This distillation of the best-selling Killing Jesus: A History (2013) retains the original’s melodramatic tone and present-tense narration. Also its political agenda.
The conservative pundit’s account of Jesus’ life and, in brutal detail, death begins with a nonsensically altered title, an arguable claim to presenting a “fact-based book” and, tellingly, a list of “Key Players” (inserted presumably to help young readers keep track of all the names). Like its source, its prose is as purple as can be, often word for word: “There is a power to Jesus’s gait and a steely determination to his gaze.” Harping on “taxes extorted from the people of Judea” as the chief cause of continuing local unrest, the author presents Jewish society as governed with equal force by religious ritual and by the Romans, and he thoroughly demonizes Herod Antipas (“he even looks the part of a true villain”). Alterations for young readers include more illustrations, periodic sidebars, far fewer maps and a streamlining of context so that the focus is squarely on Jesus, with less attention on the historical moment—an unfortunate choice. Assorted notes on 16 various side topics, from a look at Roman roads to the rise of the cross as a Christian symbol, follow. A mix of 19th-century images, photos of ancient sites and artifacts supplement frequent new illustrations (not seen) from Low.
Insofar as the reading level of the book for adults is on a par with this effort—for the most part, only the substance has been simplified—it’s hard to see the value of this iteration. (source list, recommended reading) (Biography. 12-15)