Published by Zondervan on September 21, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Apologetics
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Can the truth about Jesus be uncovered--even without a body or a crime scene? Join cold-case detective and bestselling author J. Warner Wallace as he investigates Jesus using an innovative and unique approach he employs to solve real missing person murder cases.
In Person of Interest, Wallace carefully sifts through the evidence from history alone, without relying on the New Testament. You'll understand like never before how Jesus, the most significant person in history, changed the world.
Join a cold-case detective as he uncovers the truth about Jesus using the same approach he employs to solve real murder casesMarvel at the way Jesus changed the world as you investigate why Jesus still matters todayLearn how to use an innovative and unique "fuse and fallout" investigative strategy that you can also use to examine other claims of historyExplore and learn how to respond to common objections to ChristianityDetective J. Warner Wallace listened to a pastor talk about Jesus and wondered why anyone would think Jesus was a person of interest.
Wallace was skeptical of the Bible, but he’d investigated several no-body homicide cases in which there was no crime scene, no physical evidence, and no victim's body. Could the historical life and actions of Jesus be investigated in the same way?
In Person of Interest, Wallace describes his own personal investigative journey from atheism to Christianity as he carefully considers the evidence. Creative, compelling, and fully illustrated, Person of Interest will strengthen the faith of believers while engaging those who are skeptical and distrusting of the New Testament.
Ever since Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, apologetic via non-theologians have become increasingly in vogue. Strobel used his journalistic experience to investigate the claims of Scripture, treating the life and resurrection of Jesus like any other piece of investigative journalism. J. Warner Wallace has taken up that tradition, looking at pretty much the same things through the lens of a cold-case detective. Cold Case Christianity released in 2013 and, much like Strobel’s work, launched a whole career and set of books.
The latest of his books is Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World That Rejects the Bible. Filled with illustrations, diagrams, and compelling prose, Wallace overlays the narrative of one of his cold cases onto this examination of the life of Jesus, showing how cold case techniques can help readers assess the historicity of Jesus. While much of what Wallace covers isn’t new, his perspective makes it a refreshing and interesting read even for those of us who know the biblical material.
The two central themes that Wallace develops is the fuse and the fallout. The fuse is the build-up to the explosion. Why did Jesus come when he did? What about the first century AD made it the “fullness of time,” as Scripture puts it? Person of Interest does what good detective work is going to do: it establishes a timeline. From the development of language, culture, society, and theology, Wallace makes a cogent case for why Israel in the first century was a prime place for the good news of Jesus to spread worldwide.
Second, he addresses the fallout—or how Jesus impacted culture outside of religion. He covers education, music, art, science, pretty much anything you can think of, Person of Interest shows how it was influenced by the life of Jesus and the spread of Christianity.
Person of Interest also does another thing that all good detectives do: It interviews people. While keeping the information on a layperson level, Wallace also manages to insert a fair amount of robust research. He also includes a fair amount of information that I haven’t seen in traditional apologetics before. In particular, he has a chapter on how the ministry of Jesus was a catalyst for an educational revolution, as Christian communities founded catechetical schools. This isn’t so much apologetics as it is contextual history to understand the influence Christianity has had on society.
I would say that it’s important to note that popularity and influence does not equate with historicity—or with theological truth. A lot of fictional figures have been quite influential and a lot of historical figures have made massive changes to society without being moral or theologically correct. The case for Jesus’s influence as indicative of his historicity is something to think about, but more in terms of how wide-ranging that influence as been and not as something that bolsters his historicity (which isn’t really something any serious secular scholars deny, anyway).
Maybe the most important chapter is where Person of Interest shows how Jesus has become a part of several other world religions. There’s something so pure and truthful about Jesus that every religion seems to want a piece of him. I think all of this is particularly useful to know and understand as a point of evangelism and as a way of understanding how Jesus is viewed outside of Christian tradition. Too often, Christian apologetics gets locked into the Christian/atheist duality and doesn’t address the questions and perspectives brought by other religions.
The last thing that I’ll say is that this is a weighty manuscript. It’s a big book. I’d advocate taking your time to read through it and allow yourself to process the information slowly. Information overload can be a reality! Person of Interest offers a panoramic perspective on apologetics that has been missing from the literature for some time. While I think some elements may be overplayed or simplified, overall Wallace offers an enthusiastic, creative work that helps readers understand the person and influence of Jesus.