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This review is from: Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Hardcover)
This was one of the most interesting books I read last year. Let me be clear, this is a book about a man called Jesus. It is not written as a religious book. It is not a book about faith. It is written objectively as an academic text, with an historical orientation, and little room for obtuse theologian arguments. The author has been very careful in what he has included in the text to -presumably- keep the Bible-belt dwellers and Daily Mail readers of limited breadth of vision from getting upset. To much so, perhaps as I finished the book with my interest stimulated but not fully satisfied. I wanted more.
The first section of the book deals with Jesus' early life and times, including his time with John the Baptist. The second with his surprisingly short ministry and death. The third section looks at the founding of the early church and establishing and altering the pure (Jewish) basis of the faith for a wider gentile audience.
There are huge gaps. Some are understandable - the author doesn't write where there is no evidence to discuss. However, having rationalised so much in his writing, and focussed on Jesus as a man, with human ambitions for a Jewish state governed by God's law in it's purest form, we are still left with question marks. Despite being grounded firmly on Jesus was a human being when it comes to discussing his work, disciples, ambitions and intentions, no discussion is made, for example, of how Jesus earned such a reputation for healing and miracles. It is stated that they were not magic tricks or illusions, as others (named) were doing at the time. It is acknowledged that miracles happened. And that his fame was based on them. So how did Jesus the man achieve this? An unwelcome gap that needed more discussion IMHO.
Similarly, when we get to the third section,with all the Byzantine intriguing of the 1st C apostles and varieties of Christian churches, who do we find in charge at head office in Jerusalem? Jesus' brother, that's who. He turns up out of nowhere and simply takes over the whole shebang. Where had he been for the last 30 years? How had Jesus interacted with key personalities such as this? It's a huge gap, and the book isn't such a long one that a bit more writing in this area couldn't have been added.......
So this book is something of an allegorical Art Gallery. Three walls with different themes on each, and each theme a collection of paintings and sketches on that theme, each beautifully formed in its own right. When viewed as a whole, however the gaps between them sometimes seem to take up a lot more wall than you would like, and this is the main problem I had with the book. I wanted more. It wasn't there.
I was going to rate this 3*, for omission, but I do want to encourage you to read this book, which Btw is very well written as far as it goes.
This book will change your thinking on 1stC Holy Land. It may answer some questions for you, but it will surely also leave you thirsting for more knowledge on the subject.