What did Jesus do?
What did Jesus say?
Who was Jesus?
Salt & Light is the highly acclaimed definitive statement concerning Jesus of Nazareth, history's most compelling figure. The single most important book about the Historical Jesus in the last 30 years, more comprehensive than Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands a Verdict and more powerful than C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.
However, even today, there is still general confusion surrounding Jesus:
Was (Is) Jesus God?
Did Jesus even exist?
Did he rise from the dead?
What are we to make of the miracles?
Is he Peter's Jesus or Paul's Christ? Or both?
Is there evidence for Jesus outside the Bible?
Should we still believe? If so, believe what?
What does ALL the evidence point to?
Salt & Light does not shy away from addressing these and other tough questions. For the first time ever, after years of research using the complete body of early Christian literature and recent modern scholarship, including new and exciting discoveries in many areas such as early manuscripts, science, New Testament studies, archaeology, and history, the real Jesus emerges. Dean offers an eminently readable yet powerful portrait of the authentic Jesus full of astonishing facts for both believers and sceptics alike. So come along for an utterly fascinating journey and meet the historical Jesus, learn about his mission, and discover his teaching!
Compelling • Authentic • Complete
Salt and Light: The Complete Jesus Jonathan Dean (Reviewed: February, 2022) In Salt and Light: The Complete Jesus, Jonathan Dean offers a personal, reflective, and expansive look at the life and teachings of Jesus. His goal is to deliver an “authentic” portrait of the first-century preacher who changed the course of human history. “Jesus started the world’s largest movement,” Dean writes, “and to billions of people now and in the past, somehow he has served in some form or other as a model for our humanity.” Who exactly was Jesus, what did he say, and what did he do? Dean does a deep dive into the historical record to answer these questions, utilizing the “critical method” to apply “a nonsectarian, reason-based approach” to not only the Bible and first-century sources but to over 100 years of research on the historical Jesus. As Dean notes, recent scholarship suggests Jesus never actually existed. Truth be told, there’s no physical or even direct historical evidence that he did. But Dean looks at secondary sources from such early writers as Tacitus and Josephus and offers his personal take on why early pagan, Christian, and Jewish writers provide enough proof to suggest that Jesus was a living person. Dean then proceeds to examine Jesus’s teachings by exploring the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, while touching on the writings of Paul and second-century Christians such as Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp. Throughout it all, the question of messiahship arises. Was Jesus the Messiah? The author offers an interesting answer. Dean’s simple, conversational writing style makes for easy reading—no small task when dealing with dozens of competing historians and theologians. His summaries are succinct, and his arguments are presented in a linear fashion as he connects his ideas and hypotheses in a logical manner. While there’s little new in this book, Dean’s labor of love—the product of more than ten years of research—offers an unintimidating and multifaceted introduction to Jesus that makes you feel smarter after you’ve read it
SALT & LIGHT
THE COMPLETE JESUS
Jonathan Geoffrey Dean
FriesenPress (Mar 31, 2022)
Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5
Sifting through a variety of historical and religious source material, the inquisitive book Salt & Light seeks to understand Jesus beyond how he is presented in traditional contexts.
Jonathan Geoffrey Dean’s investigative book Salt & Light seeks to uncover the fullest possible reality of who Jesus was.
The book’s investigation into the historical reality and truth of Jesus centers on three beguiling questions–of what Jesus did and said, and of who he was. Each of these questions is troubled throughout. And while the book includes only glimpses of the ultimate answers to these three questions, they are credible in that they derive from trusted sources and various theological opinions about Jesus’s significance and purpose. This work represents both caution and confidence: it elects to “trust the information we are given until we have a good reason not to.”
The chapters are thematic; they concentrate on reconstructing crucial narratives from Jesus’s life with care. A variety of religious and historical lenses are applied, though belief is held off as a filter; instead, the book preferences an “open mind and common sense” as its ultimate rubric. There’s skepticism involved, but also a sense of being captivated by the undeniable influence of Jesus, and of Jesus’s followers, over the centuries.
Source texts are ably introduced with declarations about what makes them individually useful. Though the gospel narratives are centered, other Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religious and historical texts are included, too, as are side-by-side comparisons of similar accounts. Assumptions about Jesus’s status as a deity are evaded; the book is unwavering in its allegiance to rational rather than spiritual thought, and to investigations and data rather than to belief.
Though there are instances of interpersonal language in the book, it more often maintains an academic distance from its audience; there are clear efforts throughout to separate the book’s contents and conclusions from the realm of personal opinions and interpretations. Its sense of searching is a constant, but so is its sense that discovering the full truth may be difficult. Still, the curiosity that the book evinces about the “compelling and allusive” Jesus is appealing. Photographs, maps, and diagrams are included as a source of additional insight and clarity; the diagram of the percentage of similar content between the Christian synoptic gospels is particularly intriguing.
Sifting through a variety of historical and religious source material, the inquisitive book Salt & Light represents an ongoing search for the historical Jesus, seeking to understand him beyond how he is presented in strictly traditional contexts.
Reviewed by Melissa Wuske
January 19, 2022
comprehensive survey centers on the historical Jesus of Nazareth.
A career businessman and founder of Canada’s conservative Atlantica Party, Dean explains that his examination of Jesus is targeted to “the person on the street who has never had exposure to Jesus in any form.” Based on an impressive 10-year exploration of the classical primary sources and contemporary academic literature on Jesus, this book effectively blends relevant scholarship with an approachable yet nuanced narrative that succeeds in its mission to provide analysis that is “straightforward and easy to grasp.” Part 1 in a two-volume series, this work looks at “the Complete Jesus” by focusing primarily on the historical records pertaining to him rather than the subsequent theological interpretations of his life. Revolving around three driving questions (What did Jesus do? What did he say? Who was he?), the book probes variations in Gospel narratives and early Christian writings as well as Jewish, Roman, and Muslim accounts of Jesus’ life. Like most academic surveys of the historical Jesus, the book concludes that “the figure of Jesus is shadowy and ill-defined” in the records. Ultimately, the volume argues, Jesus should not be considered a rabbi, as his teachings were “distinct from Judaism.” Moreover, despite the author’s personal belief in the veracity of Jesus’ miraculous deeds, Dean notes that the man was not divine, made “mistakes,” and often “created confusion by not definitively identifying himself.”While not systematically engaging with theology, the work similarly rejects the Christian doctrines of the Trinity, hell, and Jesus’ second coming in its embrace of the simplicity of his teachings to love all, share one’s light, and not to overly desire possessions. Accompanied by classical and Renaissance art, images of primary source documents, charts, and other visual aids, this volume is remarkably accessible given its sophisticated use of the esoteric and academic works that fill its impressive footnotes and bibliography. Still, some may disagree with the author’s assertion that the Christian Bible is “the most influential work” of Western civilization, a claim that ignores the sacred book’s Middle Eastern, African, and Asian influences.
A well-researched, open-minded introduction to the historical Jesus.
Reviewed by Dr. Jordan Alexander for Readers' Favorite Salt & Light: The Complete Jesus by Jonathan Geoffrey Dean was a fascinating read that made me fully appreciate the importance of getting the story right. This story is particularly important for billions of people around the world as it focuses upon a most significant figure in history: Jesus of Nazareth. Academics and researchers will appreciate the care and detail Dean takes in Salt & Light. The first half of the book relates entirely to a comprehensive survey of available ancient sources. With the precision of a surgeon, Dean checks, tests, and verifies references to arrive at his shortlist of primary eyewitness accounts to serve as his starting point to explore the life of Jesus. Jonathan Geoffrey Dean remains the balanced storyteller throughout Salt & Light as he tackles tough methodological questions like when were the Gospels written and by whom, challenging perspectives without first-person validation. He supplies facts from disciples Peter and John only where testimony supports wondrous and unexplained miracle stories. Yet Dean also reports where a “fantastical turn of mind” embellishes the story, like John’s four chapter-long account of the teachings of Jesus at the Last Supper (John 14-17). Dean provides new insights in Salt & Light. Referring to wondrous birth stories that create a mystical persona for the likes of Alexander the Great, Plato, and Buddha, to name a few, Dean examines the Jesus birth story we celebrate each Christmas. The need for all roads to lead to Bethlehem is essential as Scripture certifies the one born here will be ruler over Israel. Dean explores how accounts from Matthew and Luke, for example, vary - the former starts Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, then fleeing to Nazareth, while the latter starts the couple in Nazareth, setting off to Bethlehem for a census. Only once comfortable his research has gotten “as close as we can to the real Jesus”, does Dean proceed with the story. The second part of Salt & Light answers three simple, yet important questions: Who was Jesus? What did he do? What did he say? Dean answers these questions relying on the most accurate accounts to tell the whole story of Jesus of Nazareth from his early life, family, the last supper, his capture, ultimate death, and resurrection. Salt & Light highlights important dates, places, itinerary, travels, how Jesus chose his disciples, and in the end, shares Dean's personal view of who Jesus was. I appreciated Dean’s neutrality at the beginning and his commitment to taking a position in the end. Will you believe Jesus was a regular human, chosen by God to perform miracles and be His spokesperson to teach humanity; or that Jesus was a regular human who believed he was picked and conspired with his followers to perform phony miracles? Either way, believers and skeptics will appreciate Dean’s summary of what Jesus said including to act on the choice we all have to be free, to share our light, to love all, to keep learning, become stronger in our freedom and individuality, and to always try our best. Reading Salt & Light by Jonathan Geoffrey Dean will help readers better appreciate the story of Jesus, identify essential sources for future study, and aid personal choice by understanding who Jesus was. A great educational read.
Reviewed by Philip Van Heusen for Readers' Favorite Salt & Light is a scholarly work by Jonathan Geoffrey Dean. In this fascinating book, Jonathan attempts to come to a conclusion of who Jesus was. Jonathan also desires to discover what Jesus did. To achieve his purpose, Jonathan had several requirements for what ancient writings he used. These rules are the typical requirements found in Higher Criticism. The goal is to strip away all the myths and legends to reveal what Jesus really said and did. I found it interesting that, in one broad stroke, Jonathan dismissed the Gospel of Luke. As is typical of Higher Criticism, facts are given, then motives are attributed. Jonathan strives to provide a fair hearing for the Word of God. He uses his tools to reach his conclusions concerning what Jesus did, said, and who He was. This book makes the reader stop and think. Jonathan Geoffrey Dean authored Salt & Light to examine three questions: 1) What did Jesus do? 2) What did Jesus say? and 3) Who was Jesus? Through a detailed examination of early writings, Jonathan comes to his own conclusions about the answers to these three questions. If you are a lay believer in the Word of God and do not like to have your faith challenged, then this is not the book for you. However, if you are strong in the faith and desire to learn more about the history of belief, read this book. Jonathan does a tremendous scholarly job. You may disagree with Jonathan’s dismissal of much of the Bible, but you will gain some knowledge. I do not want to give away Jonathan’s conclusions, but I recommend you read this book and come to your own conclusions.
Reviewed by Leonard William Smuts for Readers' Favorite The life and times of Jesus of Nazareth have inspired millions for almost two thousand years, but there are many anomalies and contradictions contained in the written teachings - in particular the English translations of the New Testament - which form the basis of modern Christianity. Salt & Light sets out to examine the evidence, weighing it against other sources, before applying logic and common sense to provide a wider and alternative view of events. Salt & Light reviews the available literature to build a more comprehensive picture of Jesus, His disciples, followers, and the people of the time. Jonathan Dean establishes objective criteria to conduct his evaluation, restricting it to credible sources such as eyewitness accounts. This effectively limits the scope of his inquiry to the first century CE and eliminates much documentation. The origin of the Gospels, along with the actual identity of the authors, has challenged theologians for centuries, with conflicting opinions emerging. This topic is revisited with some interesting conclusions drawn. Dean is able to establish a credible chronology for the writing of the Gospels, which he places some years earlier than many academics. He supports his conclusions with persuasive arguments, before presenting a summary of his findings. Readers should be clear from the outset that Salt & Light is neither a conspiracy theory nor an attempt to tarnish the reputation of an iconic religious figure. Jonathan Dean reminds us that the Bible was originally written in several languages and that the translations into English from Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, or Latin have not always been entirely accurate. Some texts have become the subject of interpretation and speculation, while there are also gaps in the narrative. It should be remembered that few people were literate in biblical times. Of necessity, the Gospels would probably have been dictated to scribes from memory and anecdotal evidence some years after the events. The book is well illustrated with informative pictures, maps, and diagrams. I particularly liked the figure which showed the close relationship between the three Synoptic Gospels. The timelines provided are equally interesting and include a probable date for the crucifixion! The book has been extensively researched and the list of references is impressive. Dean has provided much food for thought with this publication, which may not be universally acclaimed by fundamentalists. It was written for a much wider audience and is the first of a two-part series. It has succeeded admirably in shedding light on a controversial topic and should be read with an open mind. Christianity is about faith and it is up to readers to draw their own conclusions. A fascinating and courageous look at a topic that has interested me for many years. It is very thought-provoking.
Must read 🏆
Meticulous research that brings to life distant, dusty lands and oppressed people who sought redemption in an outspoken and enigmatic man.
Salt & Light is the definitive statement concerning Jesus of Nazareth, history's most compelling figure.
Jesus was a poor man who taught for a few years in a backwater of the Roman Empire and then was killed for sedition 2,000 years ago. However, Jesus started the world's largest movement, and to billions of people now and in the past, somehow, he has served in some form or other as a model for our humanity.
For the first time, after years of research using the complete body of early Christian literature and recent modern scholarship, including new and exciting discoveries in many areas such as early manuscripts, science, New Testament studies, archaeology, and history, the real Jesus emerges. Dean offers an eminently readable yet powerful description of the authentic Jesus full of fascinating facts for both believers and sceptics alike.
Did Jesus even exist?
Did he rise from the dead?
Is he Peter's Jesus or Paul's Christ?
What does ALL the evidence point to?
Salt & Light doesn't shy away from addressing these and other tough questions.
So come along for a fascinating journey and meet the historical Jesus, learn about his mission, and discover his teaching!
Salt & Light; The Complete Jesus is a book that will draw readers into its fold. There is no sitting on the fence with Jonathan Geoffrey Dean’s exemplary research and contemplation. This is a book for both fans and critics as a handy reference in Christian history.
With the look of an encyclopedia, this book has painstakingly gathered images, footnotes, and references. These elements make for engaging reading in between the text. The actual book content is no less enticing. It attempts to sketch a realistic profile of Jesus, the man, using historical and religious texts, particularly the Gospels, and Greek documents, like the Q. The author’s goal is to separate reality from myth using a practical research method.
The book has two distinct sections. Jonathan Dean spends the first half of the book explaining his technique for gathering and eliminating sources. He sieves through the parallelism in the four Gospels and draws up evocative sketches of the four disciples. He brings out stories and delves into the history, timelines, and places in the research material. The stories may repeat, but each time there is a deeper analysis and conclusion.
There are interesting facts. Peter is the only disciple to recount the baptism of Jesus, or that the Gospel of Mark reads like a dictated oral history. He provides insights into the hidden message in the Book of Revelation, as an allegory for the Roman rulers. In the second half of the book, Dean puts together the pieces of the puzzle. He answers the three questions that form the baseline of this book: what did Jesus say and do, and who he was?
You can devour this book in one go for the amazing details. The ultimate pleasure of this work lies in slowly wading through the reams of information and building your view of Jesus and his times. This book is for keepsakes; even for the skeptics, it offers food for contemplation and is a source of historical information.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was not once overwhelmed by the content because it all flows smoothly, in the simplest possible narration. It brings to life the distant, dusty lands where simple people lived under oppression and sought in an outspoken and enigmatic man, the promise of redemption.
Salt and Light
In Salt and Light: The Complete Jesus (FriesenPress), Jonathan Geoffrey Dean gives readers his intimate and expansive inquiry into the life and teachings of Jesus.
“Salt and Light is the product of more than 10 years of reading and thinking on my part,” writes the Nova Scotian author, researcher, and partner in an investment advisory firm.
Having written the book for people like himself, who want to learn about the authentic Jesus, his book is intended for both those who believe and those who are skeptical. “I assume no prior knowledge of the sources about Jesus and no special training, just an open mind and common sense,” he writes.
While delving into the questions: Who was Jesus? What did Jesus say and do? Dean also tackles what he calls “the minority scholarly view” that Jesus never existed, that he is a myth.
Dean exhaustively researched his subject. He turned not only to the Bible, which he has read in its entirety several times but to scholars and decades of research on the historical Jesus.
“He was a poor man who taught for a few years in a backwater of the Roman Empire and was then killed for sedition 2,000 years ago,” writes Dean. “However, Jesus started the world’s largest movement, and to billions of people now and in the past, somehow he has served in some form or other as a model for our humanity. He is compelling and allusive, so, indeed, time spent studying Jesus is time well spent.”
Title: Salt and Light: The Complete Jesus Author: Jonathan Geoffrey Dean Genre: Religious Studies / History of Christianity / Western Civilization Salt and Light: The Complete Jesus by Jonathan Geoffrey Dean is an ambitious and comprehensive look at what can be known about the historical person now known as Jesus of Nazareth. Through an exhaustive analysis of hundreds of sources, the author seeks to form an outline of Jesus’s life and teachings. Who was the real Jesus? And what did he teach? One of the major stumbling blocks in any historical reconstruction of Jesus are the contradictions found within the New Testament, contemporaneous writings, subsequent religious tradition and historical literature. Given this, much of Salt and Light is spent trying to determine which of the sources are reliable from a historical, rather than religious, perspective. Dean has a knack for approaching this systematically and with simple concepts, which he applies to each and every available source. By doing so, he identifies a small number of documents that he believes offer the most dependable information. This analysis of a vast body of work is one of the greatest feats of Salt and Light, and is what makes the conclusions reached all the more convincing. Moreover, Dean does a commendable job presenting multiple sides to a given argument. Even the most discerning readers may not be able to guess which side the author favors until his conclusions are revealed. The immense amount of time, effort, and critical thinking needed to create this work and reach these conclusions is undeniable, impressive, and evidenced by the pages and pages of appendices at the back of the book. A second volume of additional insights is apparently to be expected as well. Though written for both secular and religious audiences, previous knowledge of the New Testament would be very helpful for the reader, as is Dean’s suggestion to have a copy of the New Testament nearby for quick reference. Readers who find discussions of Jesus a sensitive topic, or those with differing beliefs, may find Dean overstates himself at times. He refers to the volume as the “definitive and complete inquiry into the authentic Jesus,” instead of couching it in softer language such as “intended to be,” and in so doing may put off readers who reach differing conclusions. Nevertheless, Salt and Light would be an excellent fit for readers interested in this pivotal time period in Western civilization, in Jesus as a historical figure, and in the complex origins of Christianity. The book is friendly to the lay reader and those with little background on the subject, as long as they are prepared for the amount of detail and number of sources cited. In all, Salt and Light is a rich resource in its own right. It offers an independent, reasoned, and well-explained take on a complex and controversial subject. All evidence is approached systematically and consistently, with arguments that flow easily to convincing conclusions. Salt and Light is therefore recommended reading for anyone interested in the pivotal person who was Jesus, who he actually was, and what he actually taught