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In Search of the Birth of Jesus Paperback – November 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade (November 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573225673
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573225670
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,463,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Quick, what do tennis star Andre Agassi and renowned conductor Zubin Mehta have in common? They are both Zoroastrians. What, exactly, does that mean? Well, according to Paul William Roberts, the influential marks of Zoroastrianism are still visible in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, despite the Roman Catholic church's assiduous efforts to erase them over the centuries. In Search of the Birth of Jesus is a book of such stunning complexity and marvelous wit that to call it a travel book is to slight its profundity; to call it an exhaustively researched theological history is to deny the rollicking good read that it is. Roberts re-traces the steps of the Magi according to a tip in Marco Polo's Travels, and the self-styled "good Christian" then commences dismantling every common notion of the Nativity story with an iconoclastic aplomb.

From Library Journal

Roberts (English literature, Oxford) has used a travelog from Persia to Bethlehem as a vehicle to set forth his views on Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. He traces their beliefs to Vedic India via Zoroastrianism and asserts that most elements of these religions have been added by clerics to institutionalize and to consolidate power. In his view, the Zoroastrian Magi were coming to assist one of their own persuasion-Jesus. Unfortunately, Roberts is untrained in the complex subject area he hopes to elucidate and is contemptuous of established scholarship. He picks and chooses among a jumble of anecdotal evidence, folklore, mystical literature, and casual observations and presents tenuous conclusions based on little solid evidence. He quite frankly admits, "I make no apology for presenting a history that fits my own needs." While the travelog part is lively and interesting, its mocking "humor" soon becomes irritating. Not recommended.
Eugene O. Bowser, Univ. of Northern Colorado, Greeley
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

So: fun read, but don't you believe it!
L.D.Bronstein
In fact the author’s entire analysis of the Magi’s stargazing is limited to just 3 pages (out of 369 pages of text).
Hopeless with computers
Funny and educational and thought provoking.
bayou grandma

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joel Brown on December 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Ah, the magi... or wisemen. Characters introduced to us at a wee little age. How many people do you think could actually tell you who they were? This author sets out to find the real truth behind their esoteric mystery. He uses along with the canonized gospels the writings of Marco Polo, who has his own story of the Magi-Zoroastrian priests. I think the book could have done a better job of organizing its research, but since it captivated my interest I am generous in presenting it 4 stars. The author traveled over seas to find the places that Marco had spoken of in the far past, and succeeded. Many of the chapters are autobiographical of his foreign adventures and encounters in his 1st person experiences. His story has the diversity of elements that you might find in a work of fiction. At many times his writing tone is rather sardonic, and at times comedic. I do recall a few phrases he flung out within his writing styles that were rather corny though. His partner, Reza, serves as the comic relief, using more cuss words than clean words. He meets some very interesting characters throughout from a Mandaen priest to Yazeedi Satan-worshippers in places from bookstores to mosques to ancient sites and ruins. Told you it was interesting! Note: Khazzari is a very intriguing personality whom he encounters.. ( ~are not all religions one???~ ) He spends some time touring through ancient religion in Egypt, Israel, and Persia, etc. -- Zoroastrianism, Essene Judaism-Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc. He actually is astray of the subject of the Magi probably a bit too much. As far as truth value, I know there are some things in here FAR less than what can be termed accurate. The one that sticks out like a sore thumb is the Essene Jesus.Read more ›
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kiva Z. Offenholley on February 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
A real treat for people who enjoy odd speculation and info on obscure religions and historical topics. Wonderful talent for mordantly hilarious descriptions of today's Iran. One of the few books I would ever read twice (as I am now doing). Deduct two stars if you dislike foul language (his Iranian guide speaks little else), deduct three stars if you are a Christian who can't stand to have unexamined assumptions challenged, deduct four stars if you are an Islamic fundamentalist. No, five.
Fun and scholarly (but no bibliography! boo hiss!).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this book!! This is one of those (too rare) books that is entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking, all at the same time. While I certainly don't agree with many of the author's opinions, he has done his research well and he raises a lot of good points. And the one issue that he is right on target about is the influence that Zoroastrianism has had on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In this case he isn't simply expressing his own opinion, this is something that most serious scholars would readily acknowledge.
This book leaves one with a lot to think about, and I suspect that most people will want to follow-up with further research. While the author does include most of his references in the book, it is too often done in a haphazard and disorderly fashion. But for the most part the information is there, and fortunately the internet makes it very easy to do additional research at your own pace.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By zrevolution on January 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is about the greatest schism of history and how this schism turned to a chasm and ultimately one side was eliminated. It is about the an ideology that originated in a single historical event and perpetuated by the citizens of two super powers, Byzantines and Persians, thus creating a historical rift that became the cause for wars between two super powers. It is about the dead sea scrolls and how the defeated and destroyed left a word for us to hear and at the end it is only their words that remain. It is history, it is life and it must be known. The evidence is all here. The only unknown: which side would Jesus choose if he were alive today? Roberts believes the scrolls, thus he sees the answer to this question there.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Doug Roberts, Author on December 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
I just finished this book. A friend of mine suggested it because I used to live in Iran where most of the story takes place. Please read the other 3 star reviews as I feel like I did not want to repeat what had already been written.

I found the abundance of foul language a turn off, and I am no prude believe me. When I lived in Iran I learned the Farsi language first from my driver who delighted in sharing all the dirty words he knew. But in this setting it is inappropriate I think. Is this the author's attempt at characterization? These Iranians seem cartoon like instead of real people.

The author goes to great lengths to make the Iranians sound as foreign as possible. "Much" is mudge, "him" is heem. But having lived in Iran and knowing how they talk I found it most curious that the author did not include the best example of how Iranians speak English.

It's how Iranian pronounce words beginning with 's'. They say it as you would say 'established' Stabbed would be estabbed. Not one instance of that. Was the author actually ever in Iran?

The author does seem to have done some homework on Islam and Sufism.

But I believe I have caught the author with his pants down. He interviews at some length an Ayatollah Kazzari, who lives in Qom, Iran. His views are astonishingly progressive for someone living in the city of Qom -- the heart of the heart of Khomeini's revolution. This city is EXTREMELY conservative. Finding anyone, ayatollah or not, to talk in intimate detail their liberal political/religious beliefs is extremely unlikely as it would put them in great danger. No one evokes that much trust.

This 'interview' aroused my suspicions about the Ayatollah.
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