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on 28 November 2010
This investigation into the historicity of Christ seeks to defend and prove the existence of Jesus through interviewing experts in archeology, medicine and other aspects of historical study with a focus on theological issues.

The upside is his method: interviewing 'witnesses'. They all boast impeccable academic and professional credentials, are well respected in their fields of endeavour boasting best selling books, credible research and articles in reputable publications. This makes their findings and opinions solid and well grounded at best. The mission is pretty well accomplished in as far as explaining the evidence that Historical Jesus walked the earth, and one is educated in how myth and reality fare as time passes. The misconceptions around the compilation of the Bible are dealt with as is the relationship between the supernatural (like the Resurrection) and the documented history of the Christian Church. The latter, it is argued, is strong evidence for the former. Many contemporaneous theories and arguments of prominent objectors are also dealt with.It is very readable, formatted in manageable sections and Strobel's journalistic experience figures in heavily.

The downside is his method: Strobel does his best to convey an impartial and skeptical approach, but it is only mock skepticism and that immediately suggests he may not ask the questions or have the doubts a genuine skeptic may have - - hence some may not get the answers they seek. He also tries to emphasise the gravitas and credibility of his interviewees by describing their expressions and body language. Posture and tone don't add to the argument and are based soley on his perception. Though he refers to the opposition, he doesn't interview any skeptics and that's a big minus.

Still it is a worthy contribution to the growing library of apologetics and is at least an excellent education is how historians approach history, and in this case Biblical history in particular.
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on 24 September 2013
The one weakness of this book, as other reviewers have highlighted, is that all of the people interviewed are Christians themselves. I think the addition of a few secular scholars would have helped his case, but I also think the fact that all of the quoted scholars are Christians is overstated. Yes, these men are Christians, but they are also intellectuals of the highest form in most if not all cases and you cannot discredit what they are saying based on their personal faith. Yes, it could lead to bias, but no more so than an Athiest scholar would be biased against the evidence.
This book is not the be all and end all and while it answers many questions extremely well, it is better used as a basis for further research. The evidence given in the book is extremely credible in 99% of the cases and anyone who denies this because of the scholars' faith is only kidding themselves, as a little research would show them.
It is extremely accessible and tackles many issues which are attacked by Atheists and shows that, despite the constant request for evidence of Christianity's claims, the New Testament is probably one of the most reliable ancient texts around; a lot more so than other texts which are accepted as truth, and rightly so as the claims are far more extravagant.

All round this is a great book for those with questions or doubts about Christianity and acts as a brilliant springboard for further questioning and research, even though the evidence given is pretty compelling.
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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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on 27 July 1999
When I began reading this book, I had just started reading the Bible, and was hoping this would help me on my way to becoming a Christian. Instead, it made me almost anti-Christian, for the simple fact that so many Christian readers on this site gave it props for proving their faith--I certainly don't want to buy into anything they believe if they respect THIS journalistic garbage. I don't see how anyone can read this book without seeing the MASSIVE holes in his arguments. His questioning starts off with a claim from an atheist or sceptic, and he presents this claim to a Christian scholar and THEN PROCEEDS TO BUY ALMOST EVERYTHING THEY SAY. Some chapters read almost like a monologue, with Mr. Strobel only adding his weakly phrased questions:"but what do you say to so and so's view", or "don't you think such and such disproves your evidence?" He then accepts their answer when I had about thirty more questions to ask. Equally annoying, in each chapter he spends a great deal of time admiring his subjects' character, as if the fact that they are such great people should make me buy into what they believe. Not once does he interview a sceptic. This "blunt, tough questioning," rather than producing "expert testimony and incontrovertible evidence," instead made me gag at the blatant, broad assumptions and half-truths that his arguments relied on. The reason this book got 2 stars rather than 1 is that he presents some interesting facts that are are worth knowing, and his presentation of the crucifixion is quite moving--when Jesus died on the cross, it must have been terrible indeed, no matter who he was. Unfortunately, this chapter is basically irrelevent to Mr. Strobel's advertised achievement, and he should have spent those pages developing his very lacking arguments. After reading this book, I decided, as I think everyone should, to read the Bible alone, and decide from there. Any belief bolstered by shabby arguments such as this, whether by a cult leader or Mr. Strobel, is frightening indeed.
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on 5 January 2012
It would be unfair to criticise this book for being when its title clearly indicates that its mission is to set out the one-sided case for Jesus's existence as the son of God. However, between its covers, Strobel gives the impression of an unbiased search for the truth, complete with a sprinkling of courtroom anecdotes to imply a high level of scrutiny, which this book simply isn't. He speaks to not a single scholar who is not an evangelical Christian.

My first problem in this book came with the first two chapters which attempt to explain why we should believe what the gospels say. Here Strobel unfortunately falls back on circular arguments such as mentioning the good character of the gospel writers as reason for believing their accounts. However, the only evidence we have for their characters is in the gospels themselves, so one already needs to be convinced by the gospels to buy this argument.

These first two chapters are amongst the weakest in the book, which is problematic as many of the later arguments of the book are based on the reliability of the gospels, so if you haven't been convinced by that, many of the later chapters fall down too.

The biggest problem with Strobel's investigation is that while he asks some of the challenging questions of his academics that are often posed by sceptics, he swallows whatever explanation they give him with no further scrutiny no matter how implausible their explanations are. For example, at one point he asks how it is possible for the massacre of the infants by Herod to have taken place as Herod's reign does not fit in with the dates of other events in the Bible. The answer he is given is that there might have been another King Herod. This to me sounds like an attempt to validate a previously held belief, not an honest attempt at historical discovery. Yet Strobel accepts many answers of this calibre without hesitation, which is frustrating for the reader.

Another fatal flaw of Strobel's approach is that he adds no weight to the fact that one needs greater historical evidence to believe in miracles than to believe other things. For example, if there is a 2000 year old document that says Julius Caesar enjoyed drinking wine, we may well accept this to have a reasonable probability of accuracy, but if it said he walked on water we would probably ask for more evidence. Strobel does not appear to realise this.

He is also too eager to jump to supernatural conclusions. Even if we agree with him up to the point that the gospels are fantastic, reliable accounts from the time, the most likely explanation is still not that a man who is the son of a deity was sent to Earth and performed miracles. While Strobel dismisses explanations such as hoax, hallucination, misreporting, legendary exaggeration and lying, he fails to acknowledge that even if unlikely these explanations are all more likely than the supernatural explanation. Again, he requires someone who already believes elements of the Bible or in a god for this to convince, which is a shame as his aim is to convince us of Jesus's divinity by secular historical means,an aim which he fails to meet.

Ultimately, this book looks good on the surface, but falls down following the application of basic critical thought. It will convince those seeking to be convinced, but anyone with a genuinely neutral stance shouldn't be taken in.

It has been said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Lee Strobel would do well to remember this.
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on 25 September 2009
Strobel's book is lively and interesting and it is a good concept for the question it poses.

However, I have some criticisms of the approach he has taken. The subtitle is misleading. It is not "an investigation" when your aim is to prove that Jesus is the Son of God and rose from the dead, but you only interview people who already believe this (no matter how learned they are) and nobody who does not. The title is much more accurate - The Case for Christ. Its much more the work of a lawyer, trying to present a point of view as thoroughly as possible, together with statements from sympathetic witnesses, than a work of investigative journalism in which the aim truly is to get to the truth. Contrary arguments are raised only so that they can be knocked down.

Interesting but unconvincing and one-sided. Worse, it is intellectually dishonest. That may sound a bit harsh, but that's only because journalistic standards have in general fallen so far that presenting patently lopsided information as an objective "investigation" seems to have become the norm.
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on 5 November 1998
I have always been the kind of person who felt a need to know and understand "Truth." In college, I majored in philosophy and minored in comparative religion. By the time I was in my thirties, I was thoroughly steeped in nihilism and cultural relativism. On some level I probably still wanted to know Truth, but essentially I had given up. Besides, it didn't seem that important to my everyday life. Then. . . ('Jaws' theme) . . . mid-life hit and I realized that you (probably) only get one chance to figure all this out. So I started on what I came to call my mildly manic, mid-life spirit quest. I started reading philosophy again. I started studying the new physics. I started exploring Buddhism and reading New Age "stuff." I went to every weird event I could find, like healing workshops on Mount Shasta and past-lives seminars in Maine. While I was doing this my 19-year-old daughter became a Christian. She began trying to drag me to Christ, and I would occasionally go to church with her just to humor her. But something about what I heard moved me deeply. My spirit felt called, but my intellect was convinced that we were being suckered by the greatest hoax in history. I felt split in two, so eventually I just started to pray this prayer: "Dear God, show me your truth. I need to know what you want me to believe. I need you to hear me and answer my prayers. I need to know -- and, by the way, you can't really want me to be a Christian, can you? I mean, who can really believe this stuff?" Enter Lee Strobel. I had been praying about this for a few confusing months when I went to a service at Willow Creek Church this summer. Lee talked about his own search a little, and then he said: "Maybe you're someone who has taken the opinions of your professors in college as facts. But I invite you to really seek out the facts, to search out the truth for yourself." I went to a bookstore and there was his new book, "The Case for Christ." I took it home, read it that afternoon, bought several of the books he had referenced, and read them cover to cover. For the first time in a long time I began to feel like my head and heart might be able to sign a truce. I can't exactly say that when I opened "The Case for Christ," I was a skeptic, and when I closed it I was a Christian, but that comes close to capturing the truth. This book created a bridge between my head and my heart. It lit the path toward resolving deep conflicts between intellect and spirit. Before reading "The Case for Christ," I didn't think they could be reconciled. After reading it, I knew they could be.When I called my daughter in California to tell her I had become a Christian, she could hardly believe it! Then she said, "I should have known for you, it would take a book."
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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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on 11 June 2009
This is an excellent and well structured book for Christians or those wishing to explore Christianity. Of course Strobel has an agenda he wishes the reader to believe what he believes, but the origin of the book is based around his journey from sceptic to faith. There is a good balance between depth and readablity, the book is well cross referenced so if you wish to explore an area more deeply you can.
The books tone is informative without being dry, compared to the shrill condescending rant of Dawkins 'God Delusion', Strobel presents easily the more persuasive arguement.
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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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