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Is the New Testament Reliable? Paperback – January 9, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I know of no other book which in short compass does such an excellent job." (James W. Sire, author of The Universe Next Door and Why Should Anyone Believe Anything at All?)

"It is good news that Dr. Barnett's book is available. He shows how perfectly the account of Jesus and his followers fits into history." (F. F. Bruce, author of The Canon of Scripture and The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?)

About the Author

Barnett (Ph.D., London University), was until his retirement Anglican bishop of North Sydney, Australia. He remains a visiting fellow in ancient history at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia) and research professor at Regent College (Vancouver, British Columbia). He has written several books.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 197 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic; 02 edition (January 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830827684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830827688
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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75 of 82 people found the following review helpful By George P. Wood VINE VOICE on April 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
Is the New Testament an historically reliable source of information about Jesus and the early church?

According to a number of contemporary scholars, the answer to that question is no. For example, Robert Funk and the members of the Jesus Seminar argue that Jesus did not say or perform a majority of the words and actions attributed to him in the Gospels. Elaine Pagels and Bart Ehrman argue that multiple versions of Christianity competed for the allegiance of the faithful in the early centuries of the church. The books of the New Testament - and the history and theology they communicate - are simply the documents of that competition's winners, who went on to forcibly suppress alternative Christianities. Even popular media debunk the New Testament. Last year, just in time for Christmas, both Time and Newsweek ran cover stories that expressed skepticism about the veracity of details of Jesus' birth.

But these voices represent only one side an ongoing debate. Paul Barnett's Is the New Testament Reliable? is a representative of the other, affirmative side. Barnett is a churchman and a scholar - the former Anglican bishop of North Sydney, Australia, and currently a teaching fellow at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada, and a visiting fellow in ancient history at Macquarie University in Australia. He is the author of Jesus and the Rise of Early Christianity and Jesus and the Logic of History, among other books. The first volume of his trilogy, The Birth of Christianity: The First Twenty Years will be published in April by Eerdmans.

Four Questions

In Is the New Testament Reliable? Barnett argues that "Jesus and the first Christians are genuine figures of history and that they are faithfully and truthfully written about in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Darren Hewer on March 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
It seems to me that the most often quoted resource on this subject (for works written for lay-readers, anyways) is "The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?" by F.F Bruce, which was recently reprinted. I have read both Bruce's book and this one, "Is the New Testament Reliable?: A Look at the Historical Evidence" by Paul Barnett. I think that while Bruce's book is well written and quite detailed, I prefer this book, by Barnett, because it is easier to read and contains all of the information I was looking for.
I especially found chapters 2 ("Did Jesus Exist? Early Non-Christian References") and 3 ("Fixing the Time-Frame") to be succinctly written and clear. I still reference material found in these chapters.
The only problem I found was that many of the references for further reading at the end of the chapters are now out of print and/or hard to find. If you want more details on a specific subject, you may need to search out a dedicated source on that subject.
My only previous knowledge of this subject matter was from Lee Strobel's excellent "Case for Christ", and my purpose for buying this book was that I wanted to know more details about the historicity and accuracy of the Bible. I found what I was looking for here, and this is a simply terrific book which I recommend wholeheartedly.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Reed on March 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
Is the New Testament Reliable: A Look at the Historical Evidence (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press), by Paul Barnett (an Australian scholar who is currently bishop of North Sydney) is a fine evaluation of the subject. The book was first issued in 1986 by Hodder & Staughton as Is the New Testament History? It's an up-to-date entry in the abiding controversy concerning the historicity of the New Testament, and it's both readable and persuasive--an effort to evaluate the historical evidence without specifically arguing theories of inspiration or theological issues (though they are, of course, in the end unavoidable).
Barnett, in addition to his theological preparation, spent three years in a university studying Greek and Roman history, where he "came to appreciate how solid the evidence for Christianity was, relative to other great people and movements in antiquity" (p. 14). Consider the case of ben Kosiba, a self-styled "President of Israel" who led a three-year campaign against Rome which resulted, as Rome reacted, in the deaths of half a million Jews and the razing of a thousand villages. Before being executed by the Romans in 135 A.D., he made quite a stir. But, amazingly enough, we know virtually nothing about him; little evidence endured to tell his story!
Compare the ben Kosiba record with New Testament accounts of Jesus, and you discover how extensively they document the origins of Christianity. Even if you ignore the NT, extra-biblical sources support its basic details. It's obvious, for example, that Jesus actually existed (though some adamant skeptics have tried to disprove even that), for non-Christian sources such as Pliny, Tacitus, inscriptions at Pompey, and Josephus confirm it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stevie Jake on April 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was surprised that I learned so much from this book. I've read a decent amount of books on the New Testament so sometimes I feel like I wont learn that much more from a small book like Barnetts. I'm sure glad that I'm wrong! This book is packed with information regarding the Gospels, non-Christian sources of Jesus, Acts of the apostles and the letters of Paul.

I felt like the first few chapters dragged a little bit. But, the book began to intrigue me when Barnett started discussing the Gospels. He demonstrates how likely it is that Mark and John were based off eyewitness testimony. I hadn't heard his arguments before and for that I'm truly glad I bought this book. Barnett also highlights the accuracies of the Acts of the Apostles and the archeological discoveries that corroborate New Testament history. The author also has a short discussion on the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke and affirms a historical core.

Overall, this book is definitely insightful. I learned much more than I anticipated I would. I recommend this book to anybody who is new to or wishes to be further enlightened in New Testament studies.
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