Geza Vermes is not a believer in Jesus, but his historical and literary excellence is worth a read. Hardback. 285 pages.
He says, "Though the New Testament gospels are some of the most extraordinary documents ever written, the picture they provide of Jesus' world is a very partial one. This remarkable work paints a comprehensive and colorful picture of the world that Jesus knew."
From detailed, convincing portraits of John the Baptist, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Jesus himself, and other key figures, to the Jewish and Hellenistic leaders often ignored in scripture, Who's Who in the Age of Jesus is a critical, in-depth look at one of the most tumultuous eras in human history.
©2006 Geza Vermes; (P)2006 Tantor Media Inc.
A reviewer has written:
Author and scholar Geza Vermes was born to Jewish parents in Hungary, who converted to Roman Catholicism. He became a priest, and later an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He later left the Catholic Church, but is now known for his studies on the historical Jesus and the relationship of Jesus and the early church to the Jewish milieu from which they sprang.
In this fascinating book, the author gives a Who's Who in the ancient Roman and Israelite worlds, showing them from Biblical and extra-Biblical sources in a more full light. For example, what do you know about the High Priests who appear briefly in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles? If you want to know more, pick up this book and see what their contemporaries had to say about them.
Overall, I found this book to be a mixed bag. The author does cast a wide net in finding information about the various people who appear (often briefly) in the Bible, giving a lot of truly relevant information on them. My problem with this book, though, is that the author fairly consistently considers the Bible to be an inferior source to just about all others.
I mean, who would be interested in this book? Someone who is deeply committed to a faith in Jesus Christ, and wants to know more. However, such a reader will not be pleased to have the Bible criticized as a source.
But, that said, I think that this book is a great resource, one that is sure to expand any reader's understanding of who the people were in the early Church, both insiders and outsiders.
Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention the great timeline that begins the book. It does a great job of putting Jesus and the early Church within its historic framework!