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Editorial Reviews


“A well-written guide to the archaeology behind Jesus’ death and burial, written by one of Jerusalem’s finest archaeologists.” (Jonathan L. Reed, author of the HarperCollins Visual Guide to the New Testament)

“Shimon Gibson, an archaeologist with many years of experience working in Israel, presents an up-to-date and credible description of discoveries relating to Jesus’ last days. Gibson synthesizes evidence from archaeology and the New Testament to craft a clear and enjoyable account.” (Jodi Magness, Professor of Early Judaism, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

“For over 25 years, Gibson, a distinguished archaeologist, has excavated in and near Jerusalem’s walls. The book, directed to a wide audience, is rigorously scientific, and frequently brilliant. It is a must read for all Jews and Christians who are curious about Jesus and his final fateful week in Jerusalem.” (James H. Charlesworth, George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Princeton University)

“An expert archaeologist’s valuable insights on the final days of Jesus.” (Geza Vermes, FBA, University of Oxford, author of JESUS THE JEW and THE PASSION)

“Gibson’s book punctures fourth century mythology with first century evidence drawn from intimate knowledge of the great city of Jerusalem. Gibson’s background in landscape archaeology and his analyses of the physical evidence...combine to provide a provocative series of observations and insights.” (Herb Krosney, author of The Lost Gospel: The Quest for the Gospel of Judas Iscariot)

From the Back Cover

Ever since the gospels were written there have been questions about the momentous events that occurred during the final days of Jesus. Renowned archaeologist Shimon Gibson breaks new ground examining the critical last days of the life of Jesus using his extraordinary access to firsthand archaeological findings as principal evidence. Gibson explains: “The purpose of this book is to unravel once and for all the mystery surrounding the final days of Jesus in Jerusalem: why he went there; how he came to be arrested, tried, and crucified; and where his place of burial was located. There is no doubt that some of my conclusions regarding Jesus and Jerusalem may be controversial.”

Describing the events of the final days of Jesus chronologically, beginning with his entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey and ending with his burial in a tomb after having been crucified, Gibson unveils a vivid picture of first-century Jerusalem; its monuments, streets, and houses; and, of course, the Jewish Temple that was the jewel in the crown of the city. The Jesus that emerges in these pages is a teacher and healer who captures the fascination of the crowds. As a man from an accomplished and well-off rural background, trained in matters of ritual purification by John the Baptist, and as a believer in alternative healing methods, Jesus's speeches and teachings—made in the tinder-box atmosphere of Passover festivities in Jerusalem—scared the Jewish and Roman authorities to such a degree that they decided to have him put to death. Gibson reveals how archaeology has a major role to play not only in how the gospels should be read and understood, but also in understanding Jesus in his world.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 Reprint edition (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006145849X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061458491
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I would recomend this book to anyone Interested In archaeology, the historical Jesus, and the world of the bible.
Petey Wheat
We cannot proof the via Delorosa but it makes more sense than the fairy tale Mr, Gibson has been pushing for several years with absolutely no facts.
The book is easy to read yet it provides the details that the author explains very clearly so one does not have to be a scholar to understand it.
Greg G

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By julier on April 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very clear and concise presentation of Mr. Gibson's view of the historical Jesus. I was able to read this book in two days. It's a fascinating account, and hard to put down. In some ways, it's more of a clarification of historical events, such as, which way Jesus took to Jerusalem, what might have happened when he rode into town on the donkey, and what might have happened during those stories of Jesus raising the dead. There's an excellent section of ancient Jewish burial practices, and also a section on the Shroud of Turin. I commend Mr. Gibson for a thoughtful discussion of the trial of Jesus, and his fascinating presention of a new location for where it may have taken place. In addition, Mr. Gibson gives a detailed first hand account of a discovery in Jerusalem of a crucified man.

But my disappointment with this book is that Mr. Gibson gives a big wind up in a section called "who moved the stone" and then lets the reader down without having the courage to really answer the question, basically saying he'll leave it to believers to decide. And on the question as to the final resting place of Jesus, Mr. Gibson says it's where Christians say it is traditionally without presenting much evidence for his conclusions after the previous sections of his book are filled with lots of details elsewhere. It's almost as if he wants to present new material without going too far as to offend any readers. Nonetheless, for those who are interested in the historical Jesus and first century biblical archaeology, this book is a very interesting addition to the discussion which I highly recommend.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Egon H. E. Lass on July 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you walk along what is presently called the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, Israel, you will find several patches of well-worn stone-slabs. These were excavated and raised up to the present street level from a much deeper elevation, where they had been resting for two-thousand years, so that people could walk over the stones on which Jesus walked on his way to Golgotha. It may very well be that Jesus walked on these stones, but he would not have been carrying his cross; he would simply have been wandering through the streets of Jerusalem long before his trial and crucifixion.

All of this is implied by Shimon Gibson's book, The Final Days of Jesus: The Archaeological Evidence. In the 1970s Gibson was on the staff of the Israeli archaeologist Magen Broshi, excavating a 280-meter stretch outside of the Ottoman city wall between the Citadel next to Jaffa Gate and the southwestern angle of the Old City. He knew that just inside of the wall was the Praetorium, which was Herod's palace where Jesus was put on trial (partially excavated in the Armenian Garden). As happens sometimes, they excavated several related features and did not immediately recognize what they had found. Only years later, when Gibson again turned his attention toward this project, did he see the significance. They had found a courtyard between two fortification walls, and on its northern side a platform of bedrock with steps leading up to it, and south of these a monumental gateway into the city, probably the Gate of the Essenes, as described by the contemporary Jewish historian, Josephus Flavius. The platform is described in John 19:13. "When Pilate therefore heard these words he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called the pavement (lithostrotos), but in Hebrew, gabbatha.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dubious Disciple on January 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If you're interested in the historical Jesus, you'll be fascinated by this book. Shimon is a thorough researcher and archaeologist. He is up-to-date on current scholarship, while at the same time providing new insights and theories, with a writing style that keeps you reading. Shimon excels in vividly portraying the everyday life of Jesus and his times. You'll learn the geography, the rituals, and the lifestyle of first-century Jews as you walk in the shoes of Christ through the final days of his life.

Shimon cautions that "some of my conclusions regarding Jesus and Jerusalem may be controversial," but throughout the book I found all of his arguments to be logical and carefully documented.

I'm one of those fanatics that marks his books up with highlights and margin notes, and this is one of those books where I've got bright paragraphs and blue ink on every other page. I sometimes look over my notes as I prepare to write my reviews, but I simply don't have the time to reread everything this book taught me. I'll just leave it at this: If a book's value can be measured by how much you learn from it, then this one deserves the praise I give it.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By T. Chet Johns on April 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for research I was doing on the historical evidence for the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The author evidently is an archeological historian who had done much work in Israel. Was very complete on the tombs and some on history of crucifixion. Would have liked more evidence on resurrection but overall an interesting book. Author has good writing style that's easy to follow. Assorted photographs included as well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Mariba on March 25, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Shimon Gibson (SG) is a very experienced and knowledgeable Israeli archaelogist on excavations around Jerusalem & beyond. The idea of this book is to fill in the gaps in the history of Jesus' final days in Jerusalem. Then the question is, this archaelogical evidence (AE), what is it based on? SG uses analysis of the Gospels (Mark, Luke, Matthew & John) and other historical Israeli literature to give us AE to support the literature/give more insight on the last days of Jesus. The problem here is the lack of greater details in the literature to support the AE & vice versa and where there are divergent literature views, he takes his preferred view (what can one do?/what if he is wrong?) These may make some of his conclusions controversial & may even be outrightly wrong. I would have liked SG to give more evidence on why he thinks Jesus'tomb is likely to be the one in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (CHS) or give some thorough history how/why/when/who it came to be that the church (CHS) was built in this site. His out of hand dismissal of the Talpiot Tomb (TT) as the tomb of Jesus is very interesting but shallow. He (SG) is the one who did the archaelogical mapping of the Talpiot Tomb for Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in 1980 when the TT was first discovered. He, however is quite successful in painting a probable picture of the landscape of Jerusalem during the last week of Jesus in Jerusalem. He also manages well to fill in the gaps on this difficult & sometimes controversial subject. Some revision of this important book in the future may be very helpful as this AE book paints a valuable landscape picture during the time of Jesus.
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