The Lost Religion of Jesus — Author: Keith Akers
Keith Akers established himself as a serious author when he wrote A
Vegetarian Sourcebook: The Nutrition, Ecology, and Ethics of a Natural Foods
Diet. His second book is as informative and persuasive as his first, yet in
a very different field. The Lost Religion of Jesus (subtitled Simple
Living and Nonviolence in Early Christianity), presents a view of the world of
Jesus and his teachings that is greatly different from what is taught as modern
Christianity — and is convincingly more accurate.
If you have ever questioned the consistency of modern Christian teachings
(regardless of your personal beliefs), this will be a fascinating book for you
to read. If you've wondered how Jesus could teach a "turn the other
cheek" philosophy, yet millions have been slaughtered throughout history
based upon the supposed "rightness" of Christianity, this is a book
that you will want to read. If you are either a serious or armchair historian,
you need to read this book.
Akers begins by exploring who the Jewish Christians were — not the modern
day Jews who have converted to modern day Christianity, but the Jews who
actually knew and followed Jesus and his teachings at the time that Jesus was
alive. His research covers many writings on Jesus and the customs and culture of
both the time and place where he lived and taught. Through this, we learn that
what truly distinguished Jesus and his followers from other Jews at that time
were his teachings of simple living and nonviolence — not, as is generally
taught, a new theology. Akers explores modern assumptions about both Judaism and
Christianity in his examination of this subject.
Of particular interest to those committed to nonviolence in all forms is
Akers' exploration into Jesus' teachings around nonviolence toward all beings.
He delves into the meaning of "sacrifice", from the perspectives of
religion, politics, and local custom. He explores the famous stories of Jesus
and sheds new light on these often told stories. For example, we view the story
of Jesus overturning the moneychangers' tables in the temple in a very different
light — Jesus was primarily driving out "those who sold and bought".
What was "sold and bought" in the temple? Animals — for
"sacrifice," and for supporting the meat eating habits of the temple
priests. Akers reminds us that the temple in Jesus' time was not what we think
of when we hear the word "temple", but in fact was a crude
slaughterhouse — a ghastly, but truthful, image.
This is not a book for those looking for a "light" read. It is
thought provoking and the ideas presented require serious consideration. It
expands the reader's view of both historical and modern Judaism and Christianity
— and reminds us all of the importance of history recorded accurately.
After reading this book, one cannot help but draw the conclusion that if
those proclaiming to be followers of Jesus today were truly following his
teachings, modern Christianity would look very different. Christians would live
very simply, and would be pacifists in all aspects - including recognizing and
honoring that all life is from the same source, and is therefore to be
cherished. For the animals, it finally would be peace on earth.
Justina L. Walls
(Vegetarian Living, May / June 2001)