Book suggestion


Hey there

I’m sure many of you have heard of the new book “Zealot”. For those who haven’t, it’s a book written by a Muslim about the life of Jesus and the history of that time. It’s pretty popular, however not reliable as you can well imagine. It reminds me of the Dan Brown.

Here’s a overview of what you need to know about the book by Jimmy Akin:

Anyway, this sparked an interest in me. I was wondering if anyone knew of a good book written by a reliable Catholic or Christian about this time that, with cited sources and a scholarly tone, explains the history about that time. I don’t want it to directly focus on Jesus, but I want info about what was going on around that time. You know what I mean.

Thanks for your time!



There are literally hundreds of books, let alone other resources, available. Classical studies, philosophy, history, New Testament studies, etc. all overlap during the reign of Augustus Caesar (that is, during Christ's life). You couldn't really ask for a time or a field that has as many books about it, and is as well-documented, until the birth of modernity.

There are scores of entire journals which quarterly publish several hundred pages of research in to some aspect of this period, earliest Christianity, the New Testament, Imperial Rome, etc. dealing with alternately broad strokes and minutiae. Even one of those fields is beyond the mastery of an individual man! In German, ANRW is a ongoing project that began as a festschrift and contains as of now fifty volumes of studies of every conceivable aspect of Imperial Rome - including Christianity.

There are ancient works and modern works. I need to know more of what you want, and not just what you don't, before I can begin to narrow the list down to a point where I can pull suggestions out of my mind. I understand you don't want a life of Christ: do you want a history of early Christianity? A history of Rome at the time of Christ? A history of the Jews at that time? Of religious movements? An analysis of socioeconomic milieux of Christianity? An overview of the philosophies common at the time? A history or study that would be considered a general "background commentary" such as would give an overview of the entirety of Graeco-Roman life at the time of Christ? Essays on the relation of Christ to the law? The quest for the "historical Jesus"?

Do you want to know of Jesus, of Christianity, of Judaism, of Rome, of Greece, of Judaea, or of Plato and Plotinus and Augustine? Are you looking only for an answer to Islam? (If so, Answering Islam by Saleeb and Geisler.) Are you looking for extrabiblical evidence to corroborate the Biblical history?

Now, do you want those written by infidels or believers, Jews or Christians (Muslim work on Jesus is not to be trusted, as indicated by The Gospel of Barnabas and Jesus, Prophet of Islam, etc.)? By liberals or conservatives? Revisionists or traditionalists? Primary sources or secondary sources?

For a start, I'll throw out some names, and you can look them up on Amazon and see if they're what you're looking for. My best guess is you're looking for something to refute that book. Here are some works that may interest you, with a focus on a Christian response to the Islamic lies about Christ:

The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? - FF Bruce
The Canon of Scripture - FF Bruce
Misquoting Truth - Timothy Paul Jones
The Heresy of Orthodoxy - Kostenberger and Kruger
The New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration - Metzger (new editions are Metzger and Ehrman)

And an additional set of works that may interest you if your interest is greater in learning the period and its movements:

A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ - Emil Schurer
Early Christian Doctrines - JND Kelly
The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era - James S Jeffers
History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Gibbon, first three volumes.

By which time you will have moved in to the period of:

The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology - Leo Donald Davis.


Haha. You bring up a good point. Sorry for being vague.

Yeah, I guess in all honesty I'd be interested in all the topics you've brought up. However it would take a lifetime to study all that!

I'll just take it one step at a time. The titles you brought up are perfect though!

I got into an discussion with my sister today about the book and she believes the census in Luke isn't a historical fact. That's what sparked my orgional post. So I guess, I'd love a book or perhaps a website with reliable sources that explain that.

That might be my starting point. Sheesh. I should have put that in my first post:shrug:


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