I really don't know how to feel about this book.
On the one hand, I really liked how everything is cited and sourced. It's definitely well researched (to an extent). But I found more problems than I found uses.
The biggest problem is that this book is basically one big Appeal to Authority fallacy. Some parts of chapters are literally just sentence after sentence of "person X in position Y said that this is really legit". And that's fine when it's in specific cases - like I said citation is good, but a lot of times it's just "this Bishop said that there is no more historically reliable text than the Bible." Ok, super convincing, I guess?
Like I said, it's great that it's sourced, but it's hard to take every reference at face value when every reference is noted as being a Christian. Christian historians say that the Bible is reliable, but what do historians as a whole say? The approach is always from an area of absolute ignorance and only covers dissent if it has an answer. This might be not so much with the book perhaps as it is with the content matter, but I had a hard time taking statements at face value, period. You can call that bias on my part, which is probably true to an extent, but MacDowell just presents things as fact that I find suspicious of being unquestionably true.
Which leads me to the conclusion: this book seems as though it was written by a Christian for Christians, mostly. It includes small quotes of particularly "powerful" sentences repeated randomly in the margins, it contains the aforementioned list of "so and so says", and it is just written in a way that feels as though it is targeted at someone who is reading it to boost what they already believe. Which is fine, there's not shortage of those types of Christian books, I just thought this book was more of a "these are the facts" deal.
However, having said all that, I have to admit my own bias; this book was "suggested" to me by family member from whom I may be projecting how it reads. And I certainly have to admit that I came into it with a certain predisposition: not attempting to be close-minded, but certainly already with a belief on the matter. But it's not like I'm a history or theology buff and as a novice in these areas entering in, I felt at a loss as to what is genuinely accepted in each field of study and what is MacDonald's "summarized" conclusion.
In the end I just have to say that I have nothing to say on this book. I feel that I don't have adequate space or maturity or whatever to say whether or not it's complete BS or if it's true and my repulsion is just not wanting to be wrong. I can say that I didn't find it particularly compelling, but then I suppose I'd like something that covers this subject matter on a far more detailed level. It felt like an over-summarized version of a massively complex issue which resulted in the inability to tell when and if corners were cut in the logical steps taken.
I got nothing.