Jesus in the temple (Greco) – public domain image
As we approach Easter, it is worth reminding everyone why Jesus was killed: because of his opposition to animal sacrifice.
This opposition led him to go into the temple and disrupt the animal sacrifice business. Shortly thereafter he was crucified by the Romans, doubtless because of his actions in the temple. Christians often remember the incident in the temple as “Jesus drives out the dishonest money changers,” but it is clear from both the gospels as well as the history of Christianity that the money changers had little to do with it. It is one of the few incidents in Jesus’ life that is found in all four gospels (Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46, John 2:13-17). Continue reading →
Norm Phelps, noted animal activist and author, has written the following review of Disciples, which is posted on the Amazon web site, and which can be ordered here.
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Keith Akers’ earlier book on the origins of Christianity, The Lost Religion of Jesus: Simple Living and Nonviolence in Early Christianity (Lantern Books, 2000) was a pioneering work of original scholarship that opened up new vistas in two fields: the ongoing search for the historical Jesus and the history of vegetarianism. Continue reading →
Judy Carman, author of Peace to All Beings, has written a review of Disciples which appeared in the summer 2014 issue of American Vegan, the publication of The American Vegan Society. Here’s what she has to say. Continue reading →
UPDATE January 31, 2015: here is the direct link to the recording of this podcast.
I will be interviewed by Victoria Moran of “Main Street Vegan” on Wednesday, June 18, at 1 pm Mountain Daylight time (that’s noon Pacific, 2 pm Central, and 3 pm Eastern). Most people listen to the podcast rather than the live show, but for those who listen in, we will be giving away a free copy of either Disciples or The Lost Religion of Jesus. Call in with questions: 888-558-6489 (U.S.); 816-347-5519 (outside the U.S). After the show the episode will be posted on the “Main Street Vegan” web site. To listen to the podcast while it’s in progress, go to http://www.unity.fm/popout-player.
Stephen Kaufman wrote the following review of Disciples. It appeared in the May 15 issue of the e-newsletter of the Christian Vegetarian Association.
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Nearly all Christians accept without question the assertion that Christianity started with Jesus. In this remarkable book, Keith Akers argues convincingly that the movement now called Christianity preceded Jesus’ ministry. It regarded Jesus as an exemplary leader, but evidently it did not consider Jesus divine.
Akers focuses on the Jewish Christian movement – those Jews who followed Jesus during his life and honored him after his death. Though they were the ones who knew Jesus best, their understanding of his teachings was eventually deemed heretical by a Gentile church that was heavily influenced by Paul. Continue reading →
The following review of Disciples appeared in Lee Harmon’s blog “The Dubious Disciple”:
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Wow. I wish I had written this book. Speculative but convincingly argued, it strikes a perfect balance between reason and wonder, as it traces the evolution and demise of Jewish Christianity.
I have both curiosity and sympathy for the Ebionites, that early Jewish Christian sect which probably stemmed from the first Christians in Jerusalem, headed by Jesus’ brother James. Their disagreements with Paul, their emphasis on simplicity, and their primitive Christology have always intrigued me. Continue reading →
Pat Moauro, the editor of The Metaphysical Express (London, Ontario, Canada), has written a review of Disciples, which is posted below. Pat encourages anyone who wants a copy of this journal to e-mail him at patmor123 (at) gmail (dot) com.
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After reading Keith Akers’ newest book, Disciples, I must admit I found some of his information about the origins of Christianity startling and surprising. Although I left traditional Christianity many years ago in favour of metaphysical and New Thought Christianity, I was still somewhat taken aback while reading this book and its conclusions about Jesus Christ, the organization and church built around his name, and the way Christianity has splintered and shattered into hundreds of competing sects and groups, each claiming to be the “True” church founded by Jesus. Continue reading →
Here’s another review of Disciples:
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Keith Akers’ latest effort, Disciples: How Jewish Christianity shaped Jesus and Shattered the Church, is a ground-breaking examination of a largely misunderstood period in Christian history. Akers’ illumination of primary sources throws into question many long-held beliefs of the trajectory of early Christianity. His systematic review of the surviving evidence gradually builds a formidable and convincing framework for an understanding of the early faith. If you are interested in pre-Nicene Christianity, this is a must-read.
— Brian Wagner, doctoral candidate, New Testament and Early Christian Studies, University of South Africa.
Frank and Mary Hoffman, who administer the All-Creatures.org website, one of the top Christian vegetarian websites in English, recently reviewed Disciples. Here’s what they said:
Disciples by Keith Akers is a very interesting and well researched book. The main focus of Disciples is to take an in-depth look at “Jewish Christianity” as it has commonly been called, which Akers contends may go back 1000 years or more before Jesus, which to us refers to a messianic movement. Continue reading →
Jesus and Nicodemus (H. O. Tanner)
Recently, in response to a friend’s blurb promoting Disciples on Facebook, someone asked whether the author of the book (namely, me) was promoting vegetarian “propaganda.”
I have heard this same basic objection before, expressed in other ways. Readers feel that describing Jesus or early Christianity as vegetarian is strange. A reviewer of my previous book The Lost Religion of Jesus politely said, “There is, for my taste, an overemphasis on vegetarianism as one of the differences between the Jewish Christian groups and the Gentile Christian church.” Another reviewer, less politely, described The Lost Religion of Jesus as “an apologetic book for vegetarianism with a religious ‘seal of approval’ applied”; still another said that it was “a poorly supported argument for becoming a vegetarian.” Continue reading →
The following is a review of Disciples by Drew Hensley, posted on Amazon’s web site.
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The author let me see an early manuscript of this book. This work goes well beyond The Lost Religion of Jesus in making the case that Jesus was an ethical vegetarian who sought to bring down the sacrificial system of which the Temple was the epicenter. This new book is filled with graphs and charts and laid out in a way that is remarkably easy to follow and enables the reader to hold the lines of evidence together mentally. Continue reading →
The following is excerpted from a review of Disciples by Steve Bastasch at Rennyo01’s blog.
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A GREAT NEW BOOK
Keith Akers takes us back to the origins of Christianity in a new way. Disciples delineates in an unprecedented manner the history of the Ebionites – “the Poor” – Jesus’ first Jewish disciples.
The Ebionites represent a religious movement that had its origins in ancient Judaism, a movement that was opposed to animal sacrifice and the temple, and which supported vegetarianism, simple living, compassion, and the cultivation of spiritual wisdom (“knowledge”). This is not some oddball New Age notion. It’s expressed in the Hebrew Bible and by some of the Prophets. Continue reading →
My new book, Disciples: How Jewish Christianity Shaped Jesus and Shattered the Church (Apocryphile Press, 2013) has now been published. You can order it on Amazon here. (I will not be selling it through my website.)
A book about the disciples of Jesus would typically start with Jesus himself: first there was Jesus, then he had disciples. Disciples suggests a fundamentally different story: first there was a movement, then Jesus emerged as its leader. This movement was markedly different from both rabbinic Judaism and gentile Christianity. It became known to history as “Jewish Christianity”— Jews who followed both Jesus (as they understood him) and the Jewish law (as they understood it).
These first disciples affirmed simple living, nonviolence, and vegetarianism, and rejected wealth, war, and animal sacrifices. Some two decades after Jesus was crucified, they split with their most famous missionary, Paul, over the issues of vegetarianism and eating meat from animal sacrifices. These events become clear through examination of the letters of Paul and the Jewish Christian literature: the Recognitions, the Homilies, and testimony about Jewish Christianity in the early church fathers. The history of Jewish Christianity takes our understanding of Christian origins into a completely new realm. Continue reading →