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The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ [Paperback]

Gary R. Habermas
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 3, 1996 0899007325 978-0899007328
Habermas provides evidence that a man named Jesus really did live in Palestine in the first century, using the ordinary canons of historical research (artifactual evidence, inscriptional evidence, and literary evidence).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: College Press Publishing Company, Inc. (June 3, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0899007325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0899007328
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Gary R. Habermas is Distinguished Research Professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy at Liberty University. He also teaches in the Ph.D. program in theology and apologetics at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He earned the Ph.D. at Michigan State University and the M.A. from the University of Detroit.

He has authored, coauthored, or edited thirty-nine books and contributed more than sixty-five chapters or articles to other books. He has also written well over one hundred articles and reviews for journals and other publications. While his chief areas of research (and the topic of twenty of his books) are issues related to Jesus' resurrection, he has also published frequently on the afterlife, near death experiences, as well as the subjects of suffering and religious doubt.

Over the past fourteen years, he has often been a visiting or adjunct professor, having taught courses at some fifteen different graduate schools and seminaries in the United States and abroad. He and his wife, Eileen, have seven children and thirteen grandchildren, all of whom live in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Visit Gary Habermas' website ( to access many publications as well as video and audio presentations.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
239 of 274 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let's stick to the facts... October 11, 2000
Habermas shows the difference between honest literary/historical investigation & bias proclamations. He's not afraid to take on skeptics, meeting their hypotheses head-on. He not only details opposing viewpoints, but provides heavily footnoted sources to back up his argument that Jesus is not a myth "created" by man, but a real man whose "historical" life is "reported" with so much evidence that it's hard to ignore.
In several other book reviews, I noticed skeptics (giving poor reviews) don't meet Habermas' facts head-on. Instead, they fall far short by countering his well-documented thesis with bold opinions they can't back up with evidence. For instance, one reviewer wrote "How can we evaluate the evidence for Jesus? Our best account is the Gospel of Mark, written thirty years after Jesus died. ... Once Christians started mourning Jesus, historians recorded the movement. Does that mean Jesus was real? Okay, but it doesn't mean the Resurrection was real, or that Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. All of these mythical touches were invented after Jesus died, so he could "predict" events that happened between the time he died and the time the Gospels were composed. All of this leads us to the conclusion that there is no real evidence whether Jesus actually lived or not. The story is what sold, and the story isn't true."
What he fails to see is his own account contradicts his claim, and proves false itself. According to his own words, Mark, our "best account" (of Jesus' life) was written "30 years after Jesus died;" thus putting Mark written c.60-63AD, since scholars (even skeptics) agree Jesus' death was around 30-33AD.
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196 of 225 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even-handedness Is Always Persuasive July 15, 2000
By A Customer
Habermas provides evidence that a man named Jesus really did live in Palestine in the first century, using the ordinary canons of historical research (artifactual evidence, inscriptional evidence, and literary evidence). Because Habermas concludes that Jesus was a real person in history, many atheists will be offended by this book (as evidenced by the negative reviews). However, the evidence that Jesus lived is actually better than the evidence that Mark Antony or Cleopatra lived. In one long negative review of this book, the reviewer embraced many statements by skeptics and critics exercising much less critical discernment than he used in evaluating the book. Also, the reviewer made statements like "it is virtually universal" when the statement being made actually is not. Do not be put off by negative reviews. Read this book and make up your mind for yourself. Another book on the same topic is Josh McDowell, "He Walked Among Us." Try stacking up the evidence these two books provide against, say, whether Mark Antony ever really existed. (E.g., were the ancient people that wrote about Mark Antony's life either eyewitnesses of Mark Antony, or did they at least have access to people who were eyewitnesses? This kind of corroboration in ancient history is rare indeed, but that is precisely the kind of corrobation one finds in both the Gospels and Paul). Of course, there will never be a debate about Mark Antony because there isn't as much at stake. Keep this in mind when you read negative reviews. Neither negative reviews nor positive ones are completely objective, a fact that is clearly evident in both types of reviews for this book.
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56 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So, he was who he said he was! October 22, 1999
By A Customer
J.P. Moreland's quote on the back of the book pretty much says it all:
"...a careful, accessible analysis and critique of the various approaches to the historical Jesus... I don't know how someone could read this book without concluding that Jesus Christ was who the New Testament proclaimed Him to be."
I went into this book expecting the same cliched responses that I've read in other apologetic books on Jesus. (for example, a parroting of the MAPS approach). Rather, I found a thoughtful and thorough examination of both biblical and extra-biblical information on the subject followed by reasonable conclusions drawn from both types of sources. Habermas also refutes various arguments put forward by members of the Jesus Seminar and liberal scholars who deny the authenticity of Jesus's claims and actions. For those who would readily dismiss the book on the basis that it was written by a 'fundamentalist', I simply ask that you read it with your brains wide open. Don't worry, they won't fall out.
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61 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historically accurate using mostly secular sources November 7, 2003
By Enigma
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To fully understand this book and the reviews posted here one must comprehend that in modern day world there are three distinct groups that research the bible they can be broken down as follows
1 The Christians (Those people who believe that the bible is the word of god of which Gary Habermas would fall under)
2 The Liberal Scholars (This group is made up of people who are trying to show that the bible is completely wrong and man made and in some cases that Jesus was not a historical figure.)
3 The Secular Historians (The largest of the three groups whose goal seems to be historical accuracy without commenting on the theistic aspect, they virtually unanimously agree that Jesus Christ did exist and probably preformed miracles although they label them as magic and was considered to be either the son of god or a great prophet.)
What is surprising about this book is that while it is written by a Christian to help forward his Christian beliefs it is quite obvious that the author has stuck mostly to the work of the Secular Historians. In some cases he has erred on the liberal side of the secular historians sometimes not presenting the cases as strongly as one would think he could.
This raises an interesting point in reviewing this book. While I would think that he would rely solely on Christian sources he does not, instead he proves his point in a highly convincing way using Secular sources. I applaud the author and I hope that more of the naysayers and negative reviewers could be so truthful. It would be interesting to see if a liberal scholar could uphold their position using only secular sources. I doubt it, but I don't think they would even try.
Anyhow back to this book, I found it fair, historically accurate, slightly dated, but then again any book dealing with history is dated as soon as it is written and best of all enjoyable for those who are non-Christians but enjoy history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars The missed Memo
I am assuming the author has missed the various memos on the refutation of a historical Jesus. There is NO evidence for Jesus. Read more
Published on May 30, 2011 by Vahan Setyan
3.0 out of 5 stars A classic text: readers seeking to justify their beliefs will be...
Most biblical scholars today appreciate that researchers bring their own beliefs and prejudices into the evidence - but then they go ahead and make a "case" or "proof" regardless. Read more
Published on April 3, 2011 by Derek Murphy
1.0 out of 5 stars not a very academic book
This book was much less academic than I was hoping for. Habermas continually lifts up the same "evidence" over and over again, and makes claims that 'many scholars agree' with him... Read more
Published on March 29, 2011 by Chris
1.0 out of 5 stars Faith is a poor place to start...
This book puts the cart before the horse. Jesus existed, he was resurrected by god, and therefore christianity is true and valid today. Read more
Published on March 10, 2010 by Gerard Lloyd Scarff
1.0 out of 5 stars More Apologetic Dribble
If you "believe" in the words of the Bible and that's enough for you -- THEN THIS IS YOUR BOOK! However, if you are truly looking for what the title claims to provide-THIS IS NOT... Read more
Published on October 12, 2009 by FRAP38
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical, Scholarly work on the real Jesus
I am convinced that this is THE book to give to anyone who doubts the historical fact of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Read more
Published on June 4, 2009 by Bobby Bambino
5.0 out of 5 stars Great - insightful work
A very interesting writing for those interested in the histroical Jesus. Well written arguments, etc.
Published on December 20, 2008 by F. Fifer
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes a pretty good case for the historicity of Jesus
Just finished reading this book today. Overall, the historical Christian and non-Christian evidence cited was pretty thorough. Read more
Published on February 14, 2008 by FerrariF1Fan
5.0 out of 5 stars Grab your shovel were digging into History
I read this to get a broader prospective of the historical evidences for Jesus after reading Case for Christ. Read more
Published on September 20, 2007 by J. Lake
5.0 out of 5 stars Jesus Who?
Haabermas is the Master when it comes to presenting verifiable evidence for the proof of the Resurrection. Ask yourself, "what if Jesus is real? What if He did come back to life? Read more
Published on March 8, 2007 by Edward Parton
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