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Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography [Paperback]

By Bruce Chilton (Author)
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Item description for Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography by Bruce Chilton...

A biblical scholar offers a close-up look at the religious and cultural forces that shaped the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, drawing on recent archaeological discoveries to furnish a vivid account of the political forces, social customs, and religious beliefs and practices of the period and analyzing ancient texts to examine Jesus's early life. Reprint.

Publishers Description
Beginning with the Gospels, interpretations of the life of Jesus have flourished for nearly two millennia, yet a clear and coherent picture of Jesus as a man has remained elusive. In" Rabbi Jesus," the noted biblical scholar Bruce Chilton places Jesus within the context of his times to present a fresh, historically accurate, and revolutionary examination of the man who founded Christianity.
Drawing on recent archaeological findings and new translations and interpretations of ancient texts, Chilton discusses in enlightening detail the philosophical and psychological foundations of Jesus' ideas and beliefs. His in-depth investigation also provides evidence that contradicts long-held beliefs about Jesus and the movement he led. Chilton shows, for example, that the High Priest Caiaphas, as well as Pontius Pilate, played a central role in Jesus' execution. It is, however, Chilton's description of Jesus' role as a rabbi, or "master," of Jewish oral traditions, as a teacher of the Cabala, and as a practitioner of a Galilean form of Judaism that emphasized direct communication with God that casts an entirely new light on the origins of Christianity.
Seamlessly merging history and biography, this penetrating, highly readable book uncovers truths lost to the passage of time and reveals a new Jesus for the new millennium.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography by Bruce Chilton has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 106
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 80

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Image
Pages   352
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 26, 2002
Publisher   Image
ISBN  0385497938  
ISBN13  9780385497930  

Availability  0 units.

More About Bruce Chilton

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Bruce Chilton is a leading scholar of early Christianity and Judaism and is currently Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard where he also directs the Institute of Advanced Theology. He has taught in Europe at the Universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, and Munster, and in the United States at Yale University (as the first Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament).


Bruce Chilton has an academic affiliation as follows - Bard College, New York Bard College, USA Bard College, USA Bard Colleg.

Bruce Chilton has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Christianity and Judaism, the Formative Categories
  2. Studying the Historical Jesus

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Biographies > Biography
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > New Testament Studies > Jesus Studies

Reviews - What do customers think about Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography?

Know what you're getting into  May 18, 2008

I liked reading this book. It was engaging, introduced new views and took risks. However, you need to know what you are getting into. As many reviewers have pointed out (positively and negatively) the author is writing a biography, with limited references.

I have read a number of historical studies of Jesus. Though I am amateur, not a scholar, I can see behind-the-scenes of the scholarship and on which side the author falls. Like anything else, I agree with some, disagree with others, and others I'll set aside as interesting and withhold conclusion. My point, though, is that without that background a reader either has to be ready for a historical fiction read or be dissappointed. This book does not review the various points of view and present argument and evidence leading to conclusions. The notes somewhat make up for this. However, they generally point toward other works.

The author does speak several languages and is familiar with the scholarship, so the reader will get a lot of tidbits here and there. As other reviewers mention, Chilton uses a bit or writer's license with things like character's perspective (such as the Ciasphas quote above) and even in Jesus' appearance. Other bits of information are engaging and enlightening. Among these are Jesus' leaving his family during his family's visit to the temple at age 12, his discipleship under John the Baptist, his travel in the Decapolis, a different timeline for passion "week", a different understanding of the eucharist (to name a few). In these things - as well as in describing the historical context of Galilee, Judea, the Roman rule, temple sacrifice - the author shines. His translations are also a treasure in this book.

The other trouble with the work, though - and the reason a more scholarly tome may be preferred - is that Jesus in inevitably multi-faceted. Chilton's focus on Jesus' status as an outcast illegitimate child and on his estatic experiences is engaging, but leaves aside other perspectives. The dissappointment here is that the jacket of the book and editorial push the "placing Jesus in Jewist context" concept, which would be better served on a more scholarly tome.

Some people deride the author's use of sources, including non-canon works and later Jewish writings. He addresses some of this in the end notes. This rubs some people the wrong way. I find them interesting, and am willing to grant him thier use. He also relies more heavily on John than some other works (again, covers this briefly in an endnote).

All in all, for people who are prepared for a biography style read with limited notes or for people who just enjoy reading this stuff and are willing to grant the author some license, this book is an enjoyable read. For others, it may still be a good read, depending on your purpose.

The most challenging biography of Jesus I've seen  Apr 1, 2008
Chilton possibly outdoes the whole host of Jesus Seminar scholars in his quest to uncover the real Jesus. His account is learned, sensitive, and viscerally dramatic. The tension and exitement are palpable, and the questions are arresting. For example: "What Jew would tell another to drink blood, even symbolic blood?" The Torah, Chilton notes, forbids it in several places such as Genesis 9:4. The Mishnah records an ancient Jewish abhorrence at the very thought, stating that the most heinous desecration of sacrificial ritual possible for a priest was, "if he slaughters in order to eat from its flesh and drink from its blood". (p. 252)

At Chilton's hands a whole set of challenging alternatives arise as to what Jesus meant. This is the most thought provoking biography of Jesus I've seen.
A Very Plausible Narrative  Feb 28, 2008
If you've ever wanted the straight poop about Jesus, this is probably as close as you'll ever be able to come. Before reading this book, you'll find it helpful to familiarize yourself with Ezekiel's Chariot Vision (Merkabah) and Zechariah's visions because, according to the author, these visions were at the core of Jesus' beliefs and motives.

It seemed to me that the closing chapter was a rather flimsy attempt at apologetics. Otherwise I found the book immensely intriguing and informative.

Gene L Warner, author of ...
Solutions for Secretaries of Small NPO's
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Be selective in what you believe  Jan 18, 2008
I read about the author from the back cover and decided to give it a read as I have developed a recent interest in the Jewish Jesus. What I find is conjecture and information taken out of context in an attempt to prove his theories. The basis for my Christianity is that God sent His son through a virgin. This had to be done because Mary was a virgin, in a sense sinless, and the mother passes the blood. Joseph would have passed tainted blood to Jesus. To do otherwise defeats the entire purpose of sending Jesus. The second point that destroys my interest in this writing is that the author claims that Jesus went to John the Baptist and became his Talmid. John was 6 months older than Jesus as demonstrated by Mary coming to Elizabeth. I have trouble believing Chilton believes in the God of the Bible. I am being selective as I read it and looking for leads to historical information that can be proven.
Rabbi Jesus  Dec 17, 2007
This book is rich in its detail of the cultural and historical background of the times Jesus lived in. We who call ourseves, "christians", would benifit greatly from understanding the Jewish traditions that influenced him and the prophets from that culture that had a major role in his life. We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Bruce Chilton for educating us about this man in whose name so much is said and done.

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