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Book review: "Evidence that demands a verdict"

Updated on November 29, 2015

Do you think the Bible is heavily supported by historical evidence?

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Introduction:

“There is no evidence for the authenticity of the Bible” says the critic on television. “Although it is a source of inspiration for the faithful.” If there is no evidence for the Bible's reliability, why should we believe at all? Why should we believe that the Bible is the Truth when it fails to provide us with evidence for it's characters, events, and places? What separates from other religions and superstitions? If your one of many who have these troubling questions that shake your faith and demand the Truth then you are ready to read “Evidence that demands a verdict” authored by Josh McDowell.

My thoughts:

This book gives a wealth of neatly organized and accurate information by a variety of experts supporting the reliability of the Bible. It outlines the brief history of how both testaments were transmitted to us. “Evidence that demands a verdict” is user friendly as it educates you on what materials the Bible was written in, who wrote it, how the canon formed, and more. It lists evidence for the existence of biblical people, the accuracy of recorded events, and of the Bible's reliability to the original text.

While this book has it's strong points, i thought it could make some major improvements to easily enhance the reader's understanding of the book. Josh McDowell gives a list of many sources but doesn't explain it's significance to the Bible in full detail. He is quick to make conclusions rather than further elaborate his arguments. I've also felt he didn't keep his systematic study of Scriptures consistent throughout the book. In many chapters he cites very informative sources to verify the Bible's claims but in some, he resorts to personal testimony. In page 185, for example, he states that “the resurrection is an event in history wherein God acted in a definite time-space dimension” as if it's proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. He successfully silences the critics but doesn't strongly fulfill his burden of proof that Christ has risen. Throughout the whole chapter, he argues mostly from the Gospel accounts rather than give solid physical evidence that Jesus had resurrected.

In another example, the author claims to give historical evidence for the virgin birth but only cites witnesses living after the 1st century. Some accounts differ while others simply affirm what the gospels say on the subject. He argues on the grounds that if these Gospel accounts are false, the Christian faith is meaningless.

The Kingdom of the Hittites
The Kingdom of the Hittites

"In the 14th century B.C. the Hittites became the supreme political and military power in the Near East. How did they achieve their supremacy? How successful were they in maintaining it? What brought about their collapse and disappearance? This comprehensive history of the Hittite kingdom seeks to answer these questions. It takes account of important recent advances in Hittite scholarship, including some major archaeological discoveries made in the last few years. It also features numerous translations from the original texts, so that on many issues the ancient Hittites are given the opportunity to speak to the modern reader for themselves. The revised edition contains a substantial amount of new material, as well as numerous other revisions to the first edition."

 

The Hittites:

Despite faltering in those areas, the author provides impressive arguments in defense of the Bible. Critics have mocked the legitimacy of Scripture by stating that there's no evidence for many key characters, civilizations, places, or events mentioned. For example, some claim that there were no Hittites in the time of Abraham since no other records on them exist, therefore it's a myth made to add color to the narrative. Page 22 says

“The 'assured results of higher criticism' said there were no Hittites during the time of Abraham, for there were no records of them outside the Old Testament. They must be a myth. Well, wrong again. As a result of archeology, there are now hundreds of references overlapping more than 1,200 years of Hittite civilization...” (1)

In the genealogy of Esau, the Horites are mentioned. It was thought they were cave-dwellers as the Hebrew suggests but now it's known from excavations they were prominent warriors in the Near East (2)

The reliability of Acts:

The book of Acts was found to be historically reliable by a leading expert.

“Sir William Ramsay is regarded as one of the greatest archaeologists ever to have lived. He was a student in the German historical school of the mid 19th century. As a result, he believed that the books of acts was a product of the mid 2nd century A.D. He was firmly convinced of this belief. In his research to make a topographical study of asia minor he was compelled to consider the writings of Luke. As a result, he was forced to do a complete reversal his beliefs due to the overwhelming evidence uncovered in his research. He spoke of his when he said “i may fairly claim to have entered on this investigation without prejudice in favor of the conclusion which i shall now seek to justify to the reader. On the contrary, i begin with a mind unfavorable to it, for the ingenuity and aparrent completeness of the tubingen theory had at 1 time quite convinced me. It did not then lie at my line of life to investigate the subject minutely; but more recently i found myself brought into contact with the book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and societies of asia minor. It was gradually borne upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth. In fact, beginning with a fixed idea that the work was essentially a 2nd century composition, and never relying on it's evidence as trustworthy for 1st century conditions, i gradually came to find it a useful ally in some obscure and difficult investigations..” (3)

Prophecy:

Critics claim that prophecy is either mere coincidence or self fulfilling. They will also claim that the prophecies were written after the fact they happened. The evidence for this presented by the book is on the contrary.

“As far as the question of dating of prophecies goes, many people will attack predictive prophecy from the standard of post-dating, that is, placing the time of the prophecy after the event of the fulfillment rather than before. Unfortunately for the critic, these prophets make their prophecies very clear – the tenses are very obvious....All of the Old Testament prophets were translated into Greek in the Greek Septuagint by about 280-250 B.C. Therefore, we can assume that all of the prophets were written before this time.” (4)

Peter Stoner, author of science speak, wrote this on prophecy:

No human being has ever made predictions which hold any comparison to those we have considered, and had them accurately come true. The span of time between the writing of these prophecies and their fulfillment is so great that the most severe critic cannot claim that the predictions were made after the events happened.” 53/115 and further, “others may say that these accounts in the Bible are not prophecies, but historical accounts written after the events happened. This is absurd, for all of these prophecies are found in the Old Testament, and everyone will date it's writing before Christ. One of these prophecies was completely fulfilled before Christ. Two had small parts fulfilled before Christ and the remaining parts after Christ. All other prophecies considered were completely fulfilled after Christ. If we were to strike out all estimates given for parts of prophecies fulfilled before Christ, our probability number would still be so large that the strength of its argument could not be comprehended” (5)


Conclusion:

Although i paraphrased the findings, the book presents more evidence in greater detail. In conclusion, this book presents a thorough investigation of the Bible's authenticity. It provides a solid basis for the skeptic and believer alike to build their faith on.

Sources:

1. McDowell, Josh. Evidence that demands a verdict. California: Life Publishers Inc.,22.1972.

2. McDowell, Josh. Evidence that demands a verdict. California: Life Publishers Inc.,69.1972.

3. McDowell, Josh. Evidence that demands a verdict. California: Life Publishers Inc.,71.1972.

4. McDowell, Josh. Evidence that demands a verdict. California: Life Publishers Inc.,270-271.1972.

5. McDowell, Josh. Evidence that demands a verdict. California: Life Publishers Inc., 272.1972.

After reading this review, are you open to the idea of finding evidence for the Bible?

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