Item description for Jesus and First-Century Christianity in Jerusalem by Elizabeth McNamer & Bargil Pixner...
Overview This book, beautifully illustrated with maps and photos, traces the little-known story of the original Jewish Christian community and presents intriguing evidence connecting Jesus and his family with the Essenes. Focusing on the first century (33-135 C.E.) in Jerusalem after the death of Jesus, its thesis is that the Jerusalem community remained true to their Jewish heritage and had a connection with the Essenes. The first bishop of Jerusalem was James, the brother of Jesus. He was the author of the letter of James. He was murdered in the year 62. An Essene priest, Thabuti expected to replace James but was not elected, and this led to the first schism in the church. James was followed by Simon, the cousin of Jesus, who was bishop until 104. At that time, descendants of the house of David were persecuted by the Romans. There were 13 bishops between then and 135. Christianity was a sect within Judaism. After the Bar Kohaba rebellion a gentile bishop was appointed. The Jewish church was inundated by gentiles and eventually integrated into the Byzantine church. The purpose of the book is to bring to light our Jewish connections, and, as the state of Israel is being threatened, an appreciation of our Jewish heritage. Uniqueness: * The only book available that attempts to reconcile Christianity with our Jewish heritage
Publishers Description Explores how the Church functioned in Jerusalem in the first one hundred years.
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I see dead Essenes Aug 10, 2008
I recently read Jesus and First-Century Christianity in Jerusalem by Elizabeth Mcnamer and Bargil Pixner that was sent to me for review by Paulist Press. The book starts with an overview of the Essenes and then the Nazoreans and then goes on to give a historical overview that includes Jesus' public years and then concentrates mainly on the Church in Jerusalem up to the year 135. The overview of Jesus and subsequent resurrection is mainly straight-forward account as is the subsequent years of the Church in Jerusalem. The book uses as source materials text such a the Protoevangelium of James and historians of the era such as Jophesus and later Eusebius along with others of that time period along of course with the Gospels. So there is a lot of good information about the early Church specifically in regards to the Christians in Jerusalem.
I was glad to see the retelling of Jesus' public years was surprisingly free of sneering skepticism and it kept to the facts as told in the Gospels, though there were some exceptions. Such as "Jesus may have had a life changing experience as he went to the Jordan near Jericho as he was baptized by John the Baptist." This sentence made me laugh and sounds like the kind of stuff taught by those who say Jesus was ignorant they were God and many of the authors of some of the references do hold to such a view. Later on we get a sentence questioning whether if some of the early presiders were women and then a confusion on the role of women deaconesses. But this type of stuff was mostly the exception.
Also included was the standard fare about the Q document the mythical lost document used by Matthew and Luke. Along with some rather late datings of the Gospels with for example Luke being dated at 85 A.D with the phase "scholars say." "Scholars say" is used quite a lot in this book with no mention that this is by no means unanimous. It really means "scholars who I am inclined to believe say." In fact whenever I see this phrase it is a cue for me to dig deeper. So much of historical-criticism denies miracles and prophesies and so they are forced to argue for a much later dating after the year 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed. That the prophesy of this destruction proves that it had to be after the event. Though I think this "later Gospel" phase is receding and much better scholarship is being done now that puts them at a much earlier period of time. Michael Barber in his excellent book book Coming Soon: Unlocking the Book of Revelation and Applying Its Lessons Today argues, I believe, persuasively for a dating of the Book of Revelation pre-70 A.D. While this book dates the Gospel of John as being done between 90 and 110. A.D. Well scholars say!
The biggest weakness of this book is that it sees Essenes everywhere. "I see dead Essenes" could have been the tagline of the book. While some of the conjecture was quite interesting and some of it might actually be true. There was just a bias to always interpret something to mean that it was influenced from the Essenes somehow. Often we get this with John the Baptist, but in this case it extended to the family of Mary. Even the date of the Last Supper was suppose to be Essene influenced which this books happened on Wednesday or on Tuesday night. That the man carrying a jug of water that Jesus sent his disciples to find must have been a Essene priest since only women carried water. Or Acts 6:7 about a great number of priests converting to the faith must have been Essene priests since it was doubtful that Saducees would do so. This totally leaves out the fact that there were about 2000 ordinary Temple priests in Jerusalem. Everything is seen through Essene colored glasses with no caveats. No doubt this is because one of the authors who is an ex Benedictine Monk has worked as an archaeologist in the Essene quarter. There are certain some interesting correlations between the Essenes writings and some of what happened, but because of the bias it is hard to tell objectively what role they played which in this book is to a large extent.
This is a larger sized book with plenty of beautiful pictures included relating to Jerusalem. Often though the pictures seemed to be included just to have pictures and didn't really relate to the text on the page they were on. The book piqued my interest into the early Church in Jerusalem, unfortunately it makes me have to look elsewhere to fulfill it.
The origins of Christianity is a compelling subject of interest for every new generation of scholars and believers. Aug 10, 2008
The origins of Christianity is a compelling subject of interest for every new generation of scholars and believers. Advances in archaeology has made tremendous and on-going contributions to our understanding of how the Christian movement has evolved over its first few decades and centuries of existence. "Jesus and First Century Christianity in Jerusalem" is a close examination of early Christianity. In the beginning, Christianity was considered a fringe sect of Judaism; some even considered it no more than a mad cult. Comprehensive in its coverage, "Jesus and First Century Christianity in Jerusalem" is enthusiastically recommended to anyone curious how one of the most powerful forces in the western world got its start.