Polemics and diatribes-especially concerning the spiritual and secular-are abundant these days, with fair-minded conversations few and far between. This book is a welcome exception. In brief, it's a respectful dialog between an evangelical Christian and a secularist about the origins of Christianity. Bird (lecturer in New Testament, Highland Theological Coll., Scotland) is the Christian apologist here; his sparring partner is "secularist" Crossley (lecturer in New Testament, Univ. of Sheffield), who approaches Christianity more from a sociohistorical perspective and thinks like skeptical philosopher David Hume. Translation: miracles don't occur. Bird and Crossley interact on a wide array of crucial subjects, covering the divinity of Jesus, the resurrection of Christ, the Apostle Paul, the authenticity of the Gospels, and the rise as well as spread of Christianity. Interestingly, the idea for this book stemmed from the authors commenting on each other's respective blogs online. Especially helpful are the responses from two other Jesus scholars representing both sides of the debate. In the end, readers can make up their own minds after considering the arguments. Exemplifying scholarly integrity and balance, this book is recommended for both public and academic libraries; religiously affiliated colleges, universities, and seminaries will definitely want to add this to their religious studies and apologetics collections.
C. Brian Smith