The Case for the Real Jesus Reading Group Guide
Challenge One Questions:
Challenge Two Questions:
According to Wallace, why is it important, when comparing New Testament manuscripts, to distinguish between essentials and particulars when evaluating manuscripts’ reliability?
As you read about biblical variants and their impact on essential doctrines of the Bible, what surprised, bothered, or challenged you?
Challenge #3, Part One:
Do you agree that everyone—including theists, deists, agnostics, atheists—have biases through which they interpret information and develop theories? What are your biases, and what are you doing to keep them in check?
Questions for Challenge #3, Part Two:
As you read Licona’s responses to alternate theories of Jesus’ resurrection that authors, scholars, and others have developed or promoted, which points did you find most interesting? Why?
- If Jesus’ resurrection was not a very real event of history, what effect would that have on Christianity? On your view of Jesus?
Questions for Challenge #4:
What attracts people to books and scholars claiming that key tenets about Jesus, such as his virgin birth and resurrection, were plagiarized from earlier “mystery religions”? How have such claims affected your view of Christianity?
Which factors in your life—experience with Christians, unanswered questions, personal suffering, faith of a parent, etc.—have most shaped your perspectives concerning Jesus and biblical Christianity?
Like other scholars, Yamauchi emphasized the importance of dates in determining relationships between pagan religions and first-century Christianity. Why are such dates significant, and which ones stood out to you?
Questions for Challenge #5:
How familiar were you with Messianic prophecies before you read this interview with Brown? Would you say that your understanding of them, and your resulting picture of Jesus, has been influenced more by what other people have said or taught about these prophecies—or by what you have discovered for yourself?
- Which of Isaiah’s prophecies regarding Jesus did you find most convincing or most troubling?
Questions for Challenge #6:
During your spiritual journey, how have issues of truth, tolerance, and judgment influenced your views of Jesus, the Bible, and the “church”?
Why have many people embraced a “create-your-own-spirituality” approach to life? If truth becomes only what people think it is or “what works” rather than being rooted in something larger than themselves—such as God’s revelation in the Bible—what are the consequences in such areas as ethics and morality, in determining what is “right” and what is “wrong,” in judging truth from untruth, in discovering the “real” Jesus?
In your experience, when syncretists enthusiastically fashion their own spiritualities and communicate them, how tolerant are they of people whose spiritual faith is built on diametrically opposed presuppositions to theirs (personal vs. impersonal God, Jesus being the only way to God vs. all paths lead to God, etc.)? At what point can seeming tolerance breed an arrogant form of intolerance?
Respond to Copan’s statement: “Truth is true even if no one knows it, admits it, agrees with it, follows it, or even fully grasps it.”
Which specific issues or questions in this interview most challenged you? Why? As you compared your view of spiritual truth to Copan’s statements, what did you discover? How do you choose the truths by which you desire to live, and what demands do they put on you?
To what extent will you continue to wrestle with ideas from this book? How have your beliefs about Jesus Christ—who he is, what he said, the impact he continues to have on culture, the salvation the Bible says he offers—changed? In what ways are you drawn toward, or away from, the Jesus of the Bible? Why? Do you know enough to encounter and experience the real Jesus?