Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Book Review: Expanded and Updated Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell


When I began investigating the evidence for Christianity, one name that believers repeatedly recommended was Josh McDowell.  I began looking into his works and discovered two titles- More than a Carpenter and Evidence that Demands a Verdict (EDAV).  At the time, I especially found EDAV to be a great resource for a novice like myself.  It enabled me to evaluate some of the manuscript evidence for the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Amazingly, the original EDAV was published in 1979!  The new edition is thoroughly revised and updated from previous editions in light of the plethora of recently uncovered historical documentation and the best of modern scholarship.  The chapters are expanded and address many of the most recent attacks from Christianity's harshest critics.

In addition, EDAV is now co-authored by Josh McDowell and his son, Sean McDowell, Ph.D.  This new work provides "fresh insights, greater perspective and a fresh voice to today's most pressing questions."

Strengths of the Book

Usually, when we receive a book to review, we post a book preview of the work for readers to familiarize themselves with a forthcoming text.  Shortly after posting our book preview for EDAV, a skeptic sent me a review of the original EDAV by some prominent atheists and simply stated, "The evidence has been weighed and found wanting."  This serves to highlight one of the strengths of this expanded and updated version.  Consider the chapter presenting evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.  Readers familiar with McDowell's original work will immediately notice that the arguments now offer fresh insights from top scholars in this area, such as N.T. Wright and Mike Licona.  So the skeptic simply cannot assume that, if they have read the original and "found it wanting," that the same can be said for the latest version.  The arguments offered in each section of this work are much richer and deeper than its predecessor.

I also greatly appreciated how the authors offered an "apologetic" for apologetics in the introduction of the text.  This is especially vital in today's church culture where some of the most ardent defenders of irrationality are Christians!  They also address 10 common misconceptions about the Christian faith.  This provides a nice foundation for the forthcoming content.

Finally, this reviewer was also delighted to find that EDAV deals with topics that many modern day apologetics works do not address.  Some examples include the historical Adam, the historicity of the patriarchs, the historicity of the Exodus and the historicity of the conquest of Canaan.  While defending "Mere Christianity" certainly has its place, this work takes you well beyond.

Arguments Dealt with in the Book

EDAV is compiled of thirty-two chapters divided into to the following 4 parts:

I. The Uniqueness of the Bible
II. Evidence for Jesus
III. Evidence for the Old Testament
IV. Evidence for Truth

Readers who work through EDAV will be equipped to defend, among other key arguments, the deity of Christ, the reliability of the Bible and the evidence for the historicity and resurrection of Jesus.

Who Would Benefit from this Book?

This reader cannot think of one person who would not benefit from reading this book.  The skeptic will be challenged with robust and well-documented arguments for the central pillars of the Christian faith and beyond.  Meanwhile, the Christian will be equipped to defend their faith against some of its most contemporary critics.


Josh McDowell, along with his son, Sean, hope that "...in providing the most up-to-date information, this fourth edition of Evidence that Demands a Verdict will equip Christians of the twenty-first century with confidence as they seek to understand and defend their faith" [p. xvii].  Mission accomplished.

It is also their desire that "many who have been confused or never exposed to the truth of Christianity will discover that Jesus Christ is who he claimed to be, that God loves them, and that he wants to welcome them into his eternal family" [p. xviii].  This reviewer firmly believes that the skeptic who reads this work with an opened mind will be challenged by those truths.

I rarely describe a book as a "necessary purchase," but the new updated and revised EDAV certainly qualifies.  The wide scope of evidence it presents along with the excellent scholarship therein, makes it an indispensable resource for the Christian case maker or the inquiring skeptic.

I highly recommend this work!

You can order your copy here.

Courage and Godspeed,

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