Person of Interest: A book review

As we celebrate Christmas, one thing the world is largely ignorant of is the huge impact Jesus has made in history. A ginormous shift in world events happened when this ‘person of interest’ came onto the historical scene. This is mostly lost in a holiday season that has become secularized. Ironically, we try to be inclusive by saying “Happy Holidays” without even remembering this word means “holy day,” for goodness’ sakes. The secular culture is too focused on personal fulfillment and meaning to comprehend the layers of knowledge and privilege we have because of this one particular person.

And that is what J. Warner Wallace unpacks in his latest published book, Person of Interest. 

I was blessed to have been one of Warner’s students at Biola when his first book, Cold Case Christianity, came out. Since then, I have read many of his works, but his latest book knocks it out of the park!  What really struck me reading this book is the point Wallace made on how God split time with the person of Jesus Christ. Wait… read this again…God split time with Christ – literally.

Consider how our modern calendars work — up until recently, we recorded dates by either “BC”, meaning before Christ, or “AD”, meaning annō Dominī, which translates to “in the year of the Lord.” Today, we use BCE (before common era), and CE (common era or current era). Regardless, the appearance of Jesus Christ in history split time as we know it.

How did it occur that one Jewish carpenter, who never achieved what we would define as worldly success, (i.e. he never held a high ranking office, never owned a house, did not have riches, etc.) achieved the impossible? To have split time, the way all of us count it, is something no one has ever done! There is only one way to answer that, and this is what Wallace explores.

Who is this person at the center of how we mark time? Because Wallace is a former cold-case detective, his skills to investigate the details that help answer this challenging question are displayed throughout the book. 

He starts by examining what other ancient texts say about Jesus. Skeptics like to accuse anyone of using the Bible as a source of ancient historical information as being biased. Even though Wallace does not use the New Testament in his research, he does include the Old Testament as one source. This is is understandable given the Old Testament is a Jewish historical account, and after all, Jesus was a Jew. However, he also references ancient Roman books and numerous other sources. 

Ancient records are not the only source of information Wallace considers. He also includes artwork, the influence Christ has had on literature, music and even architecture. His book is an amazing reference on just how impactful Jesus has been on nearly every aspect of our lives, including education and government. There are also lists referring to how Jesus’ followers contributed to the sciences, even though critics often claim Christians are anti-science. Wallace matter of factly points out the error in that thinking.

What I really enjoy about this book, in addition to the references of the monumental impact Jesus has had on our lives, is Wallace’s own illustrations. I did not know that Wallace had studied art, and prior to his life as a detective, wanted to be an illustrator. So it is delightful to see that part of his work displayed throughout the book. His artwork visually demonstrates the impact Christ has had in the world.

Artwork by J. Warner Wallace

One of Wallace’s final chapters compares Christ to other world religions. Many other religions honor Jesus as a great moral teacher, prophet or guru. He shows the differences, and argues for Christianity as the one true religion based on this “person of interest.”

The only thing I had a hard time with in the book was Wallace’s use of a case he was investigating strewn throughout the book, as a comparison to how he investigates homicides that seem nearly impossible to solve without a body. I get his point by comparing the techniques, but I had a hard time following the two stories. (Maybe it’s because I listened to some of his book on audio while driving, which can be distracting.)

Overall, this book has much to offer in references to how Jesus literally changed the world. I think I will find myself returning to it regularly, to find those sources in one place, in the Person of Interest. I highly recommend this book, as it is a great education on the impact the most famous person in history has had in our lives.


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