The Dawn of Christianity: How God Used Simple Fishermen, Solders and Prostitutes to Transform the World by Robert J. Hutchinson
Published March 14, 2017 by Thomas Nelson
Genres Christian, History, Nonfiction
Drawing upon the most recent discoveries and scholarship in archaeology and the first-century Near East, The Dawn of Christianity reveals how a beleaguered group of followers of a crucified rabbi became the founders of a world-changing faith. How did Christianity truly come to be? Where did this worldwide faith come from? The Dawn of Christianity tells the story of how the first followers of Jesus survived the terror and despair of witnessing the one they knew to be the messiah—God’s agent for the salvation of the world—suddenly arrested, tried, and executed. Soon after Jesus’ death, his relatives and closest followers began hearing reports that Jesus was alive again—reports that even his most loyal disciples at first refused to believe. Using the most recent studies by top Christian and secular scholars, Robert Hutchinson, known for his popular books on Christianity and Biblical Studies, reconstructs all of the known accounts of these early resurrection appearances and follows the witnesses to the resurrection as they experience brutal persecution at the hands of zealots such as Saul of Tarsus and then become committed evangelists to the major population centers in Antioch, Damascus, Rome, and Athens—and ultimately across the world. A riveting thriller of the most improbable history-changing movement imaginable, The Dawn of Christianity brings to life the compelling story of the birth of Christianity.
I initially requested this book because I have a degree in Anthropology and saw the words archaeology in the description, which immediately caught my attention. This book is separated into 4 parts; The Road to Jerusalem, Alive, The Beginning of Persecution and The Expansion of the Jesus Movement. Each of these chapters contain many smaller chapters focusing on more specific topics. There is also a long timeline at the end of book starting with the birth of Jesus in 4-5 BC to the Apostle Paul being beheaded in Rome in AD64. About half, if not more, of the items on the timeline also have corresponding scripture references listed with them. After the timeline, there is a second appendix titled “Who’s Who In The Early Jesus Movement”, that lists and explains a number of people mentioned in the book and explains who they are, while also sometimes listing corresponding scripture. In the beginning of the book, there is also a map of the Eastern Mediterranean circa AD 30-50 and a map of Jerusalem circa AD 30.
Overall, I found this book to be filled with a great deal of interesting information and I really enjoyed reading it. It reads much like a history book and I think that even known believers might enjoy reading it from a historical perspective. I do have to say that this book is in no way trying to make anyone a believer, it is Biblical history. So to me, a believer, who has a background in history and anthropology, I really enjoyed reading this book and it was a from a perspective that I have previously not read. The author does use a few terms, such as “Jesus Movement” and “scholars doubted” that I didn’t particularly love, but again, this book is a Biblical history book, not a book that is trying to bring readers into the Christian religion. The author writes on a timeline, as listed above, and provides Biblical references, along with archeological information and information about the cultures and politics of that time. I found it to be a very interesting book about the history of early Christianity.