Why are murders so interesting to us? Some of the more popular podcasts, videos, and headlines are about high-profile homicides. We are often engrossed in the prime suspect who cops often refer to as “the person of interest.” Are the headlines obsessed with Brian Laundrie right now? Where is he? Did he do it? If yes, why? And will he get justice?
Unfortunately, in the long run, the person of interest is usually remembered much more than the victims. We remember names like Charles Manson, Jeffery Dahmer, and Ted Bundy, but we usually forget which ones they killed.
But what if there is a huge exception to this typical outcome? What if the best known and most influential name in human history was not a villain but actually a murder victim himself?
Cold Homicide Detective J. Warner Wallace Makes Just That In His Astonishing New Book Person of interest. Wallace shows the unprecedented impact that a murdered Jewish preacher in a dark corner of the ancient Roman Empire has had on the world over the past two thousand years.
Jesus of Nazareth is not only the central figure of the world’s greatest religion, but he is also the central figure of influence throughout Human history. In a book full of more 400 of his own illuminating drawings, Wallace shows that even if every Bible and every manuscript suddenly disappeared from the planet, you could piece together the “explosive” appearance of Jesus and his essential teachings from the “rocket” of ancient history and the “fallout” of the last two thousand years.
Consider for a moment the impact that Jesus had on Literature. Jesus has been written about more than any other character in history. To date, there are over 109 million books written about Jesus (George Washington is far behind at nearly 59 million books). Nobody, and I mean anybody, inspired authors and writers like Jesus of Nazareth, and this influence began early.
Wallace illustrates a robust list of Christian and non-Christian voices found on ancient manuscripts in the early centuries of the Common Era – more non-Christians than Christians – which describe Jesus and his disciples. From these early voices, the whole story of Jesus can be pieced together even though every New Testament manuscript had been destroyed.
Jesus dominates another form of literature: scenarios. Wallace brings together the films designed about Jesus of Nazareth in an illustration that demonstrates the unprecedented impact of Jesus on filmmakers (“The Jesus Film”, for example, remains the most translated and watched film of all time). But there is more. Great thinkers and theologians have written about Jesus over the centuries, establishing a strong Christian publishing industry that still thrives today. Even non-Christians are forced to allude to Jesus in one way or another. Figures of Christ, parallel to Jesus, populate not only classical literature, but even popular fiction.
It would take much more destruction than the New Testament to erase Jesus from the pages of the world. Much of the history of Literature.
But this is only one aspect of the “fallout” indebted to Jesus. Wallace also describes and illustrates the monumental impact Jesus had on education, science, art, music and other world religions. Unlike other books which simply explain the role Jesus played in human history, Person of interestuncovers hidden evidence that you might not have considered in the aspects of culture most revered by unbelievers. Jesus’ impact was seismic, and from his fingerprints in every area of human history, his story can be completely reconstructed.
How a man who never led an army, never held a position, never started a business, never wrote a book, never had children, never traveled more than 200 miles from his birthplace – a man who was murdered two thousand years ago – to become the most important person of interest and influence in all of human history?
Maybe because he wasn’t just a man. Maybe because his murderers couldn’t keep Him in the grave. Person of interest will leave you thinking and feeling that this is, by far, the most reasonable explanation.
Frank Turek is the president of CrossExamined.org, co-author of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, and the author of the new book Stealing from God: Why atheists need God to make their case.