The recent run of books relating to Jesus and his time on earth continues with this 300-plus page book by a professor who has dedicated his working life to all things biblical and archaeological. Dr James D Tabor is the chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. Using his own discoveries, and DNA testing of remains from biblical times, he claims to bring us closer than we've ever been to the historical Jesus.

Like the recently published 'The Jesus Family Tomb' by Simcha Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino, he details various skeletal finds around the city of Jerusalem and beyond to paint a vivid picture of who Jesus was, where he came from and where he and his immediate family ended up.

Tabor suggests that rather than setting himself up as the chosen messiah, Jesus was motivated by the need to establish himself and his family as the rightful rulers of Israel and lead the Jewish people to political, social and spiritual redemption.

He explores why Jesus' family (which was larger than the average person would think) does not get the full exposure in the Bible and general religious writings as one would expect. The role of John the Baptist is also debated. A lot of what he says may be uncomfortable reading for those with a conventional view of Jesus and Christianity.

Tabor bases his findings on discoveries made by himself and others in the Holy Land - but one could argue that an ordinary member of the public given the chance to explore, find and analyse similar artefacts and readings, might come to a different opinion.

Mark Cummins

Buy 'The Jesus Dynasty' from the RTÉ eShop here.