Thursday, October 25, 2007


In the next few blogs I want to sumarize the gist of Lee Strobel's new book, The Case for the Real Jesus (Zondervan 2007).

Like his other best-selling books, Strobel offers a readable, racy account of the pros and cons of current theological opinion about Jesus - his identity, resurrection, the literary sources, etc. He brings his investigative/journalistic skills to the various discussions with 'experts' (note the 'quotes': I'll explain later).

In my review of his well-known book The Case for Christ, I wrote: 'Strobel's methodology is a little contrived. Strobel acts as a skeptical devil's advocate with the experts he interviews. But he is then convinced at every point on every issue - so there's an 'a prioristic' flavour about the whole exercise. (It's cute how he sometimes comments on a scholar's opinion as being 'theologically sound'!).'

Here again he betrays his conservative evangelical bias, getting all upbeat when a 'top-rate scholar' affirms a belief in biblical inerrancy, or substitutionary atonement, for example. Strobel, in my opinion, is a better raconteur than theologian.

But he's done his research, and generally the various theological/textual experts respond to his hard questions with balance and fairness. A few issues are in the too-hard basket (which distinguishes this book's 'evangelical' approach from many written by fundamentalists).

So here's an all-too-simplified Q & A summary of the main issues in this interesting book, covering each of the six challenges:

[1] 'Scholars are uncovering a radically different Jesus in ancient documents just as credible as the Four Gospels'

[2] 'The Bible's portrait of Jesus can't be trusted because the Church tampered with the text'

[3] 'New explanations have refuted Jesus' resurrection'

[4] 'Christianity's beliefs were copied from pagan religions'

[5] 'Jesus was an imposter who failed to fulfill messianic prophecies'

[6] 'People should be free to pick and choose what to believe about Jesus'

Here's another review of this book.

More articles like this here.

1 comment:

Vinny said...

Wow! It is very refreshing to find a Christian who is willing to acknowledge that "Strobel's methodology is a little contrived."

I agree that "Strobel offers a readable, racy account of the pros and cons of current theological opinion." My objection to Strobel's work is that he leaves his readers with the impression (intentionally I believe) that they are getting an accurate account of the pros and cons.

It is true that he does ask his uniformly conservative Christian scholars some of the questions that a skeptic might ask, but I don't think he asks any of the hard follow up questions. Instead, he is invariably convinced by his experts' position.