TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO: The World at the Time of Jesus

Charles A. Frazee, Author . Eerdmans $24 (248p) ISBN 978-0-8028-4805-5

Frazee expertly imagines Jesus' life and destiny had he been born anywhere but Bethlehem. Every chapter of this oversized coffee table book covers a region of the world during the era of Christ, offering an accessible and entertaining update on the religious and spiritual beliefs of each land. Frazee, a professor of church history at Episcopal Theological School in Claremont, California, muses upon how Jesus would have influenced each region had it been his birthplace. For instance, as a miracle worker Christ may have wowed the Egyptians, since their spirituality was heavily influenced by magical thinking. But in Northern Europe, Frazee claims, Jesus' teachings might have flopped. The Celts, Germans, and other Europeans were so focused on survival and resolving conflicts with violence, that "Jesus' teaching of love, non-violence, and peace would have seemed preposterous to them." In China, Jesus' linear concept of time and his focus on entering God's kingdom would have clashed with the secular views of Confucius and Lao-tzu, who "were intent on instructing men and women on how to find harmony in this lifetime, not in any lifetime to come." Frazee's compelling comparisons also include the Arctic, Pacific Islands, and the Americas—almost always concluding that Jesus' teachings would never have taken hold anywhere other than the Middle East. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/28/2002
Release date: 11/01/2002
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