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A Doubter's Guide to Jesus: An Introduction to the Man from Nazareth for Believers and Skeptics

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A Doubter's Guide to Jesus is an introduction to the major portraits of Jesus found in the earliest historical sources. Portraits because our best information points not to a tidy, monolithic Jesus, but to a complex, multi-layered and, at times, contradictory figure. While some might be troubled by this, fearing that plurality equals incomprehensibility or unreliability, o A Doubter's Guide to Jesus is an introduction to the major portraits of Jesus found in the earliest historical sources. Portraits because our best information points not to a tidy, monolithic Jesus, but to a complex, multi-layered and, at times, contradictory figure. While some might be troubled by this, fearing that plurality equals incomprehensibility or unreliability, others take it as an invitation to do some rearranging for themselves, trying to make Jesus neater, more systematic and digestible. After two millennia of spiritual devotion and more than two centuries of modern critical research, we still cannot fit Jesus into a box. He is destined to stretch our imaginations, confront our beliefs, and challenge our lifestyles for many years to come. In A Doubter's Guide to Jesus readers will find themselves both disturbed and intrigued by the images of Jesus found in the first sources.


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A Doubter's Guide to Jesus is an introduction to the major portraits of Jesus found in the earliest historical sources. Portraits because our best information points not to a tidy, monolithic Jesus, but to a complex, multi-layered and, at times, contradictory figure. While some might be troubled by this, fearing that plurality equals incomprehensibility or unreliability, o A Doubter's Guide to Jesus is an introduction to the major portraits of Jesus found in the earliest historical sources. Portraits because our best information points not to a tidy, monolithic Jesus, but to a complex, multi-layered and, at times, contradictory figure. While some might be troubled by this, fearing that plurality equals incomprehensibility or unreliability, others take it as an invitation to do some rearranging for themselves, trying to make Jesus neater, more systematic and digestible. After two millennia of spiritual devotion and more than two centuries of modern critical research, we still cannot fit Jesus into a box. He is destined to stretch our imaginations, confront our beliefs, and challenge our lifestyles for many years to come. In A Doubter's Guide to Jesus readers will find themselves both disturbed and intrigued by the images of Jesus found in the first sources.

30 review for A Doubter's Guide to Jesus: An Introduction to the Man from Nazareth for Believers and Skeptics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Patrick S.

    This book is a good example of what it means to give the other side a foothold and pretend there is neutral ground. For any of the good point Dickson makes it's underscored by giving up the traditional and biblical standpoint in favor of natural history. This is a stance that shouldn't be taken up by the Christian and is not genuinely made. While Dickson makes some valid points about what you bring in from your worldview says about the evidence presented to you, he does not make the point throug This book is a good example of what it means to give the other side a foothold and pretend there is neutral ground. For any of the good point Dickson makes it's underscored by giving up the traditional and biblical standpoint in favor of natural history. This is a stance that shouldn't be taken up by the Christian and is not genuinely made. While Dickson makes some valid points about what you bring in from your worldview says about the evidence presented to you, he does not make the point throughout and gives the doubter the point. What his argument boils down to is the possibility of Jesus being God and the Bible talking about Him in probability but not in divine revelation. I understand what Dickson is trying to do but he gives up his position immediately. There are also many times where Dickson is just plain wrong in many of his assertions. For example, Jesus never calls His disciples to believe anything. What? A matter-of-fact statement about there being a Q document and what it says. Ya, good luck trying to actually show that. His chapter on Jesus being Adam misses the comparison almost completely. His example using the Prodigal Son misseses the audience and half the story. Dickson's view of the early Church, the Atonement of Christ, and how salvation comes about could use some further reading and study. I would not recommend this book to many people for the above reasons. Final Grade - D+

  2. 4 out of 5

    Barry

    This is a good introduction to the reasons why Christianity is reasonable. It’s up to date, and the author covers recent scholarship in an evenhanded way, but I didn’t feel that I learned a great deal. It’s probably just because I’ve read too many books of this type, and not the fault of the author. It’s definitely one of the better ones in the bunch. He also does a great job of directing the reader to other books for more in-depth analysis of certain topics. I think it could be very helpful for This is a good introduction to the reasons why Christianity is reasonable. It’s up to date, and the author covers recent scholarship in an evenhanded way, but I didn’t feel that I learned a great deal. It’s probably just because I’ve read too many books of this type, and not the fault of the author. It’s definitely one of the better ones in the bunch. He also does a great job of directing the reader to other books for more in-depth analysis of certain topics. I think it could be very helpful for people who mistakenly believe that The DaVinci Code accurately describes the origin of the church.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Goldsmith

    A handy, helpful and easy read. This book is not looking to make any categorical statements about whether Jesus actually rose from the dead or not. Rather, Dickson seeks to look at all the historical evidence for the life, teaching and crucifixion of Christ. He certainly looks at the claim that Jesus also rose, but his focus is more on the reality that this has been part of Christian history from the beginning, not just a Constantinian addition. If you want to cut through the "Dan Brown" mess and A handy, helpful and easy read. This book is not looking to make any categorical statements about whether Jesus actually rose from the dead or not. Rather, Dickson seeks to look at all the historical evidence for the life, teaching and crucifixion of Christ. He certainly looks at the claim that Jesus also rose, but his focus is more on the reality that this has been part of Christian history from the beginning, not just a Constantinian addition. If you want to cut through the "Dan Brown" mess and look at solid history, this is a great book for you!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Campbell J. Brice

    A measured and comprehensive overview of who Jesus is and the good news about him. Written for a popular audience while including references to best scholarship, it does a great job of placing Jesus in his Jewish and Roman context. Useful as a basis of devotional reflection on Christ as well as an apologetic resource. Could have included an explicit summary of the gospel, and a chapter on the “Son of Man” to tie together the various aspects of Jesus’ identity and mission—but then the Son of Man’s A measured and comprehensive overview of who Jesus is and the good news about him. Written for a popular audience while including references to best scholarship, it does a great job of placing Jesus in his Jewish and Roman context. Useful as a basis of devotional reflection on Christ as well as an apologetic resource. Could have included an explicit summary of the gospel, and a chapter on the “Son of Man” to tie together the various aspects of Jesus’ identity and mission—but then the Son of Man’s a hobbyhorse of mine. 4.5 stars.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robert McDonald

    Similar to Keller's works introducing the Christian faith to outsiders, but with a self-deprecating wit and welcome perspective from someone who isn't American. A great read. Similar to Keller's works introducing the Christian faith to outsiders, but with a self-deprecating wit and welcome perspective from someone who isn't American. A great read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carey Nelson

    We've been working through this book in a small group at my church. I was a little confused by the title at first. I'm not a doubter; why should I read this book? I was encouraged, however, to join the investigation of Jesus, and we were off. I'm told John Dickson is a historian as well as a pastor. He spends each chapter focusing on an aspect of Jesus' time on earth and examining it through available records. Some of the chapter topics surprised me. Those chapters often held the most surprises i We've been working through this book in a small group at my church. I was a little confused by the title at first. I'm not a doubter; why should I read this book? I was encouraged, however, to join the investigation of Jesus, and we were off. I'm told John Dickson is a historian as well as a pastor. He spends each chapter focusing on an aspect of Jesus' time on earth and examining it through available records. Some of the chapter topics surprised me. Those chapters often held the most surprises in them as well. I appreciated Mr. Dickson's historian's approach. It made the book worthwhile. His moments as pastor were also welcomed as he always gave (I felt) thoughtful and pointed admonishment. I can see myself going through this book again very soon. It is worth your time.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tom Goodwin

    Thoughtful, honest and informative. I enjoyed seeing Jesus clearly as a historical figure with so many dimensions and so many names and titles. Exploring each one challenges my faith and inspires me to worship more fully knowing what I’ve learned from these pages. John Dickson writes in a way that my most content and spiritually uninterested friends would be intrigued and willing to read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Luke Koskinen

    Equal parts academic and simple, which is hard to do. This is the kind of book that is enjoyable and though-provoking to read through once, and will be a great resource to have and pick up from time to time when thinking about specific qualities of Jesus.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kaelyn Sturgell

    This is a great book for someone that has questions and reservations about Christianity, someone looking to gain more knowledge for evangelism, and/or someone just wanting a diverse read on the topic of Jesus. Highly recommend!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nate Clark

    A great book providing evidence from multiple sources (historical, Christian, Judaism, Muslim, etc). John Dickson stays fairly neutral in his investigations while providing details and points of evidence that lead toward discovering Jesus more or for the first time.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joe Haack

    Dickson is one of my favorite writers. He is humble, clear, rigorous, and pastoral. 5 stars because there are so many bad "biographies of Jesus" out there. This manages to be fresh and ancient, interesting and orthodox. I would hand this to anybody. Dickson is one of my favorite writers. He is humble, clear, rigorous, and pastoral. 5 stars because there are so many bad "biographies of Jesus" out there. This manages to be fresh and ancient, interesting and orthodox. I would hand this to anybody.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    About half this book is interesting and convincing. Represents ancient historians well. The other half is padding.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Zeiler

    It was full of historic content, just not really the guide book I was expecting

  14. 4 out of 5

    Josie Martin

    This is a wonderful book for those who are looking for some answers in regards to faith and Jesus. It is a great read to do with a group or bible study!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jacqui Eames

    Brilliant!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Faith Ganchua

    Prompted some good discussions in my small group but the book itself wasn't engaging for me. Prompted some good discussions in my small group but the book itself wasn't engaging for me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brian Duchek

    Just not worth the effort.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Heather Mayle

    Very good! It really helps you learn a lot about different characteristics of Jesus.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Luke Williams

    Very good little book looking through historical claims of a Christ and Christianity and counteracting some of the common misconceptions. Really enjoyed the chapter on Jesus being the new Temple.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Molly Sawyer

    Excellent.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Excellent book on the Christian and secular history of Jesus.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Solid and well-researched guide to Jesus. Informative and helpful for skeptics and believers alike. A very engaging read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Venn Hardy

  24. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  25. 5 out of 5

    David Korff

  26. 4 out of 5

    Victor Mallin

  27. 5 out of 5

    Christer

  28. 5 out of 5

    Elly

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erica Rehm

  30. 4 out of 5

    Isaac

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