Top Fifteen Must Have Books on Apologetics

In my opinion, these are some of the best apologetics works that Christian and seekers need to read.

If you are having trouble with your belief, “apologetics” is the defense of the Christian faith. Each of these books defends the Christian faith in different ways, from different perspectives, from different people, dealing with a variety of issues.

Apologetics alone will never convince anyone of the truth of Christianity because people’s beliefs are not determined by reason and human wisdom, but as reason and human wisdom are used by the Holy Spirit to change a life. These works qualify as those that follow the path of 2 Pet. 3:15 “Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in you.” God uses apologetics to changed the the hardened heart.

These are numbered one to fifteen in importance. Drum roll please . . .

15. Pensees, Blaise Pascal (can be read through Peter Kreeft, Christianity of Modern Pagans)

Pascal’s book is as timeless and as relevant as many ancient proverbs. In fact, it serves more like a proverbial apologetic work with short pithy statements of life and truth designed to get one to think. Not an apologetic work in the classic sense,  but one for those who are looking for a different approach through the path of wisdom before reason. Pascal was Catholic, but, as one Catholic has put it, too Protestant to be Catholic.

14. Letters from a Skeptic, Gregory Boyd

An incredibly engaging work that is a published account of Greg’s letters back and forth with his father who was an unbeliever at the time. While I disagree with Boyd’s contention that God does not know the future in his defense of evil, it is a great book and will make you think and believe more deeply.

13. How Do You Know You’re Not Wrong, Paul Copan

Paul Copan deals with common objections to Christianity that most Christians find hard to answer. From “Animals have rights just like humans do” to “You can’t prove that scientifically” Paul helps the Christian as well as the skeptic get answers that represent a Christian worldview.

12. Reasonable Faith, William Craig

A master at dealing with the existence of God, Craig provides a good, readable apologetic at an intermediate level.

11. Scaling the Secular City, J. P. Moreland

This is a general apologetic work that comes from a philosophical perspective. J.P. Moreland is one of the most prolific and able defenders of the faith and this work is his most comprehensive achievement in the area of apologetics.

10. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Norman Geisler

This represents a lifetime tour de force of Norman Geisler. Just about every topic in Apologetics is covered in this massive work, from “Presuppositionalism” to “Resurrection Claims in Non-Christian Religions.” This is a significant reference work no matter what tradition you are from. 

9. Case for Christ, Lee Strobel

This is a great book for the Christian or the seeker. It is probably the most popular apologetic work over the last decade, taking the title away from Evidence that Demands a Verdict.

8. Reason for God, Tim Keller

According to many, this apologetic work by Keller is the apologetic for the postmodern generation. Whether this is true or not, it presents a solid, popular-level work that can be given to non-believers.

7. Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell

Although not as popular as it once was, for the last quarter of a century this work has served as the primary “go-to” apologetic for Evangelical Christianity. It is still a must have.

6. The Analytic Theist, Alvin Plantinga

This will be a much more advanced work for those who are dealing with deep philosophical thinking. Plantinga has been hailed as one of the world’s greatest living philosophers. This is a basic reader to get you familiar with his works. 

5. The God Who is There, Francis Schaeffer

Schaeffer’s works could all be put on this list, but this particular work is representative of a timeless defense from a timeless scholar.

4. Faith Has its Reasons, Rob Bowman and Kenneth Boa

The best book for one who’s desire it is to understand not only what apologetics is, but how it is to be done. The authors give a great overview of all the different Christian apologetic methods asking the question “How are we to defend the faith?” They then discuss and defend Presuppositionalism, Fideism, Evidentialism, and Classical approaches to the defense of the faith. For the young, aspiring apologist, this is the first book that should be read. 

3. The Resurrection of the Son of God, N. T. Wright

Simply put, this is the most comprehensive work on the resurrection of Christ ever produced. Whatever you think of N. T. Wright, there is no debate that this is an immensely valuable contribution to the Christian witness.

2. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Habermas and Licona 

Simply a must have for everyone. The resurrection of Christ is the central issue of Christianity. If Christ rose from the grave, Christianity is true; if he did not, it is false. Everyone needs to have a good defense of the resurrection and this work represents the best of the popular options. Get it!

1. Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis

How can I do justice to what might be the most significant and influential apologetic work in all of Christianity? All I can say is that if you have not read Mere Christianity, shame on you.

Did I miss any? Please make your list (I don’t care how many).

63 Responses to “Top Fifteen Must Have Books on Apologetics”

  1. ‘Mere Christianity’? Really? No. 1?

    I would be uncomfortable recommending anything by Kreeft.

    Interesting list.

  2. What!?!?

    Nothing by Van Til, Gordon Clark, or Greg Bahnsen?

    What are you like anti-presuppositional apologetics or something? :)

  3. Wow Keller scored Higher than Craig’s Reasonable Faith, though it was a much more difficult read, it trumps Reason for God on my shelf. Thanks for this though will have to check some of these out

  4. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler

    Can Man Live Without God by Ravi Zacharias

    The Bible by God

  5. Wow you have Greg Boyd (really??), but no Greg Bahnsen?? I would think “Pushing the Antithesis” or “VanTil’s Apologetic” would be essential for anyone dealing with apologetics today. In fact you only have one and a half presuppositionalists on this list i.e. Keller and Schaeffer. That said, I have all the books on this list and would recommend most.

  6. I guess you could throw Plantinga in the presuppositionalist camp (broadly speaking).

  7. Re: 1., 7., and 9. (Lewis, McDowell and Strobel), the folks at have some pretty trenchant critiques of these works or of aspects of them (google on the site to find the reviews/critiques/essays) that deserve reading by the Christian who would use them for apologetics and wishes to be forewarned and hence forearmed before taking these into the battle with skeptics.

  8. I agree with EricW that one should be prepared to answer the arguments on, and that site does a good job of pointing out the weaker pro-god arguments. Still, I haven’t found anything on that site that is unanswerable (yes, trenchant does not equal unanswerable). Many of their critiques are quite weak, and often very repetitive.

  9. Please add your lists. I am interested. Also, there is a poll in the upper right. You can choose as many as you like. I think it will be helpful.

  10. David F. : What other presuppositionalist books are out there? Any suggestions?

  11. Aquinas’ Summa Theologica and Calvin’s Institutes should be included!

  12. I liked “Tactics” by Koukl, but it probably should be supplemented by a decent basic textbook on logic, and perhaps a decent introductory text in philosophy.

    I find a lot of atheist debaters like to use logical terms of art and name-dropping to silence opposition. So having a passing understanding of “moral relativism”, “Aristotle’s five causes”, “Kant’s Categorical Imperative”, “Objectivism”, etc. can allow you to avoid getting caught flat footed when someone throws those at you and then bluffs when you ask them to explain it to you.

  13. Let’s see… others that might have been missed:

    Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Tacilli and Kreeft is outstanding. It makes many memorable points that are simple, but not without substance.

    To Everyone An Answer edited by Beckwith, Moreland, and Craig is very good.

    No Doubt About It by Corduan is perhaps the best intro to the relevant subjects of philosophy surrounding apologetics.

    Apologetics to the Glory of God is probably the most helpful intro to the Van Til tradition.

    Unapologetic Apologetics by Dembski and Richards is also good for more academic settings.

    Don’t forget anything by EJ Carnell!

  14. Steve in Toronto October 3, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    I am looking forward to exploring you list (a lot of the books are unfamiliar to me) but I have real reservations about one of the books. Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict (known in some circles as “evidence that demands a refund”). Josh’s biggest problem is his young earth creationism but he also has a much too unsophisticated view of biblical authority. The book might help you to argue with your friends in the high school lunch room but you will be shredded in your first year of university by science major or a serious but sceptical Bible or religion major. Worst of all the entire entire book is relentlessly “modern” in its apologetic method and it unlikely to speak to our “post modern” generation. The more I read modern apologetics the more I appreciate C.S. Lewis. He is still the best we have to offer.

    God Bless
    Steve in Toronto

  15. Daniel B. Wallace October 4, 2009 at 2:38 am

    Michael, whenever you post “the” list of anything, people come out of the woodwork to pick at the list. Why didn’t you include this book or that book? Why DID you include this one? Why is the order what it is? Should this book really be #1, or #15, or whatever? You’re a brave man for posting such a list and bracing yourself for the storm that would follow.

    I wonder if perhaps the readers of your blog posts might want to contribute to a variety of books that address certain apologetic issues. And perhaps you can write up some categories of apologetics that readers can contribute to. If I may, I’d like to suggest some categories that I felt should have been put on your list, or at least should have been in your mind when giving the bibliography (hence, my critique of your list (;-)!

    1. The deity of Christ. This was not on the list, nor did any of the books you mentioned focus especially on that issue. I think this is a vital one, if not THE vital one, that Christians need to know about. And the book that needs to be put as #1 is Ed Komoszewski’s and Rob Bowman’s _Putting Jesus in His Place_. It’s the first popular look at this most precious truth that is rigorously based on solid scholarship, and it’s the first general defense of the deity of Christ in more than a quarter of a century. Every Christian needs to read this book and know its arguments well.

    2. The resurrection of Christ. You nailed it with the two books you mentioned.

    3. Miracles. The classic defense of miracles is the book by the same name by C. S. Lewis. Norm Geisler has also written some of the best treatment on miracles.

    4. Text and Canon of the NT. Sadly, there aren’t a whole lot of books that argue that the NT has not been well enough preserved that that the core message is still intact, nor books written for a lay audience that give valid reasons for accepting the NT canon. But _Reinventing Jesus_, co-authored by Ed Komoszewski, Jim Sawyer, and Dan Wallace, has much material on both areas. It also addresses the parallels with the mystery religions, discusses the background of the Nicene Council (which affirmed the deity of Christ), how we can have some certainty that the Gospels give us a sufficiently accurate picture of Jesus, etc. The issue of the text is a major one among Muslim apologists, and it deserves a reasoned response.

    5. Books that deal with the current onslaught of the Christian faith by scholars to scholars and those by scholars for a general readership. In the first category, the issues of authorship of the Gospels, oral memory, and the historical Jesus are especially focused on. Eddy and Boyd’s _The Jesus Legend_ and Richard Bauckham’s _Jesus and the Eyewitnesses_ are excellent resources, though they are written on a scholarly level. Books written for general readership are still needed. And popular, responsible books that interact with Bart Ehrman’s many attacks on the Christian faith are desperately needed, too. They’re coming…

  16. I’d be interested to hear Michael’s (and others) response to Steve (#15).

  17. I agree Dan. I have my library set up where I have general apologetics, apologetics about truth, apologetics about the existence of God, traditional apologetics (i.e. Roman Catholicism, Mormons, other religions, etc.), the historic Christ, historicity of Scripture.

    Lots of other books I could have included.

  18. You just made my reading list longer – grrrrrrrr

  19. I’m surprised that Reinventing Jesus didn’t make the list.

    I fully agree with putting Mere Christianity at the top of the list. The importance of this book probably can’t be fully appreciated. I once heard a talk by Francis Collins, in which he described his upbringing as an atheist and his realization that he had never really given religious faith a fair shake. He began studying the world’s religions and then came to read Mere Christianity, which he claims “changed his life”. Many skeptics make the assertion that Christians only come to faith for non-rational, emotional reasons, but here was a lifelong atheist, and one of the brightest ones of the bunch, coming to faith in Christ for intellectual reasons, and having reached those conclusions thanks to Lewis! What impresses me most about Mere Christianity is that Lewis managed to surpass it with other writings; he had quite a few aces up his sleeve.

  20. I doubt any one single book by any author will totally cut it….it’s written by a human, duh……

    Every book will be flawed somehow, and every book will address some aspects of our own searching, whether as Christians or non-Christians, at different point in our lives…

    Josh McDowell was big early on, but others came along….After reading Dr Steve Kumar’s introductory book (can’t remember the title) on different apologists/systems, I picked up Francis Schaeffer’s Trilogy. Wow…..this was what I wrote in the cover page of each copy of Total Truth (by Nancy Pearcey) that I gave away:

    “Before John Piper set my world ablaze, Francis Schaeffer had to teach me how to think.

    Think because it is a gift to thinkers.”


  21. I would recommend some of the older works that are now unjustly forgotten, including Joseph Butler, The Analogy of Religion, William Paley, A View of the Evidences of Christianity and Horae Paulinae, George Campbell, A Dissertation on Miracles, and Nathaniel Lardner, Credibility of the Gospel History (in 17 volumes).

    To be sure, 18th and 19th century scholarship can and should be updated; Paley, for example, seems unaware of the Muratorian Canon and could not have known about Codex Sinaiticus. Yet for all that, it would be a better world if every minister out there had absorbed the contents of even one or two of these books.

    There is an annotated bibliography introducing some of these works here, including hyperlinks where each of them can be downloaded in pdf form for free.

  22. Nice list. There are so many with their inherent strengths and weaknesses.

    Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey – This is Schaeffer retreaded and more comprehensive. She’s also a better writer.

    Does God Believe in Atheists? – John Blanchard

    Intellectuals Don’t Need God – by Alistair McGrath

    I’m Glad You Asked – by Kenneth Boa (not scholarly, but broad and accessible to most any reader.)

    Notes From the Tilt a Whirl – by ND Wilson (a really fun read…certainly not pure apologetics, but a book you could give anyone that creatively addresses ex nihilio creation, resurrection and the problem of evil. Think an intelligent, more coherent Donald Miller.)

  23. “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis

    “Can Man Live Without God” by Ravi Zacharias

    I wish Ravi’s book had been included in your poll. I would have liked to have seen how it fared.

  24. Personally, the fact that McDowell, Lewis and Strobel are popular makes me think twice about them :^O

    If you are interested in truth then we need to be careful. Even William Lane Craig agrees that Liar-Lunatic-Lord is an unsound argument and yet I encounter Christians who believe that it is a debate stopper. With me, it is. Likewise most of McDowell’s arguments assume the very thing he is trying to prove. when I complained to my wife about Strobels first book, the one I actually read, she said that maybe it is only meant to convince Christians. Damned by praise.

    So the problem I see is that recommending a book like Mere Christianity – with its flawed logic and poor understanding of biology and sociology – sends Christians out into the world armed with squirt guns when they really need bazookas.

    Apologetics is hard, of course. Can your average layperson (or minister?) be equipped with more than pithy arguments? Heck, the professionals – I mean N T Wright, not hacks like McDowell – struggle with these questions among themselves. So much of the core of Christian belief lends itself poorly to intellectual argumentation. I sometimes wonder if it is an impossible cause. I guess I am not the first.

  25. Scott,

    I think complaints about the trilemma are generally based on misunderstandings of what Lewis is doing in Mere Christianity. This issue was discussed pretty thoroughly by a group of professional philosophers over on the old Maverick Philosopher blog — go here and follow the discussion through the thread if you’re interested.

    On the broader issue, I am much less pessimistic than you are about the possibility of presenting a strong public case. Yes, this requires pointing out where people like Ehrman and Mack and Crossan go off the rails, and that takes professional chops. But I think that in many cases the reasoning behind the critique can be explained clearly to nonspecialists. Dan Wallace has done this with Ehrman, for example.

  26. Scott,

    Referring to apologetics in militant terms (bazooka??) discredits your approach.

    Good apologetic materiel is much more useful in encouraging the flock than arguing with skeptics. Therefore, apologetics is more pastoral than militant, which is why it serves as a defense, not a “bazooka.”

  27. Sorry about the bazooka bit, it was the first analogy that came to mind. Although Christians face a hostile world, wouldn’t it be remarkable if they managed to “overturn” it through Love?

    (It sure is hard to avoid at least confrontational phraseology.)

  28. Hi Tim. I realize that Lewis was ostensibly addressing only the claim that Jesus was merely a great teacher. Yet, by the end of the argument the only palatable option he seems to leave is that Jesus is God. I will try to look in on your linked discussion but it is not just me who comes away with a supposedly mistaken impression. As an apologetic, I only ever see it used by people (not named C S Lewis) as a proof that Jesus was God. If it is so widely misunderstood and misapplied by Christians than it’s value as an apologetic book is somewhat diminished.

    This segues into my pessimism about apologetics in general. When actually used in the (mission) field, the tactics and arguments are so often muddled and distorted by the laity that it can bring disrepute on that which it seeks to advance. Then again, atheists seem stuck with Hitchens and Dawkins! I sometimes despair generally…

    * My bias against Lewis-as-apologist started when my office mate left a copy on my desk. I couldn’t even finish it. So my comments are colored by my own impressions. I don’t mean to hijack this discussion.

  29. I have a few more books that have been meaningful to me (though I’ll admit quite a few on this list also have been meaningful in my studies). I would definitely add:

    1. “Love Your God With All Your Mind” by J.P. Moreland
    2. “There Is A God” by Antony Flew
    3. “Jesus Under Fire” edited by J.P. Moreland and Michael Wilkins
    4. “Dethroning Jesus” by Darrell Bock and Daniel Wallace
    5. “Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview” by William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland
    6. “Christian Apologetics” by Norm Geisler
    7. “Introduction to Philosophy: A Christian Perspective” by Norm Geisler
    8. “Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Midair” by Greg Koukl and Francis Beckwith
    9. “The Jesus Legend” by Paul Eddy and Greg Boyd
    10. “The Historical Jesus” by Gary Habermas



  30. Richard Hornick October 10, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    The omission of Cornelius Van Til is most amazing. I was surprised not to see it. I will be even more amazed if it is not added to the list. Perhaps you should have two lists, one scholarly and one popular.

  31. 15. Mere Christianity by CS Lewis: A classic. And useful.

    14. The Consequences of Ideas by R.C. Sproul: Get your feet on the ground with a brief history of philosophy from a Christian, Reformed perspective.

    13. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels by Craig Blomberg: An essential – because these issues never go away.

    12 Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe: Remains the biggest blow to Darwinism.

    11. The Origin of the Bible by Comfort, Packer, Bruce, and Henry: Get a grip on how the Bible was formed and what it means for it to be “infallible”; Canon and Criticism, all wrapped up in a series of fabulous essays.

    10. The Case for Life by Scott Klusendorf: The most decisive blow to pro-abortion, and a concise treatment on the subject of in-utero infanticide.

    9. Heresies by Harold J. Brown: All of the big debates that have evolved out of church history in apologetic form.

    8. Dethroning Jesus by Daniel Wallace and Darrel Bock: Your one-stop volume for the “historical Jesus.”

    7. The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God by John Frame: A wonderful combination of Philosophy, Epistemology, and God-honoring theology.

    6. Is the Mormon My Brother? by James R. White: The first book anyone should read on Mormonism and Christianity. Period.

    5. Total Truth by Nancey Pearcey: A superb introduction and overview of 21st century societal and worldview conflict.

    4. Faith With Reason by Joseph Farinaccio: A superb and brief defense of the Christian worldview; this book is perfect to give to skeptical friends.

    3. Reformed Dogmatics by Herman Bavinck: The most scholarly, comprehensive, and balanced systematic theology ever accomplished in history and available in the English language; addresses all of the skeptics and tries to see them in their best light…before tearing them to shreds with a godly attitude of eloquence and humility.

    2. A Christian Theory of Knowledge by Cornelius Van Til: The most important book on “Christian” philosophy (esp. epistemology); because Van Til (Ph.D Philosophy, Princeton University) was never afraid to begin with the Lordship of Christ in his apologetic.

    1. Always Ready by Greg Bahnsen: The best book on Christian apologetics; introduction, manual, and reference all in one. Not too big. Not too small. Not too complicated. Not too fluffy.

  32. Orthodoxy -G.K – all great but this one the best for me!

  33. John Frame’s Apologetics to the Glory of God

  34. To not have Van Til on any list when the subject is Apologetics is alarming.

  35. The Defense Never Rests: A Lawyers Quest for the Gospel by Craig Parton

    This is perhaps a bit more of an “inside” apologetic to have Christ and the Gospel be central in the Church rather than moralism and “advice” a la Olsteen.

  36. I think an unfortunate malady within the apologetics/debate arenas is the continuation of discrediting apologists and philosophers based solely on a single flawed argument they present. C. S. Lewis apparently is a target of ridicule and disagreement by some Christians. Another malady is when Christians refuse to read from such apologists because there is an obvious flaw in one of their extrapolations. We often seek the perfect apologist who presents undebatable evidences to the table, but there is no possible man or woman who exists that has that intellectual acumen and astuteness. Even those closest to Jesus and who walked with him had quarrels regarding Christian theology with each other. Do not discredit C. S. Lewis just because he was lousy on one topic: he even admits he is only a layman of theology.

  37. I was pleasantly surprised to see Pascal on your list. I think the strength of Pascal is not in his famous wager argument or even his apologetics tools. The strength of his work is twofold. First, it recognizes that reason alone is insufficient and people are more convinced by the answers they find for themselves. Secondly, the meditative quality of the entries has a transforming power over the Christian that makes him or her better suited for engaging in apologetics with real people who are more than just reasonable beings.

  38. I am interested in the best book that deals with proposed contradictions in scripture. Do any of you have suggestions along those lines?

  39. I’d also like a good source for dealing with “supposed contradicitons”.

  40. George and Brad,

    What you’re looking for is something like Thomas Hartwell Horne, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, vol. 2, pp. 432 ff. If your particular question has to do with alleged internal contradictions, make sure to look at pp. 450 ff. You might also consider Richard Watson, An Apology for the Bible, which is a response to some of the attacks made by Thomas Paine that are still circulating on the Internet today.

    It is also worth considering the perspective that the Bible can contain reliable history even if it is not inerrant. The sources of secular history quite often contradict each other in the most flagrant fashion, yet historians have no qualms about saying that they can use those sources to reconstruct, say, the life of Tiberius Caesar. So even if you are personally committed to inerrancy, it is worth remembering that the truth of Christianity need not stand or fall with that doctrine. Many Christian apologists have not been inerrantists. C. S. Lewis and F. F. Bruce come to mind.

  41. As a proposed extension to Tim’s suggestion on historical reliablility of ancient documents: historians still disagree over the events of ancient times. Some things you can know, some you have to conject (a word?).

  42. “The Everlasting Man” G.K. Chesterton.

    This book helped me significantly in my first steps back to christianity.

  43. How can any one post anything on the subject of apologetics and leave out GK Chesterton? I know it may be subjective because religion may play a role but Christianity is Christianity. C Lewis doesnt even make my top 20. Its like saying Reggie Jackson is the best player to ever put on a Yankee uniform! wrong. Reggie is a great player, but lets start with Babe Ruth at number 1 and work our way all the way down to Reggie. Chesterton is ages above all.o

  44. I don’t know if anyone suggested this is any of the comments, but what about _Christian Apologetics_ by Douglas Groothuis?

  45. Thanks for the list as apologetics is new to me. I have looked at overviews of the different types of arguments and one that I am preplexed about is the presuppositional argument used in some cases. My question is how to use that argument to be most effective without having it turned against me? Can atheists use the arguement to defend their own nonbelief and argue that those who believe in God all ready have the presuppositional that He exists with no real proof? Thanks for any clarification of this.

  46. C.S. Lewis is more a philosopher than biblical theologian.

  47. Just finished reading Fabricating Jesus by Craig A Evans. Not so much apologetics for the faith per se, but does a very good job of demolishing arguments that Jesus never existed, other discovered ‘Gospels’ deserve as much a footing as the four canonical ones, as well as throwing in good evidence against modern attacks on the New Testament (from Dan Brown, Robert Funk, et al). Read through it all in three days, and will wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested in the historicity of the canonical Gospels.

  48. Suprised “tactics” by Greg Koukl isn’t on this list. Majority of apologists call it a “must read.”….id have to agree.

  49. For proposed contridictions/Bible difficulties, I would recommend Dr. Gleason L. Archer’s book, Encycolpedia of Bible Difficulties.

  50. Not surprised that Mere Christianity is first in this list. :) This book is my personal favorite alongside Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God and McDowell’s The Evidence That Demands a Verdict. I also recommend More Than a Carpenter by McDowell as well as Simply Christian by N. T. Wright. I still know heaps of books on Christian apologetics, perhaps anyone who is interested may check out .


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