His third challenge, “New Explanations Have Refuted Jesus Resurrection,” and its fictitious cross-examination are so self-refuting that they really don’t need to be disputed (that is, the biblical narrative is refuted). The order of events, the specific events that occurred, and the identity of the first witness regarding the crucifixion and resurrection are all in dispute among the four canonical gospels. Worse, different churches have different teachings about who the first witness was. A further powerful example of its mythical (and allegorical) character is found in the story of Pilate releasing a prisoner to the press. First of all, it was never customary to free prisoners on Passover, much less those who had been found guilty of a crime. Secondly, an examination of the released prisoner’s name in Aramaic reveals a much clearer mythical nature. Bar is the Aramaic word for son, and Abba is the Aramaic word for father. BarAbbas, which means “son of the father” in Aramaic, alludes to what some people believe Jesus to be.

         The fourth objection (Beliefs in Christianity Were Plucked From Other Religions) There is no denying that Christianity and many other Pagan religions have many things in common. Who copied what is the question. Neither side’s interpretation of the solution is entirely correct. Although there were gods who were crucified before Christianity, Christianity did not adopt their practices. That is certainly a possibility, if not somewhat probable. However, if you are from a culture that practices the crucifying of gods, how can one claim that the culture that “created” a crucified Jesus was not merely a copy of paganism? I’m not claiming that nothing was taken directly from paganism. There is no shortage of objects that have mythological origins. One that fascinates me the most is the myth of Dagon, the fish god, which was later made famous by John the Baptist (I guarantee you will never look at a Christian fish the same way again), and the obvious emulation of the demoniac at Gadara from book 10 of the Odyssey. Regardless of the situation, I fail to see how this chapter advances Strobel’s cause. While it’s true that his claims are made in numerous places on the internet, to be completely honest, I would have rather that he address the historicization of Dagon through John in addition to other myths that are more specific. Rather, he went for the simple (and cowardly) route.

         The answer to the fifth challenge—that Jesus was an identity thief who failed to fulfill the Messianic prophecies—is unquestionably yes. Strobel attempts to pervert Old Testament (messianic) prophecy by making some of it happen before 70 CE and some of it happen after. It’s simply untrue. Of course, there are certain things that Jesus had no control over, like his birthplace. But that assumes there was a Jesus in the past. The truth is that nothing about prophecy in the New Testament was written by someone who couldn’t have existed in the first or second century. In terms of Old Testament prophecy, Jesus’ life could be easily shaped to fulfill the supposed messianic predictions even in the absence of a real Jesus. The Old Testament contains more than 300 purported messianic predictions. (A thorough reading of them will cut that number down to a very small number.) For this reason, I maintain that Christianity would be far better off without a historical Jesus and would not require one to begin with.

         The final challenge, “People Should Be Free to Pick and Choose What to Believe About Jesus,” is more of a plea to accept the biblical Jesus as opposed to the non-biblical conception of the same name. Besides, why shouldn’t anyone else be allowed to selectively choose what they want to know about Jesus if Christians are allowed to do so with the Bible? I’ve come to the conclusion that we are doomed if this is what Christians consider to be scholarship.

         This book addressed many difficult issues, which is what I found so great about it. It is extensively footnoted, with a recommended reading list at the end of each chapter for those who wish to study even more. For individuals who wish to begin studying some of the complex contemporary issues, this book would be an excellent place to start. I believe that reading the relevant chapter aloud and having a discussion about it would be a great way to help a friend who was really having trouble in one of these areas. I would advise following the recommended reading list if the friend in question is still unsure or perplexed. There are plenty of seekers who will react favorably to pursuing the truth in tandem, but there are also plenty of skeptics who just like to be antagonistic and doubtful. And maybe that’s what this book does best. Once more, Si’s constant reminder that all truth is God’s truth and that Christians need not fear the truth is brought to my attention.


Martin H. Kamaidan