Monday, March 29, 2010

Book Review: More Than a Carpenter, Revised Edition

book cover

More Than a Carpenter, Revised Edition
by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell

Trade Paperback: 190 pages
Publisher: Tyndale
First Released: 2009

Source: Bought from Books-A-Million.

Book Description (from publisher website, slightly modified):
The inspirational classic, More than a Carpenter, is now updated for a new generation of seekers with a fresh look, revised material, and a new chapter that addresses questions commonly raised today, especially by today’s popular atheist writers.

Former skeptic Josh McDowell is now joined by his son Sean as they examine the evidence about Jesus. Is he really the Lord he claimed to be? How can we know for sure? More than a Carpenter offers arguments for faith from a skeptic turned believer and has introduced countless people to the real Jesus.

More Than a Carpenter is a book that defends the Christian faith. The authors pack a lot of information into this slim book, but it's written with a conversational tone and is easy to read and understand.

The authors used common questions they've been asked during talks to start most of the sections, then they answer them using information they've discovered themselves or by quoting other experts. In this revised edition, they added updated material and a new section on science to answer newer objections that have been raised.

They convincingly answer the most common objections or doubts about the Bible and Jesus. However, I do wish they had put chapter six directly after chapter one since a reader can validly criticize the "Lord, Liar, or Lunatic" argument if you haven't already proven that the Bible is an accurate record of the words and actions of Jesus.

The main questions answered were: Did Jesus really claim to be God? Can't he just be a good, moral teacher? Doesn't science prove that the Bible is wrong? Atheists can be moral and religion has caused the worst suffering in the world, so shouldn't we get rid of it? Wasn't the New Testament written long after Jesus lived, so how can we believe it's a reliable account of what happened?

It also brought up how the disciples changed from thinking they were wrong about Jesus and hiding in fear to proclaiming a risen Messiah; the missing body of Jesus that no one ever brought out to prove the disciples wrong; and the change of Saul/Paul from hunting down those who believed in Jesus as the Messiah to preaching that Jesus was the Messiah. Also, evidence that Jesus really did die and really did come back from the dead; that Jesus really was the Messiah (using Old Testament prophesy); and why Jesus is the only way "to heaven."

I'd highly recommend this book to all Christians and to those who have honest questions.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter Six, pages 71-73)
We can appreciate the tremendous wealth of manuscript authority for the New Testament by comparing it to textual material available to support other notable ancient writings.

The history of Thucydides (460-400 BC) is available to us from only eight manuscripts dated about AD 900, almost thirteen hundred years after he wrote. The manuscripts of the history of Herodotus are likewise late and scarce. And yet, as F.F. Bruce, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester, concludes,

No classical scholar would listen to an argument that the authenticity of Herodotus or Thucydides is in doubt because the earliest manuscripts of their works which are of use to us are over 1,300 years later than the originals.

Aristotle wrote his poetics around 343 BC, and yet the earliest copy we have is dated AD 1100 (a gap of almost fourteen hundred years), and only forty-nine manuscripts exist.

Caesar composed his history of the Gallic Wars between 58 and 50 BC, and its manuscript authority rests on nine or ten copies dating one thousand years after his death.

Bruce Metzger, author or editor of fifty books on the manuscript authority of the New Testament looks at other first-century notables:

Consider Tacitus, the Roman historian who wrote his Annals of Imperial Rome in about A.D. 116. His first six books exist today in only one manuscript, and it was copied about A.D. 850. Books eleven through sixteen are in another manuscript dating from the eleventh century. Books seven through ten are lost. So there is a long gap between the time that Tacitus sought his information and wrote it down and the only existing copies.

With regard to the first-century historian Josephus, we have nine Greek manuscripts of his work, The Jewish War, and these copies were written in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries. There is a Latin translation from the fourth century and medieval Russian materials from the eleventh or twelfth century.

"The quality of the New Testament material," confesses Metzger, "is almost embarrassing in comparison with other works of antiquity."

When I first wrote this book in 1977, I was able to document forty-six hundred Greek manuscripts of the Bible, abundantly more source material than exists for any other book written in antiquity. As of this writing, even more Greek manuscripts have been found, and I can now document more than fifty-six hundred of them.

Read table of contents and chapter one.


Teena in Toronto said...

Happy blogoversary!

Genre Reviewer said...

Thanks, Teena! It's funny that I keep forgetting, and it doesn't help that my Blogoversary counter is apparently wrong...but this is the day! :)