The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. By Gary R. Habermas and Michael L. Licona. Grand Rapids, MI. Kregel Publishers; 352 pages.
In the midst of countless intellectual assaults upon the historical tenets of Christian Orthodoxy that have taken place within the past few decades, there have arisen a few substantive and noteworthy texts that attempt to defend the veracity of such historical events as the Resurrection, the core of the Christian message (1 Cor. 15:14-17). One cannot help but think of The Son Rises written by Christian philosopher William Lane Craig or the hallmark historical work The Resurrection of the Son of God by N. T. Wright. Yet, while being of immeasurable value, neither of these are quite as balanced in being both stereoscopic in their approach and accessible for the layperson as The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary R. Habermas and Michael L. Licona.
The book itself is divided into four major sections. While somewhat brief, Part One deals with the importance of the Resurrection as a crucial issue and an antecedent and causal issue to sharing the gospel. Further detail is given concerning the principles that historians commonly use in order to arrive at a cogent conclusion.
Part Two begins the task of explaining the popular “minimal facts approach” utilized by the authors and employed by numerous apologists. The idea here is that there should not be attached any unnecessary baggage to the Christian message when arguing for the historicity of the Resurrection. Thus, they consider only those claims that are accepted by virtually every single scholar, regardless of religious persuasion, that seriously studies the subject. This common ground acts as a sort of leverage or foundation. Once it can be shown that the best explanation of these facts is the bodily resurrection of Christ the task is done…well, almost.
The logical flow of the book leads to the critique of opposing theories in Part Three. What is unique and quite impressive concerning this work is the sheer amount of rival theories that are covered. The usual theories covered in other such books are mentioned (legend, non-historical genre, resurrection in other religions, fraud theory, wrong tomb, hallucination, vision, etc.) but others not treated elsewhere do not go unnoticed (gospel discrepancies, biased testimony, lack of records, historical agnosticism, alien theory and naturalism). These mentioned are not exhaustive of those covered and thus further illustrate the comprehensive nature of the text.
Part Four contains “other Issues” that are relevant and helpful for those attempting to become acquainted with related requisite information. The arguments presented are sound and great care has been taken to make them accessible to the reader. Such issues include the nature of the resurrection body, Jesus’ view of himself, God’s involvement and “the art of sharing”.
Finally, any review of this book would not be complete if there were no sort of commendation for the extra work performed in order to truly make it a tool for learning. The book includes a CD that is aimed at helping the reader test the knowledge they might have gained from the text. Furthermore, for those individuals that might want to participate in the dissemination of the truth of the Resurrection there is a detailed outline of all the arguments presented in the book and an extensive bibliography. This is intended to help facilitate teachers that might use this as a text in a classroom setting. This book should be, and for good reason, a text used by many to present the Christian faith as a historically viable option! Thanks Gary and Mike!