Simply convincing

The Truth about Jesus
Paul Barnett
Aquila Press, Sydney, 1994.
$14.95. 164pp.

Paul Barnett has developed a reputation for thorough, persuasive and easily understood presentations of the truth of biblical history. His previous books, whether commentaries or history or apologetics, have all defended a reasonable belief in the events that the New Testament describes.

In his new book, The Truth about Jesus, Paul Barnett continues in the same vein, this time championing the veracity of the Bible’s teaching about the uniqueness of Jesus—his virgin birth, his deity and his resurrection from the dead.

The book begins by comparing the historical enquiry into Jesus with the enquiry into JFK’s assassination. While this grounds the book in historical reality, it is a little unfortunate, since no-one really is sure what happened to the American president. My sceptical friends won’t miss that point!

However, after that uncertainty, the rest of the book is very convincing. It works through the evidence concerning Jesus from the Gospels, Paul and early writers (and not only Josephus and Tacitus). Having established a case for trusting the historical records, it then tackles questions such as “How could the Messiah be born of a virgin?”, “How could Jews believe Jesus was God?” and “What sort of resurrection took place?”. The book ends with an appeal for the reader to make a decision about who he or she thinks Jesus is.

The Truth about Jesus is an exercise in contemporary apologetics, both attacking the current falsehoods about Christ from proponents such as Spong and Thiering, and carefully building a convincing picture of the evidence in favour of the orthodox view. Paul Barnett ‘dovetails’ important information from three sides—the Christian New Testament writers, Christian scholars and non-Christian historical sources. This scholarly breadth and depth, coupled with a simple writing style, makes it an ideal book to read through and discuss with an inquisitive non-Christian friend.

Maps, tables and sketches supplement the text and help us to summarize the wealth of information provided. Clearly, the book is designed to assist those enquiring into Christianity to make an informed decision about its historical veracity: there are questions at the end of each chapter that draw out the implications of the truth of Christianity, as well as carefully selected reading lists for those who wish to go further.

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