The Case for Christ
Lee Strobel. Pub. Zondervan Publishing House
About the Author
Lee Strobel, Master of Studies in Law from Yale Law School. Award-winning journalist & investigative reporter for 13 yrs. at the Chicago Tribune. Pg. 303. His life changes when his wife becomes a Christian. He fears he will lose the fun-loving companion and friend he has known for years, but instead he is surprised by subtle changes in her character. This not only intrigues him but prompts him to learn more about Jesus by using the same logical and factual approach he follows while working as an investigative crime reporter. He starts his learning quest as an unconvinced skeptic. His underlying question is, “Can a case for Christ be made beyond a reasonable doubt”? To answer this, he sets out on a fact-finding mission. For nearly two years, he interviews numerous subject matter experts and biblical scholars to answer his questions with facts and evidence. His skills in investigative reporting help uncover the truth regarding the reliability of the gospels.
Introduction: Who is Jesus? This comes down to two answers: This man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.
Part 1: Examining the Record
Skeptics: “Some scholars say the gospels were written so far after the events that legend developed and distorted what was finally written down, turning Jesus from merely a wise teacher into the mythological Son of God.” Pg. 32
Answers: “The standard scholarly dating is that Acts was written by Luke in A.D. 61-63, because Paul was still living and under house arrest in Rome. Since Acts is the 2nd of a two-part work, we know the 1st part - the gospel of Luke – must have been written earlier than that. And since Luke incorporates parts of the gospel of Mark, that means Mark is even earlier. So if you allow one year for each writing, you end up with Mark written no later than about A.D. 60, a maximum gap of 30 yrs. after Jesus’ death. Pg.34 That’s still within the lifetimes of various eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus, including hostile eyewitnesses who would have served as a corrective if false teachings about Jesus were going around.” Pg. 33. Eyewitness testimony is the key here.
The two earliest biographies of Alexander the Great were written by Arrian and Plutarch more than 400 years after Alexander’s death in 323 B.C., yet historians consider them to be trustworthy. So whether the gospels were written 60 yrs. or 30 yrs. after the life of Jesus, the mount of time is negligible by comparison. Pg. 33.
“The gospel writers had nothing to gain except criticism, ostracism, and martyrdom. The certainly had nothing to win financially. If anything this would have provided pressure to keep quiet, to deny Jesus, to downplay him, even to forget they ever met him—yet, because of their integrity, they proclaimed what they saw. Pg. 48. Eleven apostles were put to grisly deaths, which show deep conviction for what they believed and were preaching regarding Jesus.” Pg. 45
“The gospels are extremely consistent with each other by ancient standards, which are the only standards by which it’s fair to judge them”. Pg. 45 “If the gospels were identical or too consistent, this would have raised awareness that the authors had conspired among themselves to coordinate their stories in advance, and that would have cast doubt on them”. Pg. 45
The Adverse Witness Test
“Many people had reasons for wanting to discredit this movement and would have done so if they could have simply told history better. Pg. 51. Yet, look what his opponents did say. In later Jewish writings Jesus is called a sorcerer who led Israel astray—which acknowledges that he really did work marvelous wonders, although the writers dispute the source of his power. They never say he did not work the written miracles. If critics could have attacked the movement on the basis that...