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Reviewed by Leonard William Smuts for Readers' Favorite
The story of Jesus has inspired Christians for almost two thousand years, but little is known about this charismatic yet enigmatic figure. The basis of our knowledge is contained in four Gospels from the New Testament of the Christian Bible, with some amplification in the books which follow. This is backed by a large body of information emanating from the early Church of Rome, which set out Christian beliefs and doctrine. How much of this is fact? In writing Jesus, Son of God or Rabble- Rouser, Roger Landriault sets out to uncover who Jesus really was in this in-depth analysis of current religious dogma, archaeological findings, plus the writings of linguists, scholars, and theologians. He has researched the Gospels, digging deeply into their origins, authors, and the many apparent anomalies. He also poses the question as to whether the motivation of Jesus went beyond spiritual teaching into politics - including the overthrow of the Roman occupation of Palestine. He suggests that this political motive was downplayed by the translators of the Gospels to make them more acceptable in Rome, at a time when the fledgling Christian church was trying to establish itself as an official religion. The controversial role and agenda of the early church are examined in detail, extending into the Dark Ages with all its church-sponsored brutality, culminating in the Crusades and infamous Inquisitions. The far-reaching findings are startling and in some cases backed by similar research from other authors.
Jesus, Son of God or Rabble-Rouser does not set out to discredit Jesus, merely to re-examine events that have been open to misinterpretation, mistranslation, and in some cases misrepresentation over the millennia. The Gospels were written many years after Jesus' death and the translations and interpretations are not necessarily accurate. Roger Landriault makes the point that situations appear to have been embellished, while also reflecting a lack of knowledge of Jewish customs. Even the identification of the personalities involved is difficult, due to confusion over the names. The apparent editing sanitizes history and portrays a different picture, probably to appease pagans who were being drawn into the Christian fold during the formative years. Many of the accepted facts about Jesus bear an uncanny resemblance to those of contemporary pagan figures such as Mithras and Dionysus, raising the possibility that the biblical Jesus has evolved into a composite character. I particularly applaud the new information concerning both Mary of Magdala (sic) and Judas (Iscariot) - two of the most misunderstood characters in the Gospels. Some of the conclusions drawn will not meet with universal approval, but the questions are valid and deserve debate at the highest level. This is a challenging but insightful book, offering a credible portrayal, backed by extensive research. It is highly recommended and should be read with an open mind.