What was humankind like in the year of Jesus' death? What's the history that lies behind the Gospel texts? Supplemented by maps, charts, timelines, fictional vignettes, and character studies, this accessible resource paints a vivid portrait of the world that saw the inauguration of Christianity---from Jerusalem and Rome to China and beyond. 256 pages, hardcover from InterVarsity.
At times, a novel can be found that is as informative as nonfiction, or a biography that is as exciting as an adventure tale. Colin Duriezs AD 33: The Year that Changed the World is both. Part history, part biography, and part well-crafted story, it offers a summary of Christianitys beginning years that can both teach and entertain.
Though Duriez has a distinctive Christian perspective, the pagan and Jewish events of the era take up fully two-thirds of the book. The opening segment is of Rome, with its sometimes violent politics and strong rivalries. Rome is the setting for the events of that momentous year. The shift from Rome to the Jewish element in it and to Jerusalem is natural, as is the shift from Jerusalem to the Jewish carpenter who would be crucified there. The shifting continues throughout the book, so that the various elements stay contemporary in the readers mind. From the beginning of the story in AD 32 to the end years later, it is interesting and thought-provoking. The explanation of chronology in the final pages is very helpful as a resource for those less familiar with ancient times. Duriez uses a vast store of knowledge from Scripture, Jewish histories, and Roman histories to weave the picture of Jesus last year on earth.
The amount of research and knowledge contributing to AD 33 is impressive. Duriez draws regularly and openly from the Gospels, from Jewish historian Josephus, and from Roman sources such as Seutonius. Every assertion made has sources from which it was gathered; yet the ease with which he presents them suggests good familiarity with the subject matter and skill with language. The sections of narrative interspersed throughout the text are especially interesting.
Admittedly, this is not a light book for any but the most serious of historians. It is, however, full of facts and details, and is written in a compelling way. Christians should know the importance of Jesus place in history, and those skeptical of Christianity can learn in AD 33 just how much history there is with Jesus in it. Linette E. Yoder, Christian Book Previews.com
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