "After all of the scholarly scrutiny", he writes, "the Bible emerges affirmed but not unscathed, a credible but complex chronicle of humanity's encounter with God". --Doug Thorpe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


In this lucid, insightful work, U.S. News & World Report religion writer Jeffrey L. Sheler draws upon years of investigation and in-depth interviews to tackle such controversial subjects as the recent Jesus Seminar, modern biblical archaeology, the "Dead Sea Scrolls", and the mysterious Bible codes. This solid exploration into some of the thorniest aspects of current debates about the Bible and religion concludes with a message of reassurance about historical accuracy, validity, and integrity of the Scriptures. Sheler's bold but balanced investigation discloses a Bible still worthy of belief in a modern age. In this authoritative book, renowned U.S. News & World Report religion writer Jeffrey L. Sheler sifts through the claims and counterclaims of contemporary biblical studies. After carefully investigating the full spectrum of cutting-edge research and conflicting reports, he challenges the popular perception that the credibility of the Bible has been seriously undermined by critical scholarship. Rather, he concludes that the weight of the historical evidence upholds the essential truth of Exodus, the Gospel accounts of Jesus, and other vital elements of the Bible. The author draws extensively from his own interviews with leading Bible experts and on-site reports from Israel and Egypt in his examination of scholarship's hot-button issues, including: dramatic archaeological discoveries that both affirm and challenge the history in the Bible; the controversial quest for the historical Jesus and its sometimes flawed arguments and skeptical assumptions regarding the reliability of the Gospels; the amazing revelations of the "Dead Sea Scrolls" and other ancient texts that profoundly influence our understanding of the Bible; and the mysterious phenomenon of The Bible Code and why there may be far less to its doomsday prophesies than meets the eye. Sheler's considerable experience as a leading religion journalist enables him to get to the heart of the issues without the jargon. Written in clear, compelling prose, "Is the Bible True?" presents a sophisticated analysis informed by important scholarly work in lucid, accessible terms.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nicely objective 17 Feb 2003
I found this book gave a well balanced viewpoint without obvious bias. The historical and archaeological content was interesting and there was plenty of it. I particularly liked the fact that the author's personal views didn't come across strongly as books like this are often spoilt by the author having a firmly held and usually extreme view - either every word is divine or every word is rubbish. This book was a refreshing change. I expected it to beinformative but hard going, and I couldn't have been more wrong. It was very interesting, with an eay to read style, and I found the parts about the early Christian church and other sects of the time very interesting, which I hadn't expected at all. Definitely recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Readable 3 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am still reading this book but very easy to read .I cant comment at the moment about the content.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An encouragement to my faith 2 Dec 1999
By Carl A. Dixon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. I was prepared for it to be full of sloppy thinking and predjudiced conclusions. I commend the author for his evenhanded evaluation of the Bible. I was especially encouraged by the section on archeology. This book should cause anyone to want to read the Bible directly regardless of thier religious views.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very respectful look at "objective" evidence of the Bible. 5 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book takes the approach that the Bible can (and perhaps should) be considered in the same manner as any other ancient text. The author points out that this often is not what happens; rather that (often in the service of their own prejudices) scholars hold a double standard which demands more of Biblical text than other contemporaneous writings. The whole presentation of this book was refreshing in the respect that it paid to the three major monotheistic religions of the Middle East, and especially so the Christian tradition. Whereas many current writers seem intent on "debunking" religious belief, this book can, and does, strengthen one's faith. The archeological and historical support for Biblical scriptures is presented in a manner that can be understood easily, historiographical issues are raised and discussed, and when the evidence simply is not there (in either direction) the author says so. As a Christian, I appreciated Mr. Sheler's respect. As an educated man (doctorate and practicing psychologist) I appreciate the intelligence Mr. Sheler brought to the table. This was a very difficult task that was done well!
43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overall Good and Helpful 11 May 2000
By Leonard R Budney - Published on Amazon.com
Sheler's book is generally good and helpful. He discusses many ways in which archaeology support the Bible record--both by direct evidence, and by proving that the Bible accurately reflects the time in which it was written. The book will definitely give you a new appreciation for the accuracy of the Bible!
Sheler also does us a favor when he shows how misguided the hardened critics are (on one hand), and mystical kooks (on the other). For example, hardened critics believed there was no David, no Sargon, and no Nebuchadnezzar--until archaeologists found evidence of all three. On the other hand, mystical kooks continually dish up silliness like the Dead Sea Scrolls conspiracy theories: suggesting that the scrolls are being held secret because they would completely disprove the New Testament, etc.. Other kooky ideas include ``Bible Code'' theories and the modern gnostic ideas, which suggest that the ``real message'' of the Bible is in the form of a secret message.
Sheler's book has its weaknesses, though. He tries to be a little too glib. He dismisses the Bible a little lightly at times, suggesting that ``only serious fundamentalists'' take this or that portion of the Bible seriously. It makes him shoot low: he is content to prove that the Bible is ``generally accurate'' while at the same time leaving the impression that the Bible has often botched the details.
Overall, the book is good and helpful. It leaves an off taste, and some loose ends, for the reason I mention above. But if you can take it with a pinch of salt, you'll be glad you gave it a read.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great place to start in understanding the Bible debate 26 April 2004
By Daniel Conklin - Published on Amazon.com
When dealing with questions about the Bible and about faith, we are often only able to find extremists--whether from the right or the left. Balance is a rare commodity. I think Jeffery Sheler brings us that balance in "Is the Bible True?" He attempts (and does a very good job) at listening to what people are saying on both (or all) sides of the issues, trying to understand who they are and where they are coming from, and then trying to make sense of it all. Although at times Sheler gives his evaluation of the merits of logic one side or the other, he never does it in a way that tries to force us to think his way.
As when reading any treatment that seeks to be balanced and fair, if you take a strong position on the issues one way or another, you will probably feel that your position isn't being treated adequately. There were times when I wished he would have said some things that he didn't. There were some "facts" I felt he left out, which of course would have helped "prove" my own position. No doubt, both conservative and liberal Bible readers will find reasons to be unhappy or disappointed.
But if you sincerely want to learn about what different people think regarding the Bible, you'll find some interesting and helpful input. What Sheler sets out to do, he does well. For a person who is trying for the first time to understand the questions surrounding the Bible, this book will give you a good framework to begin that search. You'll want to continue from there. I'd recommend N.T. Wright's "The New Testament and the People of God" as a next (although more scholarly) step in your search.
Overall, I thought it was interesting, enjoyable, understandable, and helpful.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good update and balance to sensationalist skepticism 10 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Recently I have read a number of books in the "holy bloodline of Christ" genre (The Templar Revelation, The Hiram Code, The Tomb of God, etc.) in which the authors engage in cavalier exegesis of the Bible while accepting, uncritically, virtually every skeptical perspective on the historicity of scripture. This book is a great book on its own terms, but it is a wonderful balance to these other popular and skeptical books attacking the normal understandings of Biblical history. The author has the intelligence and the courage to include the perspectives of scholars in the evangelical tradition, thereby avoiding the uncritical canonization of scholars in the traditions of orthodox "higher criticism." I especially appreciated his chapter on the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is one of the best books that I have seen for laypeople seeking to understand issues of Biblical criticism.
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