Top positive review
41 people found this helpful
on 28 August 2003
I read this book from the viewpoint of an atheist fascinated by religions. It's unlikely a Christian will enjoy this book, with its fundamental predication (not unreasonable from a non-religious viewpoint) that the gospels are not accurate and indeed contain very little information on his life. Rather Wilson takes the approach of presuming jesus to be a rather typical jewish religious leader, and then draws on the canonical gospels (amongst others) for hints as to his life and character.
Where the book is truly fascinating is in its exposition of jewish society of the time. For instance, the Jews almost never persecuted heresies, and reported resurrections were actually quite common.
the book does have flaws. The author's obvious passion makes it readable, but there's an argumentative style that can lead to self-contradiction, eg the book refers to Jesus as a carpenter only pages from explaining that the aramaic word is ambiguous and could just as well mean scholar. It seems to me the author doesn't always stick to describing a credible historic persona but often seems content simply demonstrating errors in the gospels.
still a very rewarding read, and I did come away with an understanding of how a man could (largely unwittingly, it seems) become the keystone of one of the world's major religions.