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Book Reviews 

The Lost Religion of Jesus: Simple Living and Nonviolence in Early Christianity

by Keith Akers

Lantern Books


This book is important reading for those who would like a deeper understanding of how early Christianity was influenced by politics and pragmatics to become the religion we see today. By using historical documents, and examining those sects which would seem to be most closely aligned with Jesus, by geography, time and prior beliefs (that is, those "Jewish Christian" groups that lived in the area where Jesus lived that existed shortly after his death), Akers makes a convincing argument for a Jesus that espoused not just a belief system, but a lifestyle of simplicity, nonviolence and vegetarianism. For instance, Akers makes the argument that baptism was instituted as an expiation of sins, in direct contrast to those Jews who practiced animal sacrifice, because of ethical concerns over the treatment of animals. Akers traces a path whereby a religion is scapegoated by its primary audience (the Jewish contemporaries of Jesus) and in order to expand is forced to adapt its message to an empire (the Romans) that relies on bloodshed and violence to maintain itself. In the end, a religion that began by promoting a lifestyle of simplicity and compassion ends up being no more than a belief in the divinity of its founder. This book is recommended reading for anyone who wants to better understand the interaction between Christianity and vegetarianism, and to understand why a religion that prides itself on compassion often seems so averse to expanding that circle of compassion.



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