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Christian Beginnings from Nazareth to Nicaea, AD 30-325
by Geza Vermes
Publisher:Allen Lane imprint of Penguin, from Gardners
Published:07 July 2012
Geza Vermes’ scholarship is widely acclaimed. His recent book follows the development of Christian ideas during the first three centuries when the struggle to do something with that ragbag of experiences, memories, hopes, misunderstandings, was being formulated into a faith called Christianity. Here it staggered through persecution only to be faced with political ownership. Geza Vermes uses the earliest, most authentic documents to chart the process. For those who want their faith to come out of the Bible fully formed then this book will be an irrelevance. If however you struggle to understand what happened to make the words of an intuitive and charismatic prophet’s ministry about a kingdom that was more topsy-turvy than any child’s fairytale, into the stereotypical faith we find in most of our Churches, this book will help, though it may also sadden you.
It is clearly and helpfully written, so that we are not overburdened by the more arcane arguments of the early Church Fathers. Geza Vermes concentrates on the development of early Church liturgy and practice, and on the discussions about who Jesus really was, and how belief in his divinity matured. These are things that should be discussed much more widely and I recommend the book most strongly.
Reviewer: Peter Scott (10/09/12)