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The Lost Religion of Jesus: Simple Living and Nonviolence in Early Christianity Paperback – November 21, 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An accessible and wide-ranging treatment of the issues, biblical and otherwise, that surround the question of Ebionite Christianity and the role vegetarianism may have had in the early church." --Clay Testament

About the Author

Keith Akers is the author of A Vegetarian Sourcebook: The Nutrition, Ecology, and Ethics of a Natural Foods Diet. He has been involved with various vegetarian groups for over a quarter of a century, and currently runs the group Denver Vegans. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife, author Kate Lawrence.
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Product Details

  • Series: Simple Living and Non-Violence in Early Christianity
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Lantern Books; 1 edition (November 21, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930051263
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930051263
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #617,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
What DID Jesus really teach? Most people try to answer that question by referring exclusively to the New Testament. According to Keith Akers, that's where the problem starts. He shows how early Christians divided into factions almost from the beginning with strong doctrinal differences separating them. His book examines those differences under the light of the many writings from the first four centuries (both Christian and non-Christian) that are NOT part of today's New Testament canons. Akers thus attempts to discover what Jesus really lived and died for and finds answers that may be new or even shocking to many. "The Lost Religion of Jesus" is a well-researched, well-written and worthwhile read for anyone with a spiritual or academic interest in Jesus of Nazareth.
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This book shows a more than acceptable level of scholarship from an author outside the field and is a well written easy read. The essential premise is logically, progressively and compellingly advanced if perhaps coming across as something of an oversimplification: I was left with a sense that while wanting to accept the arguments of the book, a comfortable secure western twenty first century perspective might be imposing a lens on actual causes and motivations back in the first.

In drawing attention to a wrong turn taken by the evolving Christian religion away from the actual teachings and nature of Jesus, the author does come across as having his own agenda to push - the avocation of a vegetarian lifestyle. I had a sense of the book being used to justify and advance this from a historical religious perspective, not too surprisingly perhaps given the authors position as displayed by his other work. This feeling appeared to be born out by the authors closing words. I support and endorse his sentiments, but can't help feeling that a little optimistic wishful thinking might have hung over the analysis.

With the rise of right wing religious conservatism and the larger picture of global problems such as climate change, the widening gap between rich and poor etc. I recommend this book for providing easy access to valid alternate perspectives in the secular/religious debate and for raising the suggestion of a historical justification for other paths and personal choices.
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Format: Paperback
Clearly Akers has his personal biases, but I think his effort is mainly refreshing and helpful. Concerning the Bible, Akers emphasizes that Jesus presented himself as a Jewish reformer, who viewed the Bible critically. For Jesus, real faith required discerning a primary message among the Bible's diverse accounts of wars, visions, laws and traditions. He made selective judgements of what to emphasize or ignore, which made him so highly controversial to the Pharisaical legalists or defenders of scriptural inerrancy in his time.

Akers also claims that Jesus was a vegetarian. I was not convinced either that this was true, or that it was important to the early Jewish Chrisitans. But related to this, Akers points out something which does seem important: Jesus opposition to animal sacrifice. And here, Akers emphasizes a side of the Gospel accounts that might shock many later Christians -- that Jesus was almost violently opposed to making his religion a cult of sacrifice for sin. Like John the Baptist he believed in baptism as a rite of repentance and renewal, but not in sacrifice or killing to buy freedom from guilt.

For his well presented arguments on how Jesus took the Bible, and how he viewed the whole notion of sacrifice, I think Akers' book would be stimulating for any Christian study or discussion group.

--author of Correcting Jesus
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book. It was a very refreshing look at Jesus, and early Christianity. The early Christians were quite different from the face of Christianity today. How often it is neglected and forgotten that Jesus spoke strongly for non-violence. Was he really a vegetarian? This is hard to prove or disprove. Maybe he eschewed red meat but not fish. Anyway, the vegetarian aspect of the book was interesting. Overall a very good read.
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Format: Paperback
This is a well-researched, straightforward history about the beliefs and practices of the earliest Jewish Christians. The book is a quick and thought-provoking read, especially when dealing with the origins of the New Testament gospels and the motivations of competing groups and individuals to edit or rewrite the texts. There is, for my taste, an overemphasis on vegetarianism as one of the differences between the Jewish Christian groups and the Gentile Christian church established by Paul and others (The back cover lists a Vegetarian Sourcebook as this author's other credit), but this is not a book that strains to prove Jesus was a vegetarian. The author speculates often, but is careful to point out where the historical record is thin and clearly labels fact from hypothesis. Worth a look if you want to start learning what they didn't teach you in Sunday school.
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Format: Paperback
Keith Akers argues that Jesus didn't want to start a new religion, but rather a reform movement based in simple living and nonviolence. The reader might not be convinced of his thesis that Jesus was a vegetarian, but Akers presents many bold, refreshing theories about the early Church. Written in excellent prose.
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