n Neotestamentica - The Final Days of Jesus: The Thrill of Defeat, The Agony of Victory. A Classical Historian Explores Jesus’ Arrest, Trial, and Execution, Mark D. Smith - book reviews

Volume 53 Number 3
  • ISSN : 0254-8356
  • E-ISSN: 2518-4628


Mark D. Smith explains that this book “is a work of Roman history by a historian of the Roman Empire” (5). He hopes that the book will be different from others, offering a richer and more nuanced understanding of events that transpired at the Passover of 33 CE. Biblical scholars, he suggests, would benefit from perspectives and methodologies applied by historians. Smith laments the understanding of historical Jesus scholars especially, because they complain about how late the Gospels are as sources. “This complaint is rather curious from the perspective of the ancient historian,” Smith writes, “for we inhabit a scholarly world in which first generation evidence is rare and priceless” (17). Smith also regards the traditional dating of the Gospels as dubious and, for example, would date the Gospel of Mark to the late 50s or early 60s. Overall, the evidence is early, and he argues that it is difficult for legendary accretions to develop in first-generation sources. Smith has much respect for biblical scholarship, yet bypasses much “of the rigid and restrictive assumptions, methodologies and criteria employed by some historical Jesus scholars,” which according to him, “will not work if we hope to approach the study of the historical Jesus like any other historical issue” (37). It would appear, therefore, that when it comes to historical reconstruction, Smith deems biblical scholars to be a peculiar breed of their own.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error