At times, a novel can be found that is as informative as nonfiction, or a biography that is as exciting as an adventure tale. Colin Duriez’s AD 33: The Year that Changed the World is both. Part history, part biography, and part well-crafted story, it offers a summary of Christianity’s beginning years that can both teach and entertain.
Though Duriez has a distinctive Christian perspective, the pagan and Jewish events of the era take up fully two-thirds of the book. The opening segment is of Rome, with its sometimes violent politics and strong rivalries. Rome is the setting for the events of that momentous year. The shift from Rome to the Jewish element in it and to Jerusalem is natural, as is the shift from Jerusalem to the Jewish carpenter who would be crucified there. The shifting continues throughout the book, so that the various elements stay contemporary in the reader’s mind. From the beginning of the story in AD 32 to the end years later, it is interesting and thought-provoking. The explanation of chronology in the final pages is very helpful as a resource for those less familiar with ancient times. Duriez uses a vast store of knowledge from Scripture, Jewish histories, and Roman histories to weave the picture of Jesus’ last year on earth.
The amount of research and knowledge contributing to AD 33 is impressive. Duriez draws regularly and openly from the Gospels, from Jewish historian Josephus, and from Roman sources such as Seutonius. Every assertion made has sources from which it was gathered; yet the ease with which he presents them suggests good familiarity with the subject matter and skill with language. The sections of narrative interspersed throughout the text are especially interesting.
Admittedly, this is not a light book for any but the most serious of historians. It is, however, full of facts and details, and is written in a compelling way. Christians should know the importance of Jesus’ place in history, and those skeptical of Christianity can learn in AD 33 just how much history there is with Jesus in it. – Linette E. Yoder, Christian Book Previews.com
How did Jesus shape history? In A.D. 33 an obscure religious teacher died a criminal's death in a distant outpost of the Roman Empire. Yet this was an event with world-changing consequences. What was the world like in that momentous year? Colin Duriez's compelling book brings to life events in the Roman Empire and beyond.
As we look back on that remarkable year, we can see from the perspective of world history that it was dominated by two people--a Roman and a Jew. The Roman was the Emperor Tiberius who was trying to end the mischief caused by his deputy Sejanus, while also keeping a tight reign on the administration of his vast and diverse empire.
The Jew was Jesus who was put to death by one of Tiberius's minor governors, Pontius Pilate. Belief in his resurrection from the dead three days later invigorated his demoralized followers, leading within a few weeks to the birth of the Christian movement, which was ultimately to take over the mighty empire without force and to change the world irrevocably. While momentous events unfolded in the lives of these two leaders, one temporal and one spiritual, millions of people carried on their daily routines, rising at dawn and going to their rest in the evening.
What is the history that lies behind the Gospel texts? Supplemented by maps, charts and timelines, this richly detailed book reveals what the world that saw the inauguration of Christianity was like. In this breathtaking book we follow the events in the Roman Empire and beyond to obtain a vivid picture of the year of Jesus' death.