Alice Hoffman has written a spell binding novel called The Dovekeepers which is built upon the terrible times around 70 CE. The temple has been destroyed, and the people have scattered. Some take refuge in the fortress that King Harold had built and were trying to survive the genocidal advances of the Roman army that wanted to totally destroy any holdouts that might cause them trouble. Narrated by some women and their experience of the life and times we get a glimpse from the female perspective that is lacking in our historical documents. Hoffnam has done her homework and is able to put flesh on the bones of this pivotal time in history. I listened to it on the CD version. It is very well done.
Selina O’Grady has written a fascinating book called And Man Created God. It is a review of the world religions at the time of Jesus. Although Selina comes at the subject as a non believer, she is another voice that adds to the many who try to situate Jesus, Paul and the early church in their context. I came away from this book bewildered by the chaotic milieu of religions that the people of Jesus’ day must have found oppressive. When given the chance to hear about God from Jesus, the disciples and Paul I can easily see why their words were indeed “good news”.
When Jesus Became God by Richard E. Rubenstein In the three hundred-year period after the Resurrection, it must have been terribly difficult to make sense of all the conflicting claims about Jesus in the very early churches. No agreed upon form of the Bible yet existed. Creeds were being hammered out amidst murder and mayhem even among the bishops, and the struggles for safety from hostile neighbors was ever present. Rubenstein’s very approachable book is a wealth of information about this creative and dangerous time. The sub-title says it succinctly: “The Epic Fight over Christ’s Divinity in the Last Days of Rome”. I think you will find this book very interesting.