Home > Culture > Investigating Jesus: A Historian’s Quest

Investigating Jesus: A Historian’s Quest

Lion (Oxford)

2010, RRP $29.95

Reviewed by Peter Harvey, Rural Ministry Associate, Presbytery of Western Australia.

Investigating Jesus is a large-format illustrated book (from the high-quality Lion stable) in which the author investigates the historical evidence of the existence of Jesus Christ.

Dickson presents us with a book entirely about history and about how historians do their job.

It is not a theological book; and it is not religious propaganda aiming to persuade people to become Christians.

Rather, it offers a good introduction to anyone wanting to learn the tools and strategies available to historians, and it demonstrates how they've been applied in examining the evidence regarding Jesus.

As Dickson himself says, he seeks to bridge the gap between popular perception and scholarly judgement about the figure of Jesus.

By putting together various evidences and research carried out throughout history since the death and resurrection of Jesus, and by using non-Christian references as well as New Testament records, Dickson concludes that the evidence from all these sources leads all reputable historians to agree that a Jewish teacher named Jesus really did live and die in the first part of the first century CE.

However, rather than simply saying we have proof in history, Dickson calls it "very high probability".

I have always enjoyed reading history, and I found Investigating Jesus a great introduction.

If you've never considered the reliability of the evidence for Jesus, then here's a place to start.

And if you're after an easy to read, well-illustrated, clearly argued book on the historical bedrock of Christianity, then I recommend this one.

At the end of the day, this is a "second order" book, however: it's like an instruction manual that shows how something works and helps you to use it.

Investigating Jesus is aimed at helping the reader to investigate Jesus, but it is not an alternative to investigating Jesus for yourself.

Reading this book will better equip you to go back to the primary sources, read them over and over, and weigh up their implications.

If that is something you've never done this before, let me encourage you to get hold of Investigating Jesus and start now.