The Case For Jesus: The Biblical And Historical Evidence For Christ, by Brant Pitre
As someone who is no stranger to reading apologetic works like this one , I found this book interesting and worthwhile for several reasons, although I must admit I am not as enthusiastic about some of his other books where his Catholic perspective is a bit stronger (like his book on the whore of Babylon, for example). Even so, this was a book that hit a certain sweet spot that makes a book enjoyable to read, and that is a work that presents a thoughtful case for Christ based on the evidence that also takes seriously the Hebrew thought of the early Church of God. Even if this author does not share that perspective, it is worthwhile at least to note that he celebrates and presents that understanding in a way that is appealing to read and which is quite excellent to contrast with the approaches taken by other contemporary Christian apologists, few of whom have a great interest in the perspective of the Hebrew scriptures on such matters as the Messiah and why it was that Jesus Christ was considered guilty of blasphemy.
This book totals about 200 pages, a pretty standard length for an easy-to-read volume of this type, and contains a baker’s dozen of chapters that deal with various matters about the historical and biblical case for Jesus Christ. The author begins with a discussion of the quest for the historical Jesus and for the author’s own personal quest for belief through the course of his education. After that the author asks the question of whether the Gospels were anonymous, finding no anonymous copies of the Gospels whatsoever, but rather finding that the four Gospels of our scripture are uniformly given the titles that we have them (or abbreviations thereof). The author then turns his attention to the writings of various ante-Nicene church fathers (showing his Catholic perspective in an appealing form here) while looking critically at the so-called Lost Gospels. The author then looks at the genre of the Gospels as biographies, and discusses the dating of the Gospels as being before the destruction of the Temple. It is at this point that the author shows his most interesting line of evidence by looking at Jesus’ messianic claims and their Hebrew context, which can be found in all of the Gospels and not only John. After this the author looks at the crucifixion, resurrection, and transfiguration, presenting a solid book that is immensely enjoyable for a believer to read.
Where this book excels the most is in exposing the intellectual bankruptcy of so much of the critical impulse of self-professed scholars when it comes to examining the biblical record. By looking at what the self-professed Christian writers of the early centuries of Christianity said about texts which we can read for ourselves in translation today, we can see that there was no widespread conspiracy against valid forms of Christianity, but rather a strong Christian hostility to pseudonymous works and a high degree of concern for eyewitness testimony as well as high standards of historicity, which one finds in the Gospels as a whole. The author shows himself to be knowledgeable in matters of textual criticism to a high degree, and it is inspirational that he managed to survive as a faithful person in the sort of environment that tends to cause so many others to lose their faith because of corrupt instruction by those who should know better but do not when it comes to God’s word and its reliability. For those who are at least somewhat sympathetic to an understanding of the Hebrew scriptures and their viewpoint as well as to a historical look at the church fathers of late antiquity, this book is definitely a worthwhile and enjoyable read.
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