Published around July, 2006 and weighing in at over 760 pages, 'Jesus and Archaeology' constitutes a major contribution to the title's field by a scholar with a distinguished pedigree. James H Charlesworth is perhaps best known for being closely involved with research and publishing in connection with the Dead Sea Scrolls, indeed, he heads the team of DDS scholars at Princeton Theological Seminary.
The archaeological sites covered within 'Jesus and Archeology' are mainly situated within Jerusalem, Galilee and Samaria; the work contains discussions and explanations of some of the various techniques employed by modern day archaeologists and historians. This is a very useful and quite considerable one-volume fund which will be usefully and possibly frequently dipped into by scholars, expositors and lay folk alike. It is logically presented and quite readable, even for non-specialists in this area.
Some previous reviewers - within critical circles - have questioned precisely how much genuinely fresh light is cast upon the First Century culture of Jesus and his contemporaries within this work, but few can question the progress outlined on the Qumran sites and at various other sites within and around the Jerusalem Old City - it was only quite recently, after all, that the exact location of the pool of Siloam was found and settled upon. Further north, sites about Galilee continue to illuminate and illustrate aspects of ancient Jewish Palestinian life under Roman occupation - such as the adoption of Roman imagery and iconography by certain sectors of the Jewish upper class strata (if indeed such termas themselves are not exssentially anachronistic)!
As this reviewer has already indicated, he is convinced that the majority of readers with anything like a committed interest in the question of Palestinian antiquity and it's relationship to and with Jesus of Nazareth - and it's difficult to imagine anybody considering purchasing this book, who is not genuinely interested in its field of study - will find it to be a useful source to refer to again and again. It is not a work for the dilettante, but neither is it inaccessible by any means.
Michael Calum Jacques