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Is the New Testament Reliable? Paperback – January 9, 2005
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"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?)
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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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very good book. I'm very glad I read it. It made my faith a wee bit stronger. It all comes down to if the authors were telling the truth, which the author strongly supports as... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Arthur J. Grady
This is a well written book that answers some important questions in a logical and interesting way. A great resource.Published on February 26, 2014 by Carol Sisson
This book helps Christians answer the common criticisms of the Bible. It was well written, easy to read, and informative. Read morePublished on October 19, 2013 by Cheryl
I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to take an honest look at the historical reliability of the New Testament. Read morePublished on September 29, 2012 by Mr. Jackson
This gets a little technical in places, but overall it is very accessible. What most people don't understand is that the ancient records of Jesus Christ far outweigh the records... Read morePublished on March 17, 2012 by RuggedShark
A very good read for any bible study student or anyone who would like to know the answer to the question.Published on February 8, 2012 by Jack
I loved this book and the analytical approach to the reliability of the NT. The author takes a strictly historical approach that proves the accuracy of the biblical accounts... Read morePublished on March 28, 2011 by M. Baughman