Tonight I will finish Anthony Le Donne’s The Wife of Jesus: Ancient Texts and Modern Scandals, so hopefully I’ll have a review of the book ready by tomorrow, but tonight I want to say one thing: there is something wrong when Reza Aslan’s Zealot: The Life of Times of Jesus of Nazareth and Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus: A History will have sold more copies than this book by year’s end. Le Donne’s writing is scholarly, yet readable. He is honest, as objective as possible, careful with the facts, and cautious with speculation. If either Aslan or O’Reilly had been any of these things their books wouldn’t exist.
For anyone aiming to make their studies of the historical Jesus, or early Christianity, or early Judaism accessible to the public without compromising the need for rigorous research I think this book can serve as a model. People who read it will be introduced with necessary levelheadedness to things that the media enjoys sensationalizing, such as The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, Morton Smith’s Secret Gospel of Mark, The Da Vinci Code, and those Gospels that were not canonized (e.g., Gospel of Peter, Thomas).
I will have more to say about this book when I do a full review, but I did want to gripe a bit about how pseudo-scholarship has presented Jesus in the public square in juxtaposition with a book written by a clear thinking, detail oriented scholar who knows how to connect historical Jesus studies to everything from lyrics from Dave Matthew’s Band, to popular novels and movies, to famous works of art. We need more books like Le Donne’s and less like the sort that have made their way to the top of the New York Times Best Sellers List.
FYI: Christopher Skinner has written his review already, so make sure to read it.