I mentioned in my previous post that I had recently looked back over my first trade book, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. I don’t think I had read the preface in 20 years, and I wasn’t frankly, expecting to like it much when I decided to read it again. But as it turns out, I rather like it.
I’ve known other people like this, who rather appreciate the things they’ve written. (!) But in any event, there are a few points here that I don’t recall making ever again, especially about how “evidence” should play a role when discussing the historical Jesus (or the historical *anything*, from antiquity to most recent times; name your topic, and feel free to bring in both politics and religion!).
Here is what I say there:
Scholars have written hundreds of books about Jesus (not to mention the thousands of books written by non-scholars). A good number of these, mainly the lesser known ones, are written by scholars for scholars to promote scholarship; others are written by scholars to popularize scholarly views. The present book is one of the latter kind. I really don’t have a lot to say to scholars who have already spent a good portion of their lives delving into the complex world of first-century Palestine and the place that Jesus of Nazareth occupied within it. And frankly, having read tons of the books written by scholars for scholars, I don’t think anyone else has much more to say either. This is a well-beaten and much-trod path.
There does seem, though, to be room for another book for popular (i.e., general-reading) audiences. It’s not that there aren’t enough books about Jesus out there. It’s that there aren’t enough of the right kind of book. Very, very few, in fact.
For one thing, most popular treatments are inexcusably
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