Table of Contents
Explanation of General Format
He Changed My Life
PART ONE: THE CASE FOR THE BIBLE
1. The Uniqueness of the Bible
An intelligent person seeking truth would certainly read and consider a book that has the historical qualifications of the Bible. Unique qualifications that set the Scriptures apart from every other book ever written.
2. How We Got the Bible
Materials used. Bible divisions. Why just thirty-nine Old Testament books and twenty-seven New Testament books? What about the Apocrypha? Why not other books?
3. Is the New Testament Historically Reliable?
The tests applied to all ancient literature to determine reliability. How does the New Testament compare? Archaeological finds confirming the New Testament.
4. Is the Old Testament Historically Reliable?
Bibliographical test. Internal evidence test. Archaeological evidence demonstrating the trustworthiness of the Old Testament.
PART TWO: THE CASE FOR JESUS
5. Jesus, A Man of History
Documented sources of extrabiblical historical references to Jesus of Nazareth.
6. If Jesus Wasn’t God, He Deserves an Oscar
The character of Christ and His claims to deity, with emphasis on secular and Jewish sources.
7. Significance of Deity: The Trilemma–Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?
If the New Testament records about Jesus are historically accurate, there remain only three logical choices concerning His identity.
8. Support of Deity: Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus Christ
Illustrations of the probabilities that all prophecies could be fulfilled in one man, in response to the critic who says, “It is all just a coincidence.” Emphasis on Jewish sources to answer the accusation, “That’s the way you Christians look at them, but what about the Jews?”
9. Support of Deity: The Resurrection–Hoax or History?
This heavily documented section of evidence for Christ’s resurrection refutes theories set forth to disclaim this miracle.
10. Support of Deity: The Great Proposition
The “if…then” argument applied to Christ: “If God became man, then what would He be like?” Quotations and observations of great Christians and non-Christians about the person, character, life, and death of Jesus of Nazareth, and His impact on the world for two thousand years.
PART THREE: THE CASE FOR AND AGAINST CHRISTIANITY
Section I. Introduction
This section deals with inspiration of the Bible, anti-supernaturalism, and archaeology. All three topics relate to the documentary hypothesis and form criticism. There they are treated at the beginning rather than under each of the following two sections.
11. Is the Bible from God?
Part 1 presents the case that the Bible is historically accurate. Here the case is made that the Bible is trustworthy in that it is inspired by a perfect God.
12. The Presupposition of Anti-supernaturalism
A presentation of the presuppositions of both documentarians and form critics. Often the alleged objective historical conclusions are molded by a subjective worldview.
Section II. Documentary Hypothesis
The discipline of literary criticism applied to the Pentateuch is examined along with evidence for Mosaic authorship.
14. Introduction to the Documentary Hypothesis
What is the documentary hypothesis? What are the JEDP documents?
15. Introduction to Biblical Criticism
Biblical criticism defined and the different critical schools explained.
16. Introduction to the Pentateuch
The purpose and importance of the first five biblical books.
17. Development of the Documentary Hypothesis
A description of the various documentary theories and their modern revisions.
18. Ground Rules
The ancient oriental environment provides various principles to apply to the Old Testament.
19. Documentary Presuppositions
An investigation of the four basic documentary assumptions: (1) The priority of source analysis over archaeology; (2) a natural view of Israel’s religion and history; (3) the theory that there was no writing in Israel at Moses’ time; and (4) the legendary view of the patriarchal narratives.
20. Consequences of Radical High Criticism
A discussion of the results of Israel’s history being viewed as unhistorical, fraudulent, and naturalistic.
21. Evidence for Mosaic Authorship
The internal and external testimony for Moses’ authorship of the Pentateuch.
22. The Phenomenon of Divine Names
The various uses of the divine names (Elohim, Yahweh, and others) are put in perspective.
23. The Repetition of Accounts and Alleged Contradictions
Certain stories in the Pentateuch are said to be repeated, and others to have contradictory details.
The writing in the third person and the record of Moses’ death are factors said to be incongruous with Mosaic authorship.
25. Internal Diversity
A discussion of the assumed difference of subject matter, style and diction.
26. Conclusion to the Documentary Hypothesis
Section III. Biblical Criticism and the New Testament
Basic tenets of form criticism examined. Practical answers to basic assumptions and conclusions. The modern quest for the historical Jesus.
27. Introduction to New Testament Form Criticism
Form criticism is defined and its purpose and proponents discussed.
28. Historical Skepticism
The reliability of the record of the historical Jesus is examined.
29. Jesus Under Fire
An examination of the historical quests for Jesus and their culmination in the Jesus Seminar.
30. Conclusion to Form Criticism
A look at the contribution and limitations of the form critical approach.
31. Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism
by C. S. Lewis
PART FOUR: TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES
Personal Note from the Author
32. The Nature of Truth
33. The Knowability of Truth
34. Answering Postmodernism
35. Answering Skepticism
36. Answering Agnosticism
37. Answering Mysticism
38. Certainty vs. Certitude
39. Defending Miracles
40. Is History Knowable?
Biographical Sketches of Selected Authors
The Four Spiritual Laws
This version of “Evidences” was published in 1999 and consisted of McDowell’s previous Evidences I & II with updates for a changing culture. Since this version there has been another version, updated by McDowell and his son Sean as our culture continues to change and the questions asked are different from even 20 years ago.
I read this mainly for the first part about whether we can trust the Bible or not. I feel that Part 2 and Part 3 flow from that answer and so am not nearly as concerned about that. The final and fourth part is for people who sit up at night worrying about whether there is a God and the consequences of deciding either way. Somebody needs to address those, but I’m not concerned with them.
McDowell himself recommends not reading this straight through but simply choosing an area that interests you or that you have questions about and diving in. This is setup in the way a scholarly paper would be, with main points and then sub-points drillling down so a chapter might look like 1, A, A1,A2,B,B1, 2,A, A1, A1a etc. Because of this, there is a lot of repetition as many of the same answers apply to different questions and challenges.
I started reading this in October of last year and used this for my work read. I’d read 5 or 10 minutes a day at work and have finally wrapped this up. The final part was hard for me to get through because it wasn’t what I was looking into, but as I knew that going in, it wasn’t a frustrating experience.
Thinking about this, I’d recommend it to Christians who feel a need to bolster their knowledge about how what they believe is based on more than Airy Fairy Nonsense. For non-Christians, I’d say it would help someone who is genuinely seeking an answer to “What is Truth?”. McDowell does address the fact that there are a lot of people who are asking questions but who either don’t want a genuine answer or who simply want what they already think confirmed. You can’t MAKE someone believe something, no matter how much evidence is presented to them.
Overall, this was a very strengthening read for me, a shot in the old arm, as it were. I am sure I will be revisiting various parts of this book as the years pass.