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The Death of Christ (Hardback)

The Bible and Popular Culture vs Archaeological and Historical Evidence

Ancient History > Rome & the Roman Provinces P&S History

By Steven Rutledge
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 272
Illustrations: 20 mono
ISBN: 9781399088770
Published: 30th August 2022



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What was the world like, and what was going on in it, around the time of Jesus’ death? This study examines this very question, and also seeks to place Jesus in his larger historical context, as a non-citizen resident of the Roman Empire living in Judaea and Galilee in the 20s and 30s AD. The book explores the larger background and context to some of the major power-brokers of the Roman Empire in Jesus’ day, including the emperor Tiberius, his ambitious Praetorian Prefect Sejanus, Judaea’s governor Pontius Pilate, and the client king who governed Galilee, Herod Antipas. It further explores some of the larger historical and cultural context and background of some of the characters who parade through the gospel accounts, including the treacherous informant Judas Iscariot, the tax collector turned apostle, Matthew, and the gruff centurion whose servant Jesus was said to have healed. The study also considers the nature of Jesus’ radical resistance to the Roman Empire, and seeks to contextualize it through comparison with other resistance movements. Attempts to recover the historical Jesus have sought to put him in his immediate context of ancient Galilee, Judaea, and the Jewish community to which he belonged. Instead this book gives the Roman historical background to the time and place of his ministry and death. Cast into relief against the much larger picture of the greater Roman world of which he was a part, the ministry of Jesus is quite radical indeed.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really liked this book, well written and easy to read . What drew me was the depiction of the Holy Land at and around the time of Christs' life. It provides vital context to set against how he and his followers coped with the Roman Empire and also their own religious leaders. I was not disappointed in Steven Rutledges' narrative, he draws the background well and it is a very accessible book for lay people and students alike. He covers the wider areas around the Holy Land and I was interested in how the Christian message was carried throughout the Middle east. I can recommend The Death of Christ highly.

NetGalley, Carol Elizabeth Keogh

A simply fascinating, thought-provoking, and impressively well presented study, Professor Steven Rutledge's "The Death of Christ: The Bible and Popular Culture vs Archaeological and Historical Evidence" includes maps, illustrations, family trees, a glossary, chapter notes, a bibliography, and an index. An exceptional work of meticulous research and simply outstanding scholarship, "The Death of Christ: The Bible and Popular Culture vs Archaeological and Historical Evidence" is a unique and strongly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library Christian History and Archaeology collections.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

This is an amazing piece of history that will fascinate believers and non-believers alike. The life and death of the most important person in so many billions of peoples' lives will resonate for years to come. This is a terrific piece of ancient history that cannot fail to move the reader.

Books Monthly

"Despite this, it is well written, easy to read, thoughtful and stimulating. The complex narrative deserves a time line of important events and activities but the text is assisted by useful maps, a Glossary of terms, with excellent Notes, a Bibliography and Index, plus several family trees, vital to understanding a huge cast of characters often with similar names."

Norfolk Family History Society - The Ancestor Magazine, September 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A very well written and researched boom, from both historical and biblical aspects. I highly recommend this book! I valuable source of information about the Romans and the times when Christ lived among us.

NetGalley, Alina Melinda

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Death of Christ is a well researched and written book including historical and Biblical accounts of the Roman world Jesus was born into (slavery, bribery, religious ceremonies, corrupt politics, purification) and what was happening at the same time He was performing miracles, healing and gathering disciples. Roman background is described, drawing from written accounts of Josephus, Pliny, Levy and Tacitus, the latter who wrote about the critical years of AD 14 to AD 68. Christ was a Jew who polarized folks...some reviled Him and His teachings, others were threatened by His pronouncements and still others were curious. His disciples and followers grew in leaps and bounds and they lived their lives in stark contrast with those of Romans...in a Roman-centric region. This caused friction and led to Christ's crucifixion.

Some prominent figures in this book include Agrippa and Agrippina, Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Herod Antipas, Julius Caesar. Claudius, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul (who led the "resistance"). Sejanus appointed Pontius Pilate. Pilate and Herod Agrippa were reluctant to have Jesus crucified and reasons are explained here. Tacitus explains who Christ was. Unlike other religious leaders he spoke with empathy about loving one's enemy, peace and forgiveness. He hung out with and welcomed prostitutes and tax collectors, cast-off lepers...but these ordinary relatable people were used by God to do great things. Herod heard about miracles and wanted to see something spectacular so was disappointed when it didn't happen. Judas Iscariot was an informant, a delator (unfamiliar term to me) who betrayed Jesus for silver.

Though heavy in places, the information is compelling and thought provoking. Anyone fascinated by contemporary events during the time of Jesus ought to read this insightful book. Included are photographs of sculptures, reliefs and paintings of greats including Caravaggio. I am grateful to have spent time in Rome where I imagine what life must have been like in those times of political upheaval, persecution, terrible executions but also introduction of the arts, culture and architecture. Though I am familiar with the teachings and life of Christ there is much here to learn for any level of enthusiast. The maps and family trees are helpful.

My sincere thank you to Pen & Sword for allowing me the privilege of reading this enthralling book and learning more about the personalities of those who lived during this important time of Christ.

NetGalley, Brenda Carleton

I think it's an interesting and thought provoking book. The author knows what he's talking about and it made me wish I could learn more about those times and his theories.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

About Steven Rutledge

Steven Rutledge is associate professor emeritus of Classics (University of Maryland, College Park), and adjunct professor of History at Linfield University (McMinnville, Oregon). He is the author of Imperial Inquisitions. Prosecutors and Informants from Tiberius to Domitian (Routledge 2001), Ancient Rome as a Museum. Power, Identity, and the Culture of Collecting (Oxford 2012), and A Tacitus Reader (Bolchazy-Carducci 2014); he has also written numerous articles on Roman history and culture.

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