The Death of Christ: The Bible and Popular Culture vs. Archaeological and Historical Evidence

Pen and Sword History. Oct. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9781399088770. $34.95. REL
Classicist Rutledge (Imperial Inquisitions: Prosecutors and Informants from Tiberius to Domitian) skillfully interweaves primary sources from the ancient Roman world to tell a coherent story of the death of Jesus Christ. However, readers might be surprised by how much of the narrative is spent following Roman legions in Britain and Gaul and how infrequently the conversation centers on Jesus. The studies of Tacitus, the lives of emperors and governors, and the violent intrigues of the Roman senate do have payoffs for understanding the world in which Jesus lived, but it is a long walk to reach them. On the one hand, Rutledge stays in his lane: history and classical sources. That’s a good thing. But the title and mysterious, clunky subtitle seem to (perhaps mistakenly) place the book in a rather densely argued area of biblical studies that reconstructs the life and times of Jesus.
VERDICT The text stays close to the primary classical sources but does not broadly engage the larger scholarly conversation about critical research and debates on the life of Jesus.
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