A little while ago I reviewed The Longest Week by Nick Page, which took a look from an historical point of view at the last week of Jesus’ life in Jerusalem. Having enjoyed it so much, I was pleased to find that Page soon followed it with a ‘prequel’ if you like, The Wrong Messiah, which I duly purchased and have recently finished reading. It takes much the same approach – which is to treat the text of the Gospels historically and gather contextual information around it with a particular view to elucidating key themes – and applies it to the rest of Jesus’ life.
The key theme to be brought out naturally was that of Jesus’ Messiahship, and (characteristic of Page’s style and as indicated by the title) specifically how Jesus looked nothing like what the Jews of His day expected of a Messiah. He does well to stick to this theme throughout, especially towards the end where it overlaps with the narrative with which he engaged in The Longest Week.
The book is fairly clearly meant to appeal to a wide readership and for this reason I doubt whether it would get much academic credence; however looking at it the other way around, Page engages extremely well with primary and secondary sources, making this a truly valuable work: something which can distill the historical facts and scholarly views into something coherent enough for most lay-readers to enjoy. I think that’s something worth celebrating. We need far more books like that in the Christian world!
The good news is that Page has just published a third volume in the ‘series’, entitled Kingdom of Fools, going yet again for that ‘upside-down’ theme found in TWM, the aim of which is to follow on from the work he did in covering the Gospels and do much the same with the book of Acts – assessing the rise of the early church and using historical data to enhance our understanding of it. Naturally, I look forward to reading it! I can highly recommend any of these books to any Christians wishing to take a fresh contextual look at the New Testament. It’s well worth it.