Book Review: "Jesus: A Short Life"

Book Review: “Jesus: A Short Life” by John Dickson (2012) Lion Books, 160 pages.

John Dickson’s book is intended to be “an accessible and reliable re-presentation of what the leading historical experts are saying about the life of Jesus”. Drawing on sound research by mainstream scholars of the historical Jesus, Dickson’s book is a clear, lively and readable account of what we know about Jesus. Contrary to claims by some that Jesus’ very existence is still a matter of dispute, we do in fact know a great deal about the course of Jesus’ life – when and where he lived and died, and what he did during his public activity. Jesus is mentioned in no fewer than 11 texts in the Graeco-Roman writings of the 1st and 2nd centuries, most significantly in Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities and in Tacitus’ Annals of the Roman Empire. John Dickson is able to say “what really should not have to be said… No one in the know doubts the existence of Jesus”. Beginning with an examination of the historical reliability of the New Testament, Dickson considers in turn what we know about Jesus’ family background, his mentor John the Baptist, and Jesus’ own teachings, miracles, death, resurrection and appearances to his followers. A straightforward read, and highly recommended. Borrow it, free of charge, from St Helen’s Church lending shelf.

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