Paul Barnett’s Is the New Testament Reliable?

This is a fascinating book that will serve as an excellent introduction for any who are interested in an apologetic defense of the veracity of Scripture. Dr. Barnett is to be commended for producing a volume that is deep enough to cause the reader to think through new ideas yet still user friendly to those who may not be familiar with many of the arguments and much of the terminology surrounding the topic at hand. Those wanting a highly technical book on this subject will be frustrated (though the book does contain technical elements.) Likewise, those wanting fluff will be disappointed as well.

Barnett does an admirable job of getting down to the nuts and bolts of the problems and arguments surrounding the historical reliability of the Bible. His span is wide. He goes from the question of the existence of Jesus to a brief and insightful look at the dating of the New Testament to an overview of the process of textual transmission. He then explores the Gospels, Paul and Acts. He also finds time to stop along the way and consider miracles, the birth of Jesus, and, lastly, the resurrection.

I personally found Barnett’s handling of the Gospels and some of the chronological difficulties in them to be most helpful. In addition to this, his discussion of the birth of Jesus was very insightful. The final chapter on the resurrection does a commendable job of (a) reinforcing the seriousness of the question of whether or not the New Testament is reliable and (b)communicating Barnett’s personal thoughts about why all of this matters to him.

What we end up with here is a book that I would not hesitate to give to either a skeptic or to a believer wanting to get his feet wet in the area of apologetics. The book is convicting without being preachy and it’s arguments are sound. I would encourage anybody to read this book.

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