AD 33: The Year that Changed the World, By Colin Duriez

AD 33

The Year that Changed the World

by Colin Duriez

AD 33
  • Length: 256 pages
  • Published: January 22, 2007
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3396
  • ISBN: 9780830833962

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How did Jesus shape history? In A.D. 33 an obscure religious teacher died a criminal's death in a distant outpost of the Roman Empire. Yet this was an event with world-changing consequences. What was the world like in that momentous year? Colin Duriez's compelling book brings to life events in the Roman Empire and beyond.

As we look back on that remarkable year, we can see from the perspective of world history that it was dominated by two people--a Roman and a Jew. The Roman was the Emperor Tiberius who was trying to end the mischief caused by his deputy Sejanus, while also keeping a tight reign on the administration of his vast and diverse empire.

The Jew was Jesus who was put to death by one of Tiberius's minor governors, Pontius Pilate. Belief in his resurrection from the dead three days later invigorated his demoralized followers, leading within a few weeks to the birth of the Christian movement, which was ultimately to take over the mighty empire without force and to change the world irrevocably. While momentous events unfolded in the lives of these two leaders, one temporal and one spiritual, millions of people carried on their daily routines, rising at dawn and going to their rest in the evening.

What is the history that lies behind the Gospel texts? Supplemented by maps, charts and timelines, this richly detailed book reveals what the world that saw the inauguration of Christianity was like. In this breathtaking book we follow the events in the Roman Empire and beyond to obtain a vivid picture of the year of Jesus' death.

"Colin Duriez is best known for his studies in the life and work of Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. Here he ventures further back in time, offering a compelling case for dating the crucifixion of Jesus to Friday 13 April, AD 33. Much of the book is spent setting the death of Jesus in its historical contexts, Jewish and Roman. Where firm evidence is missing, Duriez suggests plausible scenarios."

Church Times

"Author Colin Duriez's compelling and wide-ranging work examines the huge Roman Empire which encompassed the Mediterranean region and much of north-western Europe. . . . There is a universal curiousity about the history that lies behind the Gospel texts and the book reveals what the year that saw the inauguration of Christianity as a world religion was actually like."

Belfast News Letter Group

"Colin Duriez's 'AD 33' offers readers a fascinating and creative view of the most important year in human history. This book takes readers back in time, back to the world of Jesus, back to the culture of Jews and Romans and to the events that changed everything. Scholars and students will learn much from this informed and very readable book. I recommend it enthusiastically."

Craig A. Evans, Ph.D., Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College and author of Fabricating Jesus

The book makes an interesting read and may be helpful for someone who wants to put the crucifixion in historical context., January 2, 2008

. . . This book is an informative and educational read.

Chisendom blog,, September 24, 2007

What a delightful read! I know of no book that attempts to cover the world in that year. There is new information for every church member.

Church Libraries, Summer 2007

An excellent piece of writing.

The Lamplighter, August 2007

With the inclusion of maps, plans, and a section on chronology for 44 B.C. to A.D. 70, the book holds value as a resource for all Christians. Those skeptical of Christianity can learn how much history there is with Jesus in it. AD 33 is a good mixture of story and facts and an enjoyable reading.

Libraries Alive, Fall 2007

In this fascinating book, Duriez lets us follow events in the Roman Empire and beyond to obtain a vivid picture of the year of Jesus? death.

The Anglican Digest, Advent AD 2007

First-century Palestine comes to life as well as Roman empire history, culture and interactions in a wide-ranging survey which links Biblical passages and history with a reconstruction of the times.

California Bookwatch, June 2007

The amount of research and knowledge contributing to AD 33 is impressive. Duriez draws regularly and openly from the Gospels, from Jewish historian Josephus, and from Roman sources such as Seutonius. . . This is not a light book . . . It is, however, full of facts and details, and is written in a compelling way.

Linette E. Yoder, Christian Book, May 5, 2007

If you'd like a refresher course on how the Church began, what it was then, and what it still can be, pick up AD 33.

Mark Earley, President, Prison Fellowship,


Maps and Plans
Prologue: Two Kings, Two Kingdoms

1. Papyri and Puzzles

2. Tiberius and the Eastern Empire

3. The Road of Courage: Jesus of Nazareth, Early Spring A.D. 33

4. Tiberius and the Shadow of Sejanus

5. Darkness at Noon (March 28-April 3)
6. The Glory of the Temple
7. Fifty Days: Prelude to Changing the World (April 5-May 23)

8. The Western Empire
9. Past the Boundaries of Empire
10. Beyond the Ends of the Earth

11. Simon Peter: The Birth of the Church (Pentecost, May 24)

12. Agrippina (Sunday, October 18)

13. New Conflict in Jerusalem: Stephen and Saul

14. What Happened Next?

Dating A.D. 33
Chronology of the Period (44 B.C. to A.D. 70)
Chronology of A.D. 33

Colin Duriez

Colin Duriez has taught, written and spoken worldwide on C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and the Inklings for nearly thirty years. In addition to winning the Clyde S. Kilby Award in 1994 for his research, he has also appeared as a commentator on the extended-version film DVDs of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (Peter Jackson, director), PBS's The Question of God, which compared C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud, and the Sony DVD Ringers about Tolkien fandom and the impact of Tolkien on popular culture. Duriez studied at the University of Istanbul, the University of Ulster (where he was a founding member of the Irish Christian Study Centre), and under Francis Schaeffer at L'Abri in Huemoz, Switzerland. His best-known books include The C. S. Lewis Encyclopedia, The Inklings Handbook (with the late David Porter), J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship, Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, and A Field Guide to Narnia. Duriez also compiled The Poetic Bible, an anthology of English verse from over one thousand years based on the biblical text.