By JR on Sunday, May 27, 2012
A book has to be pretty good for me to read it, let alone review it but this book makes the grade. Perhaps a little surprisingly, it is not an evangelizing book. It is instead a work of solid scholarship. It wears down criticisms of the Bible, fact by fact, point by point.
Hutchinson uses his vast knowledge of Bible and church history to show how shallow are the points made by atheist critics such as Dawkins and Hitchens. He patiently goes through their criticisms and applies to them the full weight of Bible scholarship through the ages. When critics seem to think they are clever for having thought of some original criticism, Hutchinson sometimes quotes by way of reply something written a thousand years ago. He knows what the points of contention are and knows what the reply to each is.
I found his chapter on slavery particularly interesting. Leftists tend to say that the Bible encourages slavery -- quite ignoring that the people who ultimately destroyed slavery in the West were devout Christians such as Wilberforce. The Bible was of course written when slavery was a univrersal feature of human society but Hutchinson shows that what was called slavery varied a great deal from time to time and place to place and that the Bible has substantial prohibitions about its worst abuses in the OLd Testament and completely forbad it in the New Testament. The thing that most approximated slavery in our modern sense among the Hebrews was in fact punishment for crime. In the absence of prisons, punishment was "outsourced" to individuals.
The book does of course bring us up to date with archaelogical evidence for the accuracy of the Bible accounts and it is rather amusing that many things dismissed by scholars as obviously untrue every now and again turn up as archaelogically verified.
For Christians who enter into disputes with unbelievers, this book offers a host of good replies to almost all likely challenges. A very valuable aid in a skeptical world -- JR