Jesus’ preaching was first and foremost about simple living, pacifism, and vegetarianism; he never intended to create a new religion separate from Judaism. Moreover, Jesus’ radical Jewish ethics, rather than a new theology, distinguished him and his followers from other Jews.
It was the earliest followers of Jesus, the Jewish Christians, who understood Jesus better than any of the gentile Christian groups, which are the spiritual ancestors of modern Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches. In this detailed and accessible study, Keith Akers uncovers the history of Jewish Christianity from its origins in the Essenes and John the Baptist, through Jesus, until its disappearance into Islamic mysticism sometime in the seventh or eighth century.
Akers argues that only by really understanding this mysterious and much misunderstood strand of early Christianity can we get to the heart of the radical message of Jesus of Nazareth.
“Other scholars have explored this field and several significant studies have been published, but none of them has the impact this one has. . . . Akers presents nothing less than an entire recasting of Christian origins, as well as a whole new conception of Christianity.”―Walter Wink
“An important, timely book that sets the historic record straight.”―Tom Regan, author of Empty Cages
“In this scholarly historical work, Keith Akers seeks to rediscover the Jesus who said: ‘Nobility is no more than humble service to the Creator and kindness to all creatures.’”―John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America
“Compelling. This book could change forever our understanding of the true religion and teachings of Jesus.”―Lewis Regenstein, author, Replenish the Earth
“The Lost Religion of Jesus is a groundbreaking, timely, and important book. It can help us shift the current dialogue about Christian fundamentalism to the fundamentals of what Jesus really taught. Based on ignored writings by and about the Jewish followers of Jesus, Keith Akers has put together compelling evidence that the core teachings of Jesus―caring, compassion, simple living, and nonviolence against both humans and animals―remained at the core of the early Jewish communities that saw Jesus as he saw himself, as a Jewish prophet. Akers also documents how these Jewish communities were later deemed heretic by the ‘orthodox’ Church, as it built a new religious hierarchy that eventually allied itself with the despotic Roman Emperor Constantine. He challenges us to re-examine the theology that Paul and other gentile Christians superimposed on the original teachings of Jesus, showing how this distortion of Jesus and his message led to the oppression and bloodshed that has historically been committed in the name of Christianity. He also shows the urgent relevance of Jesus’ real teachings to the social and environmental crises of our time.”―Riane Eisler, author, The Chalice and the Blade
“Both deep and beautifully clear, lively and a pleasure to read. [Akers’] presentations and classes have engaged youth and adults, and people of wide and diverse theological persuasions.”―Rev. Ruth Gibson, First Universalist Church, Denver
“Brings to the stage of current biblical discussion a detailed portrait of a little known moment in the early Church that should not be forgotten.”―Wayne Rollins, Adjunct Professor of Scripture, Hartford Seminary