John Dickson’s purpose in writing The Christ files : how historians know what they know about Jesus by John Dickson (Blue Bottle Books, 2005) is to explain how historians discover evidence about Jesus’ life and how it was recorded in what we know as the New Testament. From there Dickson is able to point out how reliable the New Testament is in the sight of mainstream academic historians, regardless of their faith or lack of it. Most Christians don’t realize the bulk of historical evidence supporting the authenticity of the books that make up the New Testament. Many academics who would not profess Christian faith nevertheless regard The New Testament as a reliable history of the time and believe the contents have been faithfully recorded from what was common knowledge. This means incidents have not been added later nor were they an exaggeration of well known events.
Dickson also points out whereas in some other religions they believe their holy books were written down verbatim as God spoke it, Christians believe the Bible is God inspired rather than God dictated. This makes an enormous different. It means it is worthwhile understanding something about the people who wrote the books of the New Testament, the context and the circumstances of why they wrote it because this has influenced the content. Most of the New Testament letters provided these details or they can be discovered from other sources.
For those wanting to do further study Dickson provides a wealth of footnotes and references. However I personally found the information Dickson provided enough to satisfy my interests.
A DVD set has also been created which contains much of the material in The Christ files. The first DVD is four half hour episodes which have been screened on TV. A second DVD contains the more lengthy interviews with the various authorities that John Dickson consulted.
A very worthwhile addition to the study of apologetics.