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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2013
This is the kind of book that people tend to rate from one extreme or the other. That is, they'll either be convinced by its arguments and give it four or five stars, or they'll find it lacking and give it one or two. There aren't very many people who would give this a "neutral" three stars because, by its very nature, it's very difficult to have neutral feelings about it.

For those reading about 'The Case for Christ' for the first time, this is a very famous and long enduring book which attempts to explain, in as simple language as possible, a rational case for the existence of Jesus Christ as the son of God. I was given a copy to borrow at an Alpha Course (a free and friendly course for non-Christians to learn about Jesus and Christianity), and I've since learned that this book is very common among such gatherings, and held in high regard by Christian apologists in general. The book's author, Lee Strobel, a former journalist with a legal background, explains that he began this book as an atheist looking to better understand Christianity but, by the end of his research, came to the conclusion that the evidence undoubtedly points to the fact that Jesus was the son of God, and the Bible is the word of God. Strobel uses his journalistic skills and legal understanding to present a systematic and rational argument in favour of his new belief, not to mention one that is highly readable and entertaining at the same time. The book consists of various interviews, where Strobel (who allegedly begins as a sceptic and ends up convinced of the Bible's legitimacy) probes into the minds of some of the most respected and academically decorated Christians in America. The result is a powerfully convincing defence of Christianity, if you want to believe it, and one of the most hopelessly one-sided critiques of the Bible, if you don't want to believe it.

And this is where Strobel's promising adventure falls flat. To his credit, I don't think Strobel actually says in this book that he ever set out to present all of the arguments, but rather to show a convincing case in favour of his own newly developed belief. But that's the problem, and why this book should never be recommended to anybody who flat out doesn't believe, because they'll just cling further to those beliefs because of reading it. Strobel interviews some very impressive figures here, but he never presents the other side. He asks them probing questions, where these intellects tear apart their detractors, but he never looks at the arguments of the people with other opinions. Everybody here shares the exact same opinions, and they're presented in such a way to tell us that these are the "only" legitimate opinions, that the opposing arguments are all contradictory and full of holes, and the whole book is framed in such a way to make these theories seem as convincing as possible. Detractors are either atheists, clutching at straws and refusing to accept what's obvious, or they're "liberal" Christians, changing things to suit their agenda. If this was legitimately looking to explore Christianity from a neutral point-of-view, and to show the facts and let the reader make up their own minds, it would have allowed for some of the detractors who were so brutally torn apart to offer their counter-arguments, and it wouldn't have been written in such a way to convince us of the author's beliefs. As such, any knowledgeable atheist, or "liberal Christian", could easily tear this apart and ridicule it... and they do exactly that. Just type "The Case for Christ rebuttal" into Google and you'll be presented with countless examples.

Like I said, if you want to believe that Jesus is the son of God, then you'll accept every word in here. If, however, you genuinely want to learn and understand, then I would highly recommend that you read this book, take notes, and compare it side-by-side with some of the excellent rebuttal websites. Of course, those sites are trying to make Strobel look just as silly as his interviewees tried to make their detractors look, so exercise caution and use your own judgement and common sense. Alternatively, if you're already convinced that Jesus isn't the son of God, you might want to read this because it's about as entertaining and readable an insight into the beliefs and arguments of Christian apologists as you're likely to find. Me? I learnt a lot from reading this and comparing Strobel's words to those of his online adversaries. For one thing, I now feel pretty confident that Jesus was actually a historical figure, and that is pretty much beyond reasonable doubt. I've also learnt that Christian beliefs can, indeed, stand up to scrutiny and logic. But it's a shame that many atheists won't get that impression from this book, as its own biases serve to de-legitimise it.
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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2006
I would highly recommend this book to anyone exploring Christian apologetics for the first time. It is a compellingly written and easily readable defence of Christian claims about Jesus Christ. Strobel tackles the subject from about every conceivable angle by investigating everything from the geography of the New Testament to the events surrounding Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. It is on this latter point that the book builds is case most strongly, providing credible arguments for a rational basis for believing in the resurrection.

The book's structure is both its strength and its weakness. The author assumes the role of detective as he jets around America meeting and interviewing experts on the various aspects of the case he investigates. The cross-examinations that take place are recounted to the reader and make for more lively reading than a traditional narative. The interviews are also cleverly interspersed with the little anecdotes that tie in with the unfolding argument. However, the question-and-answer format tends to leave gaps in the arguments and gives the overall case a disjointed feel. Also, arguments tend to get simplified because they are related in the form of a dialogue.

On the whole, the book is well-written and accessible, but slightly simplistic, and can serve as a good starting-point from which to explore the case for Christ further.
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102 of 115 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 1998
As someone who has spent years studying ancient history, I can attest to the accuracy, fairness, readability, and thorough nature of this excellent new book. And while it's great that "The Case for Christ" has generated so much response at amazon.com, I'm concerned that a handful of people who disagree with the author's conclusions have sought to discourage others from obtaining the book through reviews that are at times misleading or which miss the point of the book entirely. Taking simplistic potshots when there is no ready mechanism for response by the author seems terribly unfair. Let me give just a few examples. One reviewer tries to discredit the author's citing of Josephus, a first century historian. First, the reviewer claims that Josephus wrote about Jesus 80 years after Jesus died, which is absurd because this would place the date after Josephus' own death! Further, he claims Josephus' work has been "universally acknowledged to have been altered or doctored by later Christians." Yet this is a point that the book's author, Lee Strobel, readily concedes! However, Strobel takes the approach of a true historian by seeking to determine what part of Josephus' work is authentic and what was likely a later Christian interpolation. Unfortunately, potential readers of the book might think from the review that Strobel's book is lacking, when it's the review that misses the mark. A reviewer points out that several of the experts interviewed in the book are from Christian universities, so of course they believe Jesus is who he claimed to be. However, these scholars don't hold this view because they are at Christian universities; they are at Christian universities because they have been personally convinced by the evidence that Jesus is who he claimed to be! These experts are highly respected scholars with excellent academic credentials. Why aren't opposing scholars interviewed? Because the scholars in the book are confronted with the claims of these opposing scholars and are forced to defend their positions with facts. Thus, the claims of opposing scholars are given due consideration. In addition, the author devotes an entire chapter to debunking the highly questionable -- and sometimes laughable -- scholarship of the left-wing Jesus Seminar. Concerning the resurrection, a reviewer claims: "If one disciple claimed to see Jesus, wouldn't others also do so in order to not feel less special or blessed?" Why would someone falsely claim to have seen the resurrected Jesus when it meant a life of hardship, rejection, poverty, and eventual torture and death? Can anyone find a single example in history of a person who knowingly and willingly allowed themselves to be tortured to death for a lie? I could go on and on. There are logical and rational responses to every single point brought up by the reviewers. In fact, a fair reading of this book shows that it already provides answers to much of what is raised! At about 300 pages, this book is clearly intended to be an overview of the evidence concerning Jesus. To fault the author for not going deeper on one point or another does not mean there aren't adequate answers. It simply means one book can only give so much information. What is in this book, as far as I can determine, is accurate, balanced, and written in a very creative and highly readable form. I strongly recommend it to anyone with an open mind.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2002
Before reading this book I struggled with the idea of Christianity, especially when my girlfriend was a Christian. But this answered 95% of my questions that she couldn't answer. Because of this I have become a Christian, and so has my best mate to whom I have lent the book. This book is amazing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2014
I was brought up as a Christian, but was never forced to accept it, and my parents gave me the choice whether or not to go to church when I was 12.
This is during secondary school, about the time when we got taught all about evolution and the big bang theory, so I had an awful lot of information coming at me, and most people were telling me how this "proves there can't be a god". I wasn't convinced, though, and retained some sort of belief in a higher being, though looking back, I can't say I was a Christian.
I attended (and still do) a Christian summer camp every summer, and when I was 15, one of the leaders bought me this book. After reading it, I saw all of the historical evidence for Christ. And how he is who he said he is. This is how I came to accept him into my life, and this reinforced my belief in God, and became an actual Christian.
I'd recommend also buying "The Case for Faith" and "The Case for a Creator", also by Strobel. These two books filled in all my remaining questions about God and Christianity.

All of this said, however, the book is not perfect. Now at University, I have become involved in some of the evangelical things, and my faith has grown much much stronger, but this has let me see that there are still unanswered questions in this book, though mostly those which come from highly sceptical people after much thought, which can be answered in person.

Another problem I found was that Strobel lays out the interviews in interview order, and doesn't link similar points. This might be one interviewee saying something in the middle of his interview, which then comes up as a bit of a surprise at the end of the next one.
Other than that, I'd still recommend this book to anyone new to faith, or who wants to know more about Christianity.
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66 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2004
Having blundered my way from one 'faith' to another, I thankfully stumbled on Christianity, and then found Lee Strobel's wonderful book, "A Case For Christ," and all I can say is, WOW!
I had many niggling questions regarding my belief in Jesus Christ, but one by one all these questions faded away as I read the chapters within this book. Through Strobel's delving investigations into the authenticity of Christ, His works and His history (Strobel gathered his information from top experts around the world) I've learned that Jesus truly did exist and his miracles are very real.
This book is factual.
All the information provided is genuine.
In this book, Strobel provides a riveting journalistic investigation into the life of Christ that is a real page-turner!
If, like me, you are new to Christianity then this book is a must.
If you are a Christian, then this book will certainly reinforce your love and beliefs in Christ and His wonderful Works.
It's a MUST!
(I'd have given it 7 out of 5 stars, but Amazon wouldn't let me.)
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 1999
This is absolutely the finest introduction to the evidence for Jesus that I have ever read, and I've read plenty of them (I have an MA in Philosophy of religion). The author conducts solid, critical, and highly readable interviews with some of the finest theologians and Christian thinkers around. He has just the right combination of skepticism and a willingness to come to reasonable conclusions. For those who think he doesn't probe enough -- what book are you reading? This book delves into the most controversial and cutting-edge issues involving Jesus. The author takes the toughest objections from atheists like Michael Martin and forces Christians to give reasonable answers. He builds his case point by point, in a solid and methodical way. If you read one book concerning the evidence for Christianity, make it this one. If you are planning to give a spiritual seeker one book about Christianity, make it this one. I agree with Billy Graham that this is a powerful and persuasive volume that should be widely shared. Don't be deterred by those who say the author didn't interview non-believers; he did something better -- he took the best arguments from skeptics and put Christianity to the test. Some folks might not like the fact that Christianity wins.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2014
This is a thoroughly well researched book, which presents the evidence in a compelling way. As a retired advocate I appreciated the attention to detail and the logical presentation of the evidence and an argument well marshalled.
Reading this book has strengthened my own faith, I commend it to you whoever you are.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2003
I found this to be an great book, well researched and written by
an excellent "wordsmith". He questioned secular scholars of history, science and other disciplines and then presented evidence which for me showed Jesus to be what the New Testament teaches - the Son of God. A challenging read for believers and non-believers alike and an interesting account of the author's own journey from aethiesm to faith in Christianity.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 1999
For those who claim that this book is one sided because the author is a Christian, for the sake of fairness, ask yourself : "How many 'one-sided' books are out there favoring the Jesus Seminar, liberal Christianity, etc.? How many are out there that think they aren't one-sided because they include token quotes from scholars holding the opposite point of view (the ones that Strobel interviewed for example) ? Tons of each. Think of this book as a rebuttal.
Granted, Stroebel interviewed no scholars with opposing views like Sanders, Mack, or Fredriksen, but what is he supposed to do ? Do these scholars go around answering opposing views too ? I somehow doubt it. In fact if you read Mack's WWNT today, you will find that other than a snide swipe at Theide's Magdalene Papyrus theory, he ignores every "opposing" point of view there is. Notice that a book by a journalist named Russell Shorto, published a few years back, did the same thing in favor of the Jesus Seminar. So now we've got Shorto for one side and Strobel for the other. Looks like the match is even! If you want balance, read Shorto's and Strobel's book and compare the arguments ! I personally found Strobel's arguments to be more convincing. You might disagree with my assessment but you can't do so honestly by not reading this book.
Asking the question : "If certain towns or people mentioned in the Bible are found to have existed at that time, so what?" smacks of intellectual laziness. What this evidence means is that they ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE RIGHT than if the towns and people DIDN'T exist. And Strobel covered this on p.96, He said :
"In trying to determine if a witness is being truthful, journalists and lawyers will test all the elements of his or her testimony that can be tested. If this investigation reveals that the person was wrong in those details, this casts considerable doubt on the veracity of his or her entire story. However, if the minutiae check out, this is some indication-not conclusive proof BUT SOME EVIDENCE-that maybe the witness is being reliable in his or her overall account....If the details check out, this doesn't prove that his ENTIRE story is true, BUT IT DOES ENHANCE HIS REPUTATION FOR BEING ACCURATE." (Emphasis mine). This may not satisfy skeptics, but these are the rules of evidence that lawyers and historians (i.e. professionals in interpreting evidence) use in assessing the truthfulness of a witness.
Good thing archaeologists as a whole don't take this careless 'so what' attitude. If they did, nothing would be discovered and they might as well close shop.
The Jesus Seminar IS INDEED COMPOSED OF a number of radical fringe scholars who are on the far, far left wing of NT thinking. I don't find this statement inaccurate at all. Naming three of their ringleaders doesn't change the assessment in the least, one which is agreed upon not only in the circles Strobel checked in, but also in moderate circles led by the likes of Richard Hays and Luke Timothy Johnson.
For those who have read this book and are still interested in debating the case for Christ "live", I invite you to refute the works of J.P. Holding in his TEKTON APOLOGETICS Website on the internet.
Lee Stroebel's book is a good counter-balance to the works of many liberal skeptics out there on the case for Christ.
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