Tuesday, February 16, 2010
L. Michael White's "From Jesus to Christianity"
This was an interesting and fairly exhausting survey of the era from just before Jesus to 200 AD. Its main focus was on the development of Christianity as a separate religion with its own scripture and church. It covers modern scholarly opinion. It is fine stuff, but it doesn't have the zing, the excitement, to opinions that would make the fairly dry material "stick". So I was disappointed. It isn't exhaustive enough to be a reference book and it isn't challenging enough to be a "good read". It is simply a substantial book on a difficult subject that treads carefully to give authoritative views. So I was left unhappy.
The writer, L. Michael White, was the expert behind the PBS Frontline documentary From Jesus to Christ. That was excellent. This book was so-so.
I know it is hard to write "exciting stuff" about such a well researched field, but I do like other writers better: Bart D. Ehrman, John Dominic Crossan, and Paula Fredriken come to mind as writers who had a more deft hand in writing an engaging story. White is exhaustive, but without a thematic line to drive the "story" along it becomes just words. I was left paging back and forth in White's book trying to get things to "stick" in my memory. The writing was too dry.
This book is worth a read, but I suspect you will be disappointed as I was. It is solid material, but it is presented in a format which just doesn't "stick".