Last month finished a great, new book Karma of Jesus by Mark Herringshaw. It was an incredible book dealing with the tough questions of Christianity, and comparing the idea of Karma, a buzz word in our culture, across religions and against the cross of Christ. It was listed by Outreach Magazine as one of the best outreach books of the year in 2010. Mark currently works for YWAM International.
Part of it I couldn't help but share with you:
"Reached into my satchel for a book I was reviewing called Questions of Life by Nicky Gumbel. Gumbel started the Alpha course, an introduction to Christianity, which began in Great Britain and has now grown around the world. In his book, Gumbel makes a succinct argument for the reliability of the accounts of Jesus' life. Not proof, but good evidence. I thumbed through it quickly and found a chart he present comparing the records of Jesus with those relaying other "facts" of ancient history.
"We believe that Julius Caesar was a real person and that what we know about him is mostly accurate history, right?"
"I suppose," Andrew conceded.
I turned the book toward him so he could make the comparison. "We have ten manuscripts of Caesar's Gallic War, and the oldest is dated AD 900, nearly one thousand years after the actual events. Livy's Roman History - we have twenty manuscripts dated from around AD 900. We accept our knowledge of ancient Greek history from writers like Herodotus. But we have only eight texts of his works, copied thirteen hundred years after his death. Compare these to existing copies of accounts of Jesus' life and teachings. We have nearly twenty five thousand manuscripts of the New Testament, all nearly identical in content, dated within three hundred years of Jesus' time. Any objective historian would say we know more about Jesus than any other person in antiquity."
"Even so, he didn't write anything himself," replied Andrew. "These stories were spun by people with an agenda to protect their own power base. They aren't objective."
"Okay, the New Testament is biased. But the writers never claim objectivity. They are advocates, and say so. But these writers aren't out to protect their own reputation. They depict themselves in the stories as bumbling clods. It's Jesus, by contrast, who looks, well, perfect."
"Nothing really. But if the New Testament is all spin, what is the agenda? What's the spin for? If these texts intend to bolster the authority of church leaders, they fail hands down. Front to back it casts light on Jesus alone. 'Heroes' like Peter and John come off as cowards and dimwits. Jesus alone is the agenda! Yet as you said, he's not the one writing. It's biased with no benefit to those being biased. Quite the opposite: The better they make Jesus look the more threat to their lives. After all, they're associating themselves with a convicted criminal and leader of a movement at war with a powerful establishment. Writing good words about Jesus brought these guys nothing but trouble. They must have believed their propaganda. At least it smells authentic" (101-102).