The chief value of this book is that it methodically, meticulously and exhaustively evaluates the Gospels in relation to what might be called the rules of evidence in the first century cultural milieu of Jesus and his contemporaries. Bauckham convincingly demonstrates from a wide selection of historical evidence and well-reasoned argument that the Gospels were composed in the first century using eyewitness testimony. The reader need not be completely familiar with the arguments of the scholarly community, as Bauckham gives these briefly but accurately. I gave the book four and one-half stars versus five because, 1) the arguments and proofs are completely secular. God is not invited to the discussion until the last page (although Bauckham's faith is evident), and I don't remember meeting the Holy Spirit anywhere in the book. 2) The argument that the Author of John's Gospel was a Jerusalem disciple of Jesus but not the son of Zebedee is compelling but not entirely convincing. These issues do not in any way detract from the value of the work. Any person wanting to understand and defend the view that the Jesus of the Gospels IS the historical Jesus should read this work. The book is a living breath of faith that attempts to resuscitate the deadness of modern academic biblical studies. The reader who wonders if the Gospels present the real Jesus will find they do. The reader who believes in the Gospels as God's testimony will find his or her faith affirmed, and gain new insights for the defense of the faith.