A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobel’s The Case For Christ


My critique of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ began life as a book review designed for The Jesus Puzzle web site. When it grew beyond the bounds of a normal review and was well received by many readers, a version in book form was not long in coming, published under my own imprint, Age of Reason Publications. In the course of the book production, the original website version underwent a fair amount of revision and improvement, with the addition of a Final Summation, much expanded Notes, and a comprehensive Index.


Because of that improvement in quantity and quality, and in order, hopefully, to benefit the resources of a fledgling Age of Reason organization, I have removed the earlier version from the site and would encourage interested readers to acquire the book, either directly from myself through this website or from In place of the original website review, I am posting multiple excerpts here from the book version (see below), which not only make interesting reading in themselves, but will convey the quality and merits of the overall content of the book.

Age of Reason Publications’ stated goal, of promoting the application of rational thought to society’s laws, ethics and beliefs, is well served by Challenging the Verdict. The book is designed to demonstrate the unreliability of the Gospels as historical documents, and the insecurity of basing Christianity’s essential doctrines and its view of the beginnings of the faith on a very narrow and orthodox reading of one small portion of the documentary record. Regardless of the consequences to long-established traditions and comforts, our society’s picture of the past and of the nature of reality, foundations on which it bases so much of its beliefs and conduct, must be governed by principles of rationality and scientific investigation. Challenging the Verdict is offered as a much-needed step in that direction.

The book is styled as a courtroom cross-examination before judge and jury of each of Lee Strobel's scholarly witnesses. I have taken direct quotations from those witnesses and set up my own dialogue with their words, offering objections and counter-interpretation of the evidence. Occasionally I have shortened those direct-word passages, or altered the order in which they appear in Strobel's book, but I have scrupulously taken care not to distort or misrepresent the opinions being put forward by his witnesses, much less to put words into their mouths. I allot to the defense only those words and statements they have made in The Case for Christ.  

Skip to Excerpts from the book (below)

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From reviews of Challenging the Verdict on

"Another resounding triumph of reason over faith is presented in Earl Doherty’s excellent book, ‘Challenging the Verdict’. . . Complaints of other reviewers notwithstanding, the format (‘cross-examining’ Strobel’s ‘witnesses’ in a courtroom setting) is perfectly reasonable—and makes for fun reading!

"Want to get rid of superstition in your life? Want to free yourself from 2000 year old fantasies about a man walking out of his tomb, about being God and the only avenue to salvation, while everyone who doesn’t believe in him gets to go to some eternal punishment you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy? These are only some of the ideas defended by Strobel and his scholars which Doherty puts in his sights and demolishes, as he dismantles the reliability of the Gospels and their dogmas."

"I was also struck by the extra-biblical comments Doherty sprinkles throughout the book, espousing rationalist views. His comments on the whole blood sacrifice basis of Christian salvation, the section on hell (which ought to discredit any belief in that horrific doctrine) and his little homily at the end of the Final Summation are some of the most insightful things I’ve read in support of rationality, something Strobel’s book is very short on.

For the full texts of all Amazon reviews, both positive and negative (including some comments of my own in reply): Click here

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Excerpts from Challenging the Verdict

In this selection each of the chapters is represented, beginning with the "Opening Remarks" that introduce Part One. They are divided into three files, corresponding to the three Parts of the book. The reader may use the following Index to these excerpts, with links to each individual selection, or simply proceed to the first, and then follow the link at the end of each Part.

Part One - Is the Gospel Record Reliable?
   Excerpt from Introduction to Part One: Opening Remarks
   Excerpt from Chapter One: The Gospels and Their Authors
                        A Cross-Examination of Dr. Craig Blomberg and "The Eyewitness Evidence"
   Excerpt from Chapter Two: Under the Spotlight
                        A Cross-Examination of Dr. Craig Blomberg and "Testing the Eyewitness Evidence"
   Excerpt from Chapter Three: Manuscripts and the Canon
                        A Cross-Examination of Dr. Bruce Metzger and "The Documentary Evidence"
   Excerpt from Chapter Four: Jesus Outside the Gospels
                        A Cross-Examination of Dr. Edwin Yamauchi and "The Corroborating Evidence"
   Excerpt from Chapter Five: Evaluating the Gospel Historians
                        A Cross-Examination of Dr. John McRay and "The Scientific Evidence"
   Excerpt from Chapter Six: Placing Jesus in Context
                        A Cross-Examination of Dr. Gregory Boyd and "The Rebuttal Evidence"

Part Two - What Was the Nature of Jesus?
   Excerpt from Chapter Seven: Jesus’ View of Himself
                        A Cross-Examination of Dr. Ben Witherington III and "The Identity Evidence"
   Excerpt from Chapter Eight: Jesus’ State of Mind
                        A Cross-Examination of Dr. Gary R. Collins and "The Psychological Evidence"
   Excerpt from Chapter Nine: Jesus as God the Son
                        A Cross-Examination of Dr. Donald A. Carson and "The Profile Evidence"
   Excerpt from Chapter Ten: Jesus as Fulfillment of Prophecy
                        A Cross-Examination of Mr. Louis Lapides and "The Fingerprint Evidence"

Part Three - Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?
   Excerpt from Chapter Eleven: Suffering and Death on the Cross
                        A Cross-Examination of Dr. Alexander Metherell and "The Medical Evidence"
   Excerpt from Chapter Twelve: Burial and an Empty Tomb
                        A Cross-Examination of Dr. William Lane Craig and "The Evidence of the Missing Body"
   Excerpt from Chapter Thirteen: Appearing in the Flesh
                        A Cross-Examination of Dr. Gary Habermas and "The Evidence of Appearances"
   Excerpt from Chapter Fourteen: Looking at the Effects
                        A Cross-Examination of Dr. J. P. Moreland and "The Circumstantial Evidence"
   Concluding with a special excerpt from the end of Chapter Eleven

Challenging the Verdict: Available through this website and from

Age of Reason Home Page
The Jesus Puzzle Home Page