Excavating the Evidence of Jesus: Book Review

I was very excited to purchase this book, and it did not disappoint! It exceeded my expectations.  I purchased this book because I needed a refresher on archaeological evidence for the Bible; in this case, for Jesus. I was slightly concerned, though, that it would be too technical.  Often, academic writings in this field can be cumbersome and boring. However, this book was very readable. It seemed to be written with a non-academic person who has some knowledge of the Bible and history in mind.  Even better, it included pictures! All of us like pictures, just admit it!

You do not have to be well versed in history or theology to follow this book.  However, if you are not as well versed on the history, you may have to think a little more, just to keep the people straight. This is especially the case when discussing the rulers.  However, the book adequately explains everything.  You may just need extra brain power to keep people straight (after all, how many Herod’s do you need within a 100-year span? Six, there are six Herod’s and they’re all related!). To overcome this, just have a pen and paper to the side and write their full names down. This is not a big enough issue to not get this book, and it may help you better understand what is going on in the New Testament. After all, it's not the author's fault that everyone named their kid Herod.

It was quite enjoyable to read some of the controversies that are around certain Biblical events/locations and have them explained.  For instance, I lived in Israel for a while. Jesus’ tomb is either in/under the Basilica of the Holy Sepulture, or it is the Garden Tomb. I personally preferred the Garden Tomb because it is in a garden, not in a dark church buried under my feet. However, I did not have much knowledge one way or the other as to which was actually true. And believe me, you don’t go asking locals or tour guides. They are FULL of disinformation! Anyway, through reading this book, I discovered that there is very little, if any, hard evidence for the Garden Tomb being the location of Jesus’ burial.  Once I had read the information for/against both sites, it became clear that the most likely place is actually the Basilica. I now wish I had spent more time at the Basilica… and had this book…but I digress.

In addition to being much easier to read than many academic books, and having pictures, it is also organized in a way that makes it easy to fit it into everyday life. Let’s be honest, many of us do not have hours at a time to sit and read.  This book is organized in such a way that you can read about the evidence for Jesus’ burial place in 20-30 minutes (average reader speed). Then you can come back later and read about what we know about the location of Jesus’ ascension into heaven. I love this! Not only does it help us busy people get the book read, but it makes it so much easier to reference back to things when people ask questions (or we are going to teach on the topic).

I am very hopeful that Titus Kennedy will write more books like this one. The focus of this book was on Jesus.  Hopefully in the future, we will have more books like this that cover the evidence for other people or portions of the Bible. So do I recommend this book?