Person of Interest book review
This book about why Jesus matters is so good I've already pre-ordered a dozen copies.
Person of Interest, available beginning September 21, relies on historical documentation, largely outside the Bible, to showcase why Jesus is the pivotal person around which civilization turns.
Having read a pre-released copy, I've decided it will be my go-to book to hand to any skeptic who wants to investigate whether Jesus is who he says he is.
While Person Of Interest, written by retired cold-case homicide detective turned pastor and apologetics author J. Warner Wallace, is 257 pages without the 55-page case notes section at the end, it is a fairly fast read. Also an artist, Wallace drew hundreds of illustrations. You could get the gist by only looking at the pictures. The book’s chapters are all individual arguments that can stand alone, but together provide strong evidence to the open minded that Jesus is worth paying attention to.
The genre of this book falls into what I would call historical apologetics, arguments built on trying to persuade the reader the Bible is true, based on historical facts outside the Bible. Other excellent books that fall into this category include How Christianity Changed The World, The Book that Made Your World and What if Jesus Had Never Been Born. Anyone who wants to share the good news of Jesus should read Wallace’s book, as it serves as a great starting point for explaining why the Bible might be true.
The book is split into two sections, pre and post Jesus
Before Jesus’ arrival several historical factors came into play that allowed the message of Christianity to spread quickly.
At the time Jesus entered the Roman Empire there was for the first time:
growing literacy and a common Greek language
papyrus to write on instead of bulky clay tablets
nearly 250,000 miles of roads
the best postal system of its time
peace in the Roman Empire from 27 BC to 180 AD
worship of different deities who each bore some, but not all, the attributes of Jesus
After Jesus, many of the institutions society holds dear began:
written alphabets for people who until Christians came did not have one, for example the Cyrillic alphabet for the Slavic people of Eastern Europe was created by Saint Cyril; the justification for the written alphabet came from the need for a Bible in that group’s own language
public education for children and those with disabilities
the original three universities of Oxford, Bologna and Paris — all founded by Christians — gave birth to the universities of the scientific revolution and more broadly served as the models for hundreds of universities of higher learning
notable universities in the United States such as Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University and many more, were all founded by Christians to teach Christian principles
just about every branch of science was founded or significantly influenced positively by Christians
far more books, movies, songs and paintings depict Jesus or his message than any other person in history
Jesus of Nazareth made such an impact that even if you just read what early Christians and non-Christians said about him you could learn the core tenants of the Bible, Wallace illustrated.
Jesus so impacted the world that many of the world’s religions and myths have either retro-fitted Jesus into their beliefs or incorporated attributes of Jesus as the religion began. Jesus however, never incorporated religious beliefs from any other religion.
Wallace’s central argument about the dramatic impact of Jesus is so audacious and backed up with mounds of evidence that I fear many skeptics will simply ignore it as being too good to be true, that a biased author simply twisted history into an argument that supported his view.
Thankfully, he doesn't simply provide you with a book you can quickly breeze through and either believe or reject. In addition to the 55-page case notes appendix, he also provided a link in the book to another 279-page downloadable PDF file that includes much of the research he relied on to make the claims in the book. You not only can fact-check his work, but use it as a jumping off point for your own investigation.
The book is filled with crisp sound bites to classic skeptic questions
Just like in his other books, Wallace sprinkles in lots of short responses to objections skeptics raise to Christianity, such as that no good reasons exist to believe in miracles, that Christianity is anti-science and its proponents advocated violence to advance the Gospel.
He also includes a fascinating section walking you through the real history of scientist and Christian Galileo Galilei. It was his scientific position arguing the earth rotated around the sun that was opposed by those advocating an older scientific position at the time, despite the narrative of the story being that Galileo was fighting on behalf of science against religion.
If you order the book by October 1, 2021, publisher Zondervan is providing some good bonus ebooks related to the book. If you really can’t afford the book, hit reply on this email with your address and I’ll send you a free copy.
Not a big reader?
I'm curating videos and audio interviews and presentations Wallace has done about the book below. You can get the gist of the book just by watching some of these.
You can listen to the first chapter for free here:
Public presentations using material from the book: