THE REBEL KING by Henry Marsh


Email this review


This creditable digest of Jesus' life and times from the vantage of Roman history and Jewish expectations is a pleasant exercise in popular historiography. Its sweep extends from the foundations of Jewish religion to the declaration of Constantine with the story of Jesus and his followers thrust onto center stage. Unscholarly, but informed, the account relies on Latin literature and the Bible to provide a plausible, at times melodramatic, version of the world's most retold story. Marsh -- doubtless an English gentleman of leisurely erudition -- writes in a lively, if arcane, style buttressed by King James Version quotations. Inevitably, with the limited hard historical evidence, his narrative has to trellis a string of conjecture, hypothesis, and legend on a paucity of solid fact. But by setting events in a richer historical context than most popular commentaries are wont to do, it renders intelligible to general readers many aspects of the biblical account. Marsh eschews theological issues and treats Christianity's rise primarily as an intriguing episode in Roman history. What he does he does rather well; whether it needs doing is another question.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1975
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan