What did Jesus do?
What did Jesus say?
Who was Jesus?
Salt & Light; The Complete Jesus is the highly acclaimed and award-winning 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
An extraordinary deep dive into the life of an extraordinary man, Jonathan Geoffrey Dean’s Salt & Light; The Complete Jesus presents a masterful guide for inquiring minds to the definitive life and ministry of Jesus. The first edition to his two-book series, this book offers an intelligently posed wealth of knowledge, garnered from many years of research and fueled by the layman author’s ignited curiosity.
As a whole, the book was written in search of the entire true scope of Jesus’ life and works, particularly as an earnest way of seeking to answer three simple questions, 1. Who was Jesus? 2. What did he do? 3. What did he say? However, instead of focusing on the religious elements, author Jonathan Geoffrey Dean leaves his faith out of his search, choosing to focus primarily on the academic aspects, which works out very well throughout the book.
Albeit while there is no simple answer to discovering the complete life of Jesus, however, the level of work ethic, thorough research, comparative analysis, and discernment employed by author Dean raises the bar for other books of this nature to meet.
Moreover, as thorough, as it is well-written, this work provides a masterful reading venture that is part historical dissertation, populated with literate reaches into obscured aspects of biblical texts, such as the Gospels, and Acts, which contain elements of the true history of Jesus.
Moreover, the information contained in this book is catalytic in the way that it does well to offer definitive, perception-altering data when it comes to the life of Jesus, often bruising long-standing myths and alternate religious-based concepts previously known, concerning the life of Jesus. Meanwhile also included are instances of contact with those around him used to establish a credible timeline of his life and ministry.
Altogether, author Jonathan Geoffrey Dean did well in answering his proposed questions via sorting through the broad spectrum of information providing sources on the life of Jesus. In part 1 of the book, he delves into the explanation of how myth can become reality and shares the intriguing example of the life of Betty Crocker to prove his point. Additionally, he shares his methodology of reviewing available source materials while meticulously narrowing down the material to a concisely viable list and was able to establish a credible timeline of the true life of Jesus. He examines what made a source useful, including parameters that proved useful in narrowing the scope of truth. Then in part 2 he delves into answering his aforementioned questions by also studying other resources of information including scriptures from Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Pagan perspectives.
Altogether, I enjoyed reading Jonathan Geoffrey Dean’s, Salt & Light; The Complete Jesus and believe this would make a fantastic documentary. This was an absolutely phenomenal read that piqued my curiosity and excited my mind. This was a work that was easy to relate to because it came from a well-versed layman’s perspective and not from the religious perspective bogged down by dogma. I enjoyed the thoroughness of his methodology and look forward to reading the second book in this series. This is a must read for seekers of the true Jesus.
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
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.
Dean, a New Testament scholar, researcher, author, and political leader, takes readers on an utterly fascinating journey to meet the historical Jesus. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on the classical primary sources, others more modern, including the contemporary academic literature, new and exciting discoveries in areas of early manuscripts, science, New Testament studies, archaeology, and history—all with the intent to introduces readers to the authentic portrait of Jesus. Dean delves deeper into Jesus’s early life, covering his family, the last supper, his capture, ultimate death, and rebirth while exploring the simple yet significant questions of who Jesus was, what he did and what he taught. He argues that though the figure of Jesus remains obscure in the records, he was most certainly a living person. Dean doesn’t consider Jesus a divine person as there are examples of him making factual as well as theological mistakes. Recognizing Jesus as a teacher, Dean summarizes his teachings, such as to love all, to show compassion for all and help them, to share our light, and be sincere and not to be a hypocrite among others. Complete with footnotes and bibliography, Dean’s prose is accessible, empowering, and narrative sporadically meandering yet thoroughly engrossing. The accompanied classical and Renaissance art, photographs, maps, charts, and other visual aids add to the authenticity of the text. Not everyone will agree with Dean’s assertions, but the book offers a lively, concise, open-minded introduction to the historical Jesus of Nazareth.
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.
There have been numerous competing perspectives regarding Jesus, whether he is a “heavenly Messiah,” “a magician,” “a demon-possessed man,” or a mere person, due to differing concepts or irreconcilable viewpoints. So with the authenticity of Jesus, his being, doing, and teaching, always being a source of skepticism, and the many conflicting and derailing speculations on Jesus’ identity. The author Jonathan Geoffrey Dean presents his ambitious research on the historical reality of Jesus in Salt and Light: The Complete Jesus. In his analysis of the ‘authenticity’ of Jesus, the author provides a comprehensive and reflective analysis from three perspectives – what did Jesus do, what did Jesus say, and who was Jesus?
Divided into thirty-one succinct and to-the-point chapters, the reader gets a full view of the entire research process, the author’s thoughtful choices of various methodologies, and his meticulous preparation of a ‘Source List.’ Until chapter number twenty-three, the emphasis is on constructing and compiling a reasonable and plausible list of sources. Then, despite a limited pool of references, it strives to weed out invalid and non-credible sources of information and “come with sources as “close” to Jesus as possible.” This is accomplished by applying certain principles to various religious and pagan sources and gospels, such as dating, credible facts, repetition, and custody rules.
Part two focuses on the book’s goal: answering the three questions about Jesus. Beginning with the origins and early life of Jesus of Nazareth and his familial and educational background, the various itineraries of activities surrounding his life are dated from his birth to his death, burial, and after-effects. The following chapters focus on establishing Jesus’ sayings and teachings and his persona, again in the most authentic form, filtering out the information and sources based on the rules mentioned previously.
There is no questioning the author’s precision and meticulousness in his approach to doing the research study. Not being intolerant and openly dismissing the opposing hypothesis on Jesus’ identity, he ingeniously evaluates and validates sources before keeping them for future investigation or dismissing them. In addition, the traditional and archaic pictures of art items and information charts captivate the reader just as much as the highly authentic and appealing information.
Salt and Light: The Complete Jesus presents the image of Jesus as a man who spread and affirmed the message of choice to humanity and of love of God and was equally prone to making mistakes. Additionally, it provides other viewpoints that may not be acceptable to everyone based on their beliefs. As a result, reading the book necessitates a broad mindset and a readiness to examine things in light of contextual information.
Salt & Light: The Complete Jesus is an illuminating scholarly work on the authentic Jesus and his teachings. Dean lays out three important questions in the beginning of his book about Jesus, his existence, his teachings and what he offered to humanity; all delivered through a critical lens. Dean sets out on a daunting journey of finding the ‘authentic’ Jesus without any bias and only sticking to available evidence.
The beginning of this informative book contains information on different sources the author used and then the book dives into the Gospels, Jesus’ disciples and other topics, to make his case.
Each chapter has an intriguing question at the beginning, which is then followed by compelling arguments. Readers are not made to take sides on those arguments, but are allowed to critically think and decide for themselves.
The simple use of language throughout this book ensures that the information being conveyed is easily understood by anyone, and I think the text is much more powerful because of it. Photographs and other pieces of historical evidence are provided in this book which breaks up the long pieces of text. They are great visual additions that make this book much more engaging.
While I am spiritual, I certainly don’t have the level of knowledge of Christianity that the author does, and I had a bit of trepidation going into this book because of that. But the author provides readers with all the necessary information they need in order to understand the book. I feel like I walked away from this book with a lot more information on the subject, which will allow me to confidently partake in a discourse on this topic with other people.
I was mesmerized by the cover of this book because I felt like you are playing a word puzzle and finding Jesus in the scramble; which I think is a metaphor for this book, or maybe life too. While I think the book contained easy to understand language and the chapters fully covered a topic before moving on, I feel like this book is not something you finish in one sitting. There is a lot of thought-provoking information in this book that takes time to absorb. Going through the book, there were several ‘aha’ moments for me about Jesus and his teachings.
Salt & Light: The Complete Jesus by Jonathan Geoffrey Dean takes on a controversial topic in a way that is comprehensive and impartial. This is an enlightening book that provides the reader with the critical information they need to unravel the mystery of Jesus.
Salt & Light: The Complete Jesus is recommended for readers who seek to understand the "authentic Jesus." While it holds many academic references that scholarly students of the Bible will find satisfyingly authoritative, it also presumes that its readers have little in-depth technical foundations in either scholarly Bible studies or academia, making it accessible to an especially broad audience.
This and the tone of this historical and religious review makes Salt & Light accessible to a wider audience than most Christian research pieces, melding disparate research from academia (complete with footnoted references and bibliography) with an engaging focus and tone that lends to easy understanding.
The survey begins with a consideration of the existence of Jesus, which has been debated in different circles: "The idea that Jesus is merely a myth certainly stands as a minority position in the academic arena; however, I do think I should examine it first, since if Jesus did not exist, there is nothing to investigate. Perhaps I can save myself (and you) a lot of work by making this project pointless. And it is always a good thing to challenge the majority view!"
Jonathan Geoffrey Dean presents an unusual comparison between Jesus and Betty Crocker to draw connections between figures that seem real but are myth, or, conversely, which seem like myths, but were actually real: "Betty Crocker is a myth, yet many people, Carrier argues, believe she is just as real as Jesus. Other widely circulating myths include the 1947 Roswell UFO crash, the notion that Sherlock Holmes was a real detective, the idea that the US government destroyed the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, the cargo cults on Pacific islands, and the Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith's story of the golden plates. These all illustrate how quickly people can come to believe unexpected things, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Carrier does an excellent job presenting evidence to show how unsurprising it would be if Jesus were only a myth."
His discussions strive for reasoned analysis and accuracy as he delves into the heart of controversies surrounding Jesus, employing impeccable logic, footnoted historical references, and arguments to validate his considerations of what Jesus did, said, and who he was.
Those who expect a dry analytical approach will be delighted to find there are many linked references between present-day circumstance and culture and the Jesus of yesteryear, all presented in lively discourses that encourage easy reading and understanding, yet remain true to scholarly techniques.
It's rare to see a discourse that will satisfy both audiences with a lively tone and well-researched documentation, but
Salt & Light succeeds in doing so with an easy candor that melds supporting evidence with popular arguments, conclusions, and insights about Jesus.
Not only are Biblical and outside references consulted and revealed, but Dean is astute in explaining his methodology's underlying foundations: "I have shown that Peter-Mark, John, and Q are, by far, the richest and earliest sources for facts about Jesus. Luke and Matthew are early sources as well, although unreliable. It is now profitable to apply the Repetition Rule to see if the information in any potential source, or a source already in my Source List, is simply a repetition of information we already have in earlier sources. If so, the source is redundant and can be discarded. For instance, if a source's only fact about Jesus is that he was crucified, and Peter-Mark, being an earlier source, states that he was also crucified, then according to the Repetition Rule, the source is redundant and can be excluded from my Source List."
Controversial inspections also offer much food for discussion groups, as Dean points out discrepancies and issues with traditional analytical approaches: "In any case, Jesus did not follow Judaism himself. We have no explicit mention of him following Jewish customs. He did not abide by the Jewish purity laws when he ate with sinners (Mark 2:14 - 17), he entered tombs and touched corpses (Peter-Mark 10:34b), he did not fast (Mark 2:18), and he famously and repeatedly disregarded the Sabbath."
While Salt & Light: The Complete Jesus will undoubtedly be chosen for Christian collections, it would be a shame to limit its appeal to this audience alone. More so than most other discussions of Jesus, Salt & Light holds the rare opportunity to more deeply understand the figure, message, and purpose of Jesus, and thus should be considered by libraries interested in biographical, academic, or social histories of Christianity's presence and impact in the world.
It's a very highly recommended and unusual work for its rare ability to appeal fully to both scholarly and lay audience, and is packed with researched and footnoted information, appendixes, and a special brand of analytical inspection designed to address common perceptions and misconceptions of Jesus and his times.
In Salt & Light; The Complete Jesus, Jonathan Geoffrey Dean tried to unravel the mystery surrounding Jesus. He attempted to unveil and learn about the authentic Jesus. He researched and reviewed the works of witnesses who were directly and indirectly connected to Jesus during his time on earth. He also reviewed the accounts of the disciples who had written down what they saw or heard about Jesus. He checked the authenticity of the dates Jesus' activities occurred in order to confirm if he was the Messiah or Christ as was believed by many. In this book, he shared many intriguing discoveries he made, which would keep the reader glued till the very end. Read to gain more insight into the life, times, and death of Jesus Christ.
Salt & Light; The Complete Jesus was a fascinating read, and I loved that Jonathan Geoffrey Dean backed up his claims with factual notes and texts from witnesses, especially John and Peter-Mark. Peter-Mark is a combination of Peter and Mark's works. He also used pictures that further explained the time and age in which Jesus lived. I loved the fact that Jonathan Geoffrey Dean duly examined everything relating to Jesus and only picked out the salient and authentic ones for this book. Another point to note is that he did not condemn or suggest condemnation of any religious group while promoting his Christian beliefs. I loved that, to a large extent, the author achieved his goal of demystifying mysteries about Jesus Christ in this book.
Some parts of the book were a little too complex, and I expected that the author would have done a better job breaking down those parts to the level average readers could understand. Furthermore, some quotes inserted randomly in the book by the author, though useful, seemed a bit confusing. Also, some chapters in the book were unnecessary because they were too brief; they could have just been included as parts of other chapters that had more profound content.
I will give this book a perfect rating of 4 out of 4 stars. My reasons are that it was exceptionally well edited, and the author presented his message in an organized manner. The few negative issues I listed in the previous paragraph removed nothing from the beauty of this book.
I recommend Jonathan Geoffrey Dean's Salt & Light; The Complete Jesus to lovers and practitioners of religion, especially the Christian religion. It is eye-opening and informative about the life and time of Christ on earth.
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