Item description for The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ by Lee Strobel...
Overview From college classrooms to bestselling books, the historic picture of Jesus is under an intellectual onslaught. This fierce attack on the traditional portrait of Christ has confused spiritual seekers and created doubt among many Christians--but can these radical new claims stand up to scrutiny?
Publishers Description Has modern scholarship debunked the traditional Christ? Has the church suppressed the truth about Jesus to advance its own agenda? What if the real Jesus is far different from the atoning Savior worshipped through the centuries? In The Case for the Real Jesus, former award-winning legal editor Lee Strobel explores such hot-button questions as: * Did the church suppress ancient non-biblical documents that paint a more accurate picture of Jesus than the four Gospels?* Did the church distort the truth about Jesus by tampering with early New Testament texts?* Do new insights and explanations finally disprove the resurrection?* Have fresh arguments disqualified Jesus from being the Messiah?* Did Christianity steal its core ideas from earlier mythology?Evaluate the arguments and evidence being advanced by prominent atheists, liberal theologians, Muslim scholars, and others. Sift through expert testimony. Then reach your own verdict in The Case for the Real Jesus.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5" Weight: 0.7 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 2009
Publisher Zondervan Publishing
ISBN 0310292018 ISBN13 9780310292012 UPC 025986292010
Availability 0 units.
More About Lee Strobel
Lee Strobel was the award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune and is the best-selling author of The Case for Faith, The Case for Christ, and The Case for a Creator, all of which have been made into documentaries by Lionsgate. With a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale, Lee wrote 3 Gold Medallion winners and the 2005 Book of the Year with Gary Poole. He and his wife live in Colorado. Visit Lee's website at: www.leestrobel.com.
Lee Strobel currently resides in West Dundee, in the state of Illinois. Lee Strobel was born in 1952.
Lee Strobel has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Case For The Real Jesus?
Strobel makes his case May 23, 2010
Some modern challenges to the traditional Christian view of the historical Jesus come from pop culture, like Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code." Others come from modern scholars with impressive credentials, like Bart Ehrman, Elaine Pagels, and the Jesus Seminar. Still others come from modern philosophies, such as the postmodernist claim that everything, including morality, is relative and that it is virtually impossible to know anything for certain about the distant past. "The Case for the Real Jesus" is Lee Strobel's response to those modern challenges.
I previously read Strobel's "The Case for a Creator" and found that book to be completely stupid, so I was prepared to dislike this book too. I'm happy to say, however, that it's nowhere near as bad. In fact, it's actually pretty good.
"Real Jesus" follows the same general pattern as "The Case for a Creator." Strobel interviews a variety of people said to be renowned experts in this or that field, in hopes of getting reliable answers to a number of challenges to traditional Christian religious beliefs. The qualifications of some of the so-called "experts" in "The Case for a Creator" were obviously hyped beyond all recognition, but Strobel seems much more restrained in "Real Jesus." (Perhaps Strobel didn't need to engage in any hyperbolic puffery this time around, because the experts in this book, unlike in the former book, really are experts!) In any case, the challenges Strobel presents in "Real Jesus" and the experts' responses to them were quite interesting and informative.
Strobel addresses six main 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 refute Jesus' resurrection.
4. Some Christian beliefs were simply copied from pagan religions.
5. Jesus failed to fulfill the Messianic prophecies.
6. People should be free to pick and choose what to believe about Jesus.
All six discussions were well done, but one of my favorites was the very first one with Craig Evans about how historians normally evaluate the reliability of ancient documents. When the normal standards that are used in other contexts are applied to both the New Testament writings and the non-canonical "Lost Gospels" that challenge them, such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, the Secret Gospel of Mark, etc., the overwhelming superiority of the canonical documents is obvious.
The second discussion, which covered some of the textual discrepancies that skeptics like Bart Ehrman and Richard Carrier rely on in their arguments, was another highlight. Strobel's expert, Daniel B. Wallace, presents a convincing counterargument supporting the traditional view of the historical Jesus.
But my favorite section was the third, in which Michael Licona dismantled various objections to the Resurrection story. Licona points out that alternative explanations have to account for at least three generally accepted historical facts: the crucifixion itself, the empty tomb, and the post-Resurrection appearances. This or that alternative explanation may -- repeat, may -- be somewhat successful in dealing with one or the other of the three facts, but no single alternative explanation has been able to convincingly explain all three facts. There is only one unified explanation so far that fully incorporates all three facts, and that's the traditional Christian view.
I don't necessarily agree with all of the experts' arguments. The arguments that the presence of embarrassing details in the Gospels is powerful evidence of the Gospel's truthfulness, that Luke's accuracy about geographic details is strong evidence of his reliability on other matters, and that there are no reasonable alternative explanations for the "enemy" conversions of Paul and James seem strained. For example, an important part of the James-argument is that James was in fact the brother of Jesus, and probably over half of all Christians don't actually believe that that "fact" is in fact true. Nevertheless the vast majority of the other arguments seem well thought out and powerfully argued, especially in comparison with some of the objections that Strobel claims have been made by Muslim, atheist, and liberal challengers, which frequently seemed downright laughable or, as with the Secret Gospel of Mark, even fraudulent.
Unfortunately, Strobel appeared pretty laughable himself on at least one occasion. One of Strobel's experts complained about how some attacks on the traditional view of the historical Jesus are made in popular literature, where ridiculous claims might mislead people without the academic background needed to evaluate those attacks. That's a very good point, and Strobel, as usual, seems to accept his expert's complaint quite readily. The problem is that Strobel was guilty of exactly the same sort of stupidity himself in his "Case for a Creator," in which Strobel presented so-called "scientific" claims that had been published in popular books, even though those claims had been almost universally derided by knowledgeable professionals. Strobel's apparent hypocrisy on that point may be an example of why so many people don't trust Christian apologists.
Absolutely Explosive! May 7, 2010
WOW! If I didnt believe in the veracity of scripture before I surely and more definitely do now. Strobel is a necessity in todays world of skepticism and radical atheism. WHile many try to make Christianity to be a faith bankrupt of intelligence Men like strobel, who have personally been in the center of the skepticism they now seek to counter, have shown just how easy it is to demonstrate the importance of the Christian Worldview. Great Read!
Interviews with Leading Experts about the Evidence Concerning Christ's Divinity Apr 23, 2010
"So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, 'Truly this was the Son of God!'" -- Matthew 27:54 (NKJV)
I developed an interest in reading this book after hearing Lee Strobel preach at Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a few weeks ago. He presented a lot of background information about Jesus that was new to me, and I decided I wanted to learn more.
I believe that you will gain the most benefit from The Case for the Real Jesus if you first read Lee Strobel's earlier book, The Case for Christ. The facts and arguments in The Case for the Real Jesus are often connected to material in The Case for Christ.
In the interest of helping you figure out if this is a book you want to read, I suggest you begin by taking a look at pages 266-267 where the key issues addressed in the book are summarized.
The book considers these challenges that have been frequently raised in the public press during recent years:
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 cannot be trusted because the church tampered with the text."
3. "New explanations have refuted Jesus' resurrection."
4. "Christianity's beliefs about Jesus were copied from pagan religions."
5. "Jesus was an imposter who failed to fulfill the Messianic prophecies."
6. "People should be free to pick and choose what to believe about Jesus."
Each section basically follows the format of finding one of these six challenges, documenting who made the claim and what the claim was based on, locating an expert in that area, and asking the expert to comment on the claim.
You may find that format a little restrictive for getting all of your questions answered. I think you'll find that reading this book is a little like getting an appetizer-sized portion of the information. It would have been much more interesting if Mr. Strobel had arranged for those who made these claims to debate the "expert" who was interviewed and then reported on the give-and-take. The book is filled with references, however, so you'll have an easy time tracking down the original claim and what others have written on the subject. I believe there's enough here to lead you to the information you are looking for to make up your mind from what the sources say or suggest and your heart tells you.
If you are a graduate-level theology student, this material will be too simple for you. If you are just an average person who wants to understand more about what scholars are disagreeing about, you'll probably find that you will get enough information in many areas to satisfy your curiosity.
I feel that people should know why they believe what they believe. The historical record about Jesus' life through the ascension into heaven is richer than is typically the case for events that happened almost two thousand years ago, and I think most people who want to know more about Jesus will be glad they became more familiar with the sources and how they were developed and analyzed.
May God bless you, your family, and all you do in the name of Jesus!
BRILLIANT LEE! Apr 16, 2010
Lee Strobel, I have read now three of your books, "The Case For Christ" "The Case For Easter" and now "The Case For The Real Jesus" Congratulations Lee! Your research and dedication is far and beyond all with an opposing view. I think your presentation is commendable. It is not "In your face" to the unbeliever, but a very pleasant and soothing delivery of the known facts. I thank you for your dedication to the Lord. Of course, we know, as all real Christians know, only his Holy Spirit can bring one to a realization of his existence. And you Lee, being a former atheist, know very well how one's PRIDE can keep one from seeing the truth! Thank you Lee! Excellent work!
One Thousand and One Untruths: How Reliable Is the Account of Secret Mark by Lee Strobel and Craig Evans? Mar 6, 2010
Let me give you all an idea of how unsupported Strobel's claims often are, by focusing upon a single issue in the book, the interview with Craig A Evans on the so-called Secret Gospel of Mark, pages 48-52 in the book.
First of all, Strobel (and Evans) are twisting the facts so that the readers should be led to be suspicious. For instance, Strobels ask a rhetorical question, why the document simply wasn't examined by experts, to which Evans replied "with a grin, `It's gone. Vanished. Smith said he left it at the monastery, but today nobody can find it, so it can't be subjected to ink tests and other analysis. ..." This statement is technically not wrong, but grossly misleading. The way Strobel and Evans depict this, the reader is lead to think that Smith claims to have left the document in the monastery, and then when others tried to locate it, it was gone. This implies that the document might never have been at Mar Saba and that the only evidence that it was there is Smith's own statement. But in 1976, eighteen years after Smith's discovery, Guy G. Stroumsa, now Professor of Comparative Religion, together with the professors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, David Flusser and Shlomo Pines, went to Mar Saba and found the book with the inscribed letter of Clement, evidently where Smith left it eighteen years earlier. They wanted to examine the writing but the Greek Patriarchate would not allow them to do so. And in 1983 Quentin Quesnell was allowed to take the letter to a firm and had it photographed. It is of course true that in spite of many attempts lately to locate the pages, no one has been able to do so. But to imply that Smith would have had anything to do with this is simply not true. He could not very well have stolen the book. If Smith forged the letter and was presuming that this would not be detected, he must have been bold enough to assume that nobody would get access to it in order to investigate it during a period of at least thirty-two years when it remained in custody at the Greek Patriarchate. To claim that "Smith said he left it at the monastery", even though we know that he left it there, is grossly misleading and biased.
Further it is said in the book that "large color photographs of the text were studied by Stephen Carlson." But Stephen Carlson did not study any large colour photographs. Instead he used the black and white reproductions that appears in Morton Smith's book for his study of the handwriting. Strobel and Evans claim the letter to be "a hoax and that Smith is almost certainly the hoaxer", following Stephen Carlson. "When experts examined the magnified photos of the text, they could see what they call `forger's tremor,' where the text isn't really written, but instead it's being drawn by a forger in an attempt to deceive. There are shaky lines, pen-lifts in the middle of strokes--all kinds of indications that this was forged." Which experts, one wonders? The only "expert" who investigated and claimed to have found the "forger's tremor" is Stephen C. Carlson, who has no credentials, formal training, or even prior experience as a document examiner. In fact, the reason why Carlson claims to have seen these "tremors" seems to be solely due to the fact that he did not study any photos at all, but mere printed reproduction where a line screen has been added. It is this line screen that creates the optical illusion of stepping, which Carlson misidentified as tremors. See this image with an omicron which Carlson claims is squarish. The left image is a scan made from the colour photos made in the late 70s, the middle image is a scan made from the photos Smith took in 1958 and the right image is a scan made from the PRINTED REPRODUCTION in Smiths book that Carlson examined. (...) The omicron is circular, and the reason Carlson found "tremors" like squarish instead of circular omicrons is that he relied on poor copies for his study, and not the originals. Se my article: "Tremors, or Just an Optical Illusion?" (...)
And so it continues. They say that "when the Greek letters were compared to a sample of Smith's own writing, they found the Clement text had the same unusual way in making the Greek letters theta and lambda as he did." But of course this is not true. The similarity between how lambda was written in the letter by Clement, and Smith's way of shaping the character, is solely confined to the fact that the letter in both cases was written in two ways, on the one hand without lifting the pen and thus in a continuous motion, on the other hand in two movements, where the pen was lifted. But such variations are very common and really say nothing. As for the rest, the lambdas in Clement's letter to Theodoros do not resemble the lambdas which Smith wrote. Neither does the letter theta in Clement's letter resemble Smith's way of writing the letter. For those who wish to evaluate comparative examples, see Scott G. Brown's article Factualizing the Folklore: Stephen Carlson's Case against Morton Smith.
They also say that there is mildew "on the book--something that wouldn't occur in a book from the dry climate where the monastery was located." Yet, this cannot be established by looking at discolorations on photos, and besides, the book was printed in Amsterdam in Holland already in 1646 and we don't know when it came to the Mar Saba monastery. The statement by Strobel and Evans that "there was no evidence of this book being in the Mar Saba library prior to Smith's `discovering' it" is also a none-argument, since there is also no indication that it wasn't. That's just a way of throwing suspicion upon somebody without any facts to back it up. They even insinuate that the signature "Smith 65" which Smith added to the book, was added by Smith because it was his own book; a most startling suggestion, as we know that Smith probably wrote his name and the number the book received in his catalogue in every book he catalogued.
The other clue, another Mar Saba document which they say Smith would have written and signed with the signature "M. Madiotes" as a self signature of a bald swindler, were by the time Strobel wrote the book already proven to be a false clue. Scott Brown hade previously made this clear, and he and Allan Pantuck showed this by publishing Smith's original photos.
The tactic Strobel uses through Evans is to depict Smith in an unfavourable light and suggest that he had motives to forge the letter. This he does by asserting that the letter had disappeared, while he withholds from the reader the information that apart from Smith a number of other scholars also had seen it; that the text portrays a homosexual act (for which there is no proof); that Smith himself was a homosexual (an unproven statement) and therefore had reason to falsify a text that would make Jesus gay (why would homosexuality imply that someone would commit crimes?); that Smith wanted revenge because he did not get a fulltime job at Brown University and would have assumed that this had to do with his homosexual disposition. All of it is either wrong or misleading and speculative.
In addition, Evans and also Strobel took over several mistakes that Stephen Carlson made, and uncritically (and one might assume willingly) embraced these arguments, without a thorough investigation of their truthfulness. On top of that they have also exaggerated Carlson's results and delivered unreserved conclusions beyond what Carlson himself has dared to. They also erroneously claimed that Carlson and other experts had studied large colour photos, while in reality only Carlson has done the study and then by basically relying on low-resolution black and white reproductions--which seems to be the reason why he even found those "tremors".
The reliance on Carlson's conclusions led to their claim that there are tremors and pen lifts which would point to forgery; this they have done without examining the text themselves or checking if other genuine eighteenth-century handwritings also show these features. To reinforce that impression they claim that the experts found "all kinds of indications that this was forged". Erroneously they claimed that "the Clement text had the same unusual way in making the Greek letters theta and lambda as" Morton Smith did. They wrongly say, relying also this time on Carlson, that Smith forged a different text in the same handwriting, attributed it to a certain Madiotes, a cryptic description of himself as a bald swindler, and as a clue on purpose dated this text to the twentieth century, Smith's own time. All of this completely wrong.
In this short text of a little more than four pages in the book by Lee Strobel there are at least sixteen factual errors, three misleading representations and four exaggerations. Some "mistakes" are more of a trivial kind, while others form the very basis for rejecting the letter as illegitimate. The rest consists mostly of speculations without any factual support, and more or less just opinion and sarcasm.
If one were to assume that the rest of the book contains as many errors as the part on Secret Mark does, and to extrapolate the purely factual errors that occur in this part of the book onto the book's body of roughly 260 pages--there would be about a thousand factual errors. Obviously, this cannot be done without further examination.
Those who wish to look into this more in detail can read my article: "One Thousand and One Untruths: How Reliable Is the Account of Secret Mark by Lee Strobel and Craig Evans?" at (...) And of course, this does not say that Clement's letter containing excerpts from the Secret Gospel of Mark is not a forgery. It just eliminates every argument presented by Strobel in favour of it being a forgery.