Book Review – Searching for Jesus

Searching for Jesus: New Discoveries in the Quest for Jesus of Nazareth – and How They Confirm the Gospel Accounts by Robert J. Hutchinson

A member suggested (and loaned) this book to me a few months ago, complimenting it as a helpful and easy read.  This is a really good assessment of this book.  For the person who has been fed a rather unhelpful diet of the The History Channel or the National Geographic Channel, this book could be  very helpful glimpse into Biblical scholarship spanning the last 200 years or so, and how research and archaeology and historical inquiry have dealt serious blows to the circumstantial reasoning and absence-of-evidence arguments which defined liberal Biblical scholarship for the last century.

As such, it serves as an apologetic of sort.  It’s not a disinterested apologetic as Hutchinson definitely has a bias for a revision of the pop-theology academia of the last two centuries.  Hutchinson is not a professional theologian but he does a serviceable job of summarizing key perspectives both old and new, and prompting the reader to  honestly reconsider the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus in light of very compelling evidence.

But while it is apologetic, there has been some criticism that Hutchinson presents material in a way that leaves evaluation ultimately to the reader’s evaluation.   At times he is less effusive than I would like in his presentation of data.  But I also believe firmly that this is intentional on his part.  He is writing to present information to skeptics, as a skeptic himself.  A believing skeptic, but a skeptic all the same.  He is trying to speak from a common base, and allow the evidence to speak for itself.  I think he does a good job of this.

Of course, his research cannot be inclusive and exhaustive.  But he does deal with a lot of the names that make big splashes currently in Western culture as naysayers of the Bible and the Christian faith, names like Bart Ehrman.  At the very least, readers are challenged with information that, if they truly are skeptics willing to investigate further, will prompt further exploration that ultimately – as the purpose of apologetics can only be – might pave the way for someone to actually listen to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Christians should also be interested to read books like this to counteract the effect of a constant cultural narrative that attempts to minimize, hide, or discount archaeology and historical records.  It is very readable and accessible, so you don’t need to be a scholar  or a theologian to benefit.  There are a lot of resources which contain the information this book does.  But this is a good book for what it attempts to do and who it intends to reach.

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