At Haaretz, David B. Green interviews Scott Korb, author of the forthcoming Life in Year One: What the World Was Like in First-Century Palestine:

Q: You’re thoroughly and absolutely a writer of this era, in the sense that you’re self-conscious and self-referential. And yet the whole purpose is to look at a completely different period. How did you go about writing this book?

A As a writer of history, especially about history whose telling is so contentious, and the meaning of which is so important to so many people, I believe that the only way for me to be fair to my readers and to myself is to let the reader know at every moment, exactly what I’m doing. I know that sometimes that will get read as a kind of wink, wink, nudge, nudge: Look at what I’m doing. With a kind of playfulness. And I hope they enjoy that playfulness. But I also hope that readers see those references to what I’m doing as I’m telling history, I hope they see this as evidence of an actual struggle that a writer faces: To do things as fairly and honestly as possible.

The problem with writing about this time is that people want Jesus in
particular to be a particular kind of Jesus. And my challenge was to try to avoid making a claim on who I want Jesus to be. In a book whose introduction is called “This Is Not a Book about Jesus,” I have to admit that the challenge of writing a book about the first century without really laying a claim to who I want Jesus to be, that’s a difficult challenge. I hope I can succeed, but hope also that if I fail, I fail with my integrity intact, as I quote Flannery O’Connor as saying, in “Wise Blood.”

Weirdly, I think it’s a book that’s as much about writing history as it is about the history that gets written.

Continue reading at Haaretz. Also, see more from Korb in a recent edition of “off the cuff” here at The Immanent Frame.