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Two Thousand Years Ago: The World at the Time of Jesus Hardcover – November, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Frazee expertly imagines Jesus' life and destiny had he been born anywhere but Bethlehem. Every chapter of this oversized coffee table book covers a region of the world during the era of Christ, offering an accessible and entertaining update on the religious and spiritual beliefs of each land. Frazee, a professor of church history at Episcopal Theological School in Claremont, California, muses upon how Jesus would have influenced each region had it been his birthplace. For instance, as a miracle worker Christ may have wowed the Egyptians, since their spirituality was heavily influenced by magical thinking. But in Northern Europe, Frazee claims, Jesus' teachings might have flopped. The Celts, Germans, and other Europeans were so focused on survival and resolving conflicts with violence, that "Jesus' teaching of love, non-violence, and peace would have seemed preposterous to them." In China, Jesus' linear concept of time and his focus on entering God's kingdom would have clashed with the secular views of Confucius and Lao-tzu, who "were intent on instructing men and women on how to find harmony in this lifetime, not in any lifetime to come." Frazee's compelling comparisons also include the Arctic, Pacific Islands, and the Americas-almost always concluding that Jesus' teachings would never have taken hold anywhere other than the Middle East.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (November 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802848052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802848055
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles A. Frazee was born on 4 July 1929 in Rushville, Indiana, son of Charles,Sr. and Frances Geraghty. He received his Ph.D in East European History from Indiana University in 1965 as well as a certificate from the Russian and East European Institute. He has taught at Marian College, Indianapolis, California State University, Fullerton, the US Air Force Academy, and the Episcopal School of Theology, Claremont. His research is focused on the religious history of the Eastern Mediterranean where Christianity and Islam intersect. He is married to Kathleen Siegert and has two daughters, Sarah and Jill. He resides at 726 Paris Way, Placentia CA 92870.

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
We live in a world today that is almost completely interconnected and interdependent. The internet is but the latest piece of this kind of communal global culture; we've had airline travel, fast shipping, corporate and government interlocking in different ways across the globe for some time. It hasn't always been this way, but that is not to say that the world hasn't always had some kind of interconnectedness.

Another thing that is happening culturally, though we often fail to see it, is that history is selectively whittled down to key places, times, events, and people as if they were the only ones in the past, and as if they had a shared significance. The world has always been larger than our view of it, and this book by Charles Frazee shows that. Particularly in the Western world, when we think of the world two thousand years ago, we default to Palestine almost entirely; we are reminded by these writings that there were things going on beyond in the Roman Empire, and are more vaguely aware of other places. Frazee takes the reader even further afield, showing all the different regions of the world, and the peoples who lived in those area.

Frazee demonstrates with ease the interconnections between Roman, Greek and Judaic cultures, and shows their more peripheral but still significant contacts with Parthian, Egyptian and surrounding cultures. Despite the fact that Jesus most likely never travelled more than a hundred miles or so from his place of birth during his youth or ministry, these distant places were brought to him in the the crossroads nature of the ancient Near East.

Frazee looks at the different regions of the world beyond these closely connected places, including subsaharan Africa, China, Korea, Japan, India, the Pacific, and the Americas.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By T. Smith on September 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book a few years ago in because I was interested in what else was going on in the world when the alleged Son of God was also walking around in the small area which comprises the Holy Land. If Jesus' life could be compared to a portrait then this book does a very good job of "completing the picture." Even before the advent of CNN we humans have always been connected in some unseen ways. If Jesus was fully human, which of course he was, then this book helps to give an even broader view of his humanity.

Plus, as a history buff, it's just plain good reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gderf on June 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
More breadth than depth, this is a good short introductory survey of the world at the time of Jesus and after. It asks the question: what if he had been born here? (i.e. elsewhere than in the Middle East). The answer is always either he wouldn't have been noticed or he would have been just one among many. There might be implied a bit of reverse logic saying that Jesus' influence was extended due to his location. This is a good reference listing of world societies, although there are more substantial surveys available. For example, read Susan Wise Bauer's 'The Well Educated Mind.'
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