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Jesus: A Short Life

Lion Hudson 2008

Over 2000 years on, and despite the decline of the Christian church in the Western world, there is still enormous interest in the person of Jesus. Movies and books from across the fiction/non-fiction spectrum abound – all making claims about the man from Nazareth.

In his latest book, Dickson sets out to produce an ‘accessible and reliable re-presentation of what the leading historical experts are saying about the life of Jesus’, and to ‘explore only what historical method can uncover’.

Dickson certainly achieves an accessible overview of the historical evidence surrounding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. It does not set out to be a defence of Christian belief, but an exploration of what may be reasonably asserted about Jesus from an historical perspective.

Jesus: a Short Life is also well illustrated with a range of charts, pictures and Christian art.

However there is a somewhat harping, even patronising tone about Dickson’s criticism of those whose views differ from his own, most particularly Bishop John Spong and Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion).

As a historian Dickson should remember that all attempts at writing history are subject to what each of us inject into it. That is, we all ‘write’ history to an extent, from our own perspective depending on our own philosophical, historical and theological perspective.

Nevertheless Jesus: a Short Life is a helpful, easy to read offering for those seeking to understand what is generally accepted historically about Jesus.

Reviewed by Karyl Davison