The Word and the Sword by Theo Lang (New English Library £1).
Over the years there have been many attempts by modern novelists and dramatists to capture the spirit of the worldtransforming events which occurred in Judaea at the turn of the millennium. With the benefit of' hindsight their imaginations are sucked into the vacuum left by the professional ancient historian.
In the Word and the Sword Theo Lang focuses on the events surrounding Christ's Crucifixion. We %it:v.' Jerusalem through the eyes of Poia ill% Pilate, an outsider un illing.1) drawn into the centre of Jevyish religious wrangling.
He is portrayed as an efficient if slightly uninspired administrator, hounded by an ironic anxiety to secure his place in history.
As someone neither won over by the nos teaching nor overtly hostile tow.trds it. he sees Calvary as yet another example of the searing prejudices of the Jews a nation which was always an impenetrable enigma to the Romans.
Mr Lung's historical perspective is faultless. Ile avoids any pious sentimentality and instead spins a gripping talc of slaves, Caesars, high priests and Zealots, fraught with all the brutality and intrigue of Judaea under the Ron-Ian yoke.