‘The Final Days of Jesus: The Thrill of Defeat, The Agony of Victory: A Classical Historian Explores Jesus’s Arrest, Trial, and Execution’
By Mark D. Smith
In The Final Days of Jesus, Mark Smith brings his experience as a classical historian to bear on the life of the historical Jesus, piecing together the volatile political context of first-century Judaea, as well as the lives of Pontius Pilate, Annas, and Joseph Caiaphas. The claim that ‘the Jews crucified Jesus’ has spawned a long and tragic history of Christian anti-Semitism. Smith challenges this claim through detailed exploration of Roman, Jewish, and Christian written sources and a broad range of archaeological evidence, such as the ossuary of Caiaphas, the ‘Hidden Gate’, and the rich vein of research devoted to the archaeology of ritual purity. The result is an earthy and nuanced portrait of Jewish life under Roman rule. From his discussion of the multiplicity and brutality of Roman executions to the intricate personal relationships among elites that provided the means of collaboration and redress, Smith details the complex push-pull of forces between Rome and the Temple as they collided in one history-changing week.
Mark D. Smith is Professor of History at The College of Idaho and has long served on the Board of Directors for the Bethsaida Excavations Project in Israel.
The College of Idaho has published an excellent profile of Dr Mark Smith which you can read here.
Endorsements for The Final Days of Jesus
‘This is a rare achievement: a new angle of vision on the trial and death of Jesus: that of a classical historian of Rome with insight as well into Jewish and Christian history and Biblical scholarship. Scholars will appreciate the convincing analysis, and both scholars and lay readers will find the style clear, sensitive, and pleasing.’
Jeffrey Burton Russell, Professor of History, emeritus, University of California, Santa Barbara
‘Mark Smith offers readers a masterful treatment of the death of Jesus and the events that brought it about in his carefully researched and well written book. Smith treats all of the pertinent data and reaches compelling conclusions. Those who wonder what happened to Jesus and why some people wanted to kill him must read Smith’s book. Although not its primary focus, The Final Days of Jesus makes some interesting comments on the theology that is at stake.’
Craig A. Evans, John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins, Houston Baptist University