I understood that this book was written by a cynical journalist who believed as a result of his investigation. While this may be true, the book was written several years after his conversion, and is not presented in an unbiased manner.
Let’s begin with the time factor. The author’s bio on the back cover
indicates that the author has been a Christian since 1981, but this
books is copyrighted in 1998. The last chapter of the books states that
the author went to books and research materials in his quest, rather
than to experts as he did in this book. I would have been more
interested in a collection of those research materials than I was in the
interviews with the experts.
At the end of each chapter there are ‘study’ questions, which are really aimed at bible study groups, or groups of Christians. The whole tilt of the questions is ‘How does this help you believe more strongly in Christ.’ For example, after a chapter on possible corroborating evidence, the questions include ‘What do you consider to be the most persuasive corroboration that Yamauchi [the interviewee] talked about’?
The chapter on dissenting evidence also pointed out the author’s bias. Rather than go to an ‘expert’ who was a dissenter, the author went to an ‘expert’ who could rebut the dissent! Why, in a truly unbiased work, would you not go to one of the dissenters? Then, if needed, go to the rebuttal expert.
I had high hopes for a book that was objectively written, but this one is not it. Because the author’s belief system so clearly taints the product, I can’t put any faith in his conclusions. He may be right, but I would have to do all of the research for myself, as I don’t trust him to be fair to the evidence. It’s unfortunate that he is so obviously biased; an unbiased examination of the ‘reality’ of Christ would have been interesting. As it is, while the investigation the author undertook may have been without a slant, this book is definitely slanted. Perhaps it is just as well that the author did not disguise his bias; if he had, I might have placed my trust in his report, without realizing his bias.