I really have been enjoying this book. I ordered it the minute I heard the review of it on NPR's evening show, All Things Considered. Shortly after receiving it in the mail, I plopped it on my pile of 'up next books' and went on to finish a few other books. It was during that time that the book got 'picked up' by the mainstream news and certain websites that began the rant about its author being a Muslim, it's blasphemous questioning of the validity of Jesus as The Messiah, the anti-Christian undermining motive of the author, et cetera, et cetera. Bullocks all!
This book, I am finding, is a pretty straightforward presentation of historical research on the late Roman and early Christan eras, the literary history of the Bible as compared to other documents that reference the early Christian movement and the authors of the documents that came to be placed in the Bible, educated speculation about Jesus and his family and followers, and analysis of the terms and words used within the Gospels that open the Bible to more interpretation than has been given the typical person.
I welcome books like this because they make me think beyond the time-worn lessons that I grew up with in Sunday school and in countless sermons and religious discussions. I believe that my faith in Jesus and my God have not been shaken. They have been re-evaluated and found as strong as ever. The analysis of the texts and words of the Gospel open new windows of understanding of the world in which the Christian movement began, took form, and mirror so many of the continuing issues that confront us to this day.
There are certainly other books about Jesus that I could read, but this one came along at this moment in my life. It has spurred me to put down some of the frivolous things that I occupy my time with and look back to the roots of my faith. Is that a bad thing? I think not. Does it matter who wrote the book ? No. So I wonder ... what's all the hub-bub about?