The Case for Jesus by Brant Pitre is a brief snapshot into an investigation on the proof of Jesus’s divinity and the validity of the four gospels. He addresses the following two main questions: are the gospels actually legitimate, and did Jesus actually claim to be God?
Are the Gospels Reliable?
According to Pitre, it’s widely believed by scholars today that the gospels were originally anonymous. They say that the four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were circulated and were recopied by many different people for over a century before the titles were eventually added. The purpose of the titles was to give the gospels more authority. One problem with this theory is that there is no evidence of the existence of any anonymous copies. From the oldest copies to the ESV Bible on our desks, the names of the authors remain consistent.
Another discrepancy with this theory is the fact that suddenly, scribes all around the world somehow simultaneously attributed the same book to the same disciple. Would there not be some disagreement about which disciples to include? While we’re on that topic, why would they choose to include Luke and Mark? They weren’t eyewitnesses, and certainly wouldn’t have been the best choices if you were looking for authority.
So what about forgery? Could the gospels be fakes? One of the reasons some scholars claim that they couldn’t have been written by one of the disciples, is because they were fishermen who would likely have been illiterate. However, Matthew was a tax collector, and almost certainly could read or write. Mark and Luke were both close companions with eyewitnesses and knew details of His life and the lives of His followers that a forger wouldn’t know.
Next, Pitre goes on to look for external evidence in the writings of the early church fathers. If there was a possibility that the gospels were a forgery, some of the apostles’ contemporaries should have had some questions about their validity. Surprisingly, they seem to have no doubt about who wrote the books.
Did Jesus Claim to be God?
One of the first questions Pitre asks in the beginning of the book is about Jesus’s divinity. He references C. S. Lewis’s argument from Mere Christianity – that since Jesus called Himself God, He is either a liar because He calls Himself Lord when He knows He isn’t; a lunatic because He thinks He is; or He is the Lord Himself. However, there is a fourth option. What if He never called Himself God at all?
Just because He didn’t explicitly call Himself God doesn’t mean He wasn’t claiming to be divine. He was very Jewish – He spoke in riddles and questions. Pitre gives us several examples of ways that Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples as the Lord of the universe without using words.
Pitre came from a Catholic background, but I personally didn’t feel like that detracted from the validity of his words. This isn’t a subject that I’ve studied much in the past, but the book piqued my interest enough that I will definitely be doing more. I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone with interest in this topic.
Rhonda Mast has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. That may be why she knows the proper fencing stance, spends countless hours on YouTube watching videos on tatting and cranberry harvesting techniques, completely covers one wall of her room with her bookshelves, understands 19th century boxing cant, reads the dictionary, knows the proper way to curtsy and tie a cravat, and has invested a small fortune in candle making supplies. It’s also why you should never ask her why algebra and ancient literature are practical classes for high schoolers. She routinely distributes vitamins, fashion advice, natural beauty products, and math tutoring to her seven siblings. She’s developed a love for adoption, foster care, and a whole host of little boys in Mexico, although she has a number of health issues that slow her down more than she likes. She is learning blind trust in God and complete surrender to His will.