Item description for In Search of Paul: How Jesus's Apostle Opposed Rome's Empire with God's Kingdom by John Dominic Crossan & Jonathan L. Reed...
Overview Presents archaeological evidence and historical analysis to answer questions about Paul and the early Christians, contending that Paul worked for justice and equality against the oppressive power of the Roman Empire.
John Dominic Crossan, the eminent historical Jesus scholar, and Jonathan L. Reed, an expert in biblical archaeology, reveal through archaeology and textual scholarship that Paul, like Jesus, focused on championing the Kingdom of God--a realm of justice and equality--against the dominant, worldly powers of the Roman empire.
Many theories exist about who Paul was, what he believed, and what role he played in the origins of Christianity. Using archaeological and textual evidence, and taking advantage of recent major discoveries in Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Syria, Crossan and Reed show that Paul was a fallible but dedicated successor to Jesus, carrying on Jesus's mission of inaugurating the Kingdom of God on earth in opposition to the reign of Rome. Against the concrete backdrop of first-century Grego-Roman and Jewish life, In Search of Paul reveals the work of Paul as never before, showing how and why the liberating messages and practices of equality, caring for the poor, and a just society under God's rules, not Rome's, were so appealing.
Readers interested in Paul as a historical figure and his place in the development of Christianity
-Readers interested in archaeology and anthropology
Citations And Professional Reviews In Search of Paul: How Jesus's Apostle Opposed Rome's Empire with God's Kingdom by John Dominic Crossan & Jonathan L. Reed has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Ingram Advance - 11/01/2005 page 109
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.06" Width: 5.98" Height: 0.94" Weight: 1.4 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 2005
Publisher Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN 0060816163 ISBN13 9780060816162
Availability 0 units.
More About John Dominic Crossan & Jonathan L. Reed
John Dominic Crossan is the author of The Historical Jesus (T&T Clark, 1991). He chairs the Historical Jesus section of the Society of Biblical Literature. Luke Timothy Johnson is Woodruff Professor of New Testament at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. The author of a number of best-selling books, he is also editor of the Anchor Study Bible. Werner H. Kelber is Turner Professor of Biblical Studies at Rice University.
John Dominic Crossan currently resides in Clermont, in the state of Florida.
John Dominic Crossan has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about In Search of Paul: How Jesus' Apostle Opposed Rome's Empire with God's Kingdom?
Paul vs Rome Feb 10, 2007
I was a little pleased to see that John Dominic Crossan (the main author, I'd say) turns out to be something of a fan of Paul. I had been prejudiced, I suppose, to expect something of a desacralising of the apostle and perhaps some questioning of his state of mind, such as I'd read in books by Burton Mack and, perhaps, Jerome Murphy O'Connor. However, though Crossan sees Paul as a vulnerable human being like the rest of us, he presents him as a genius of politico-sociological analysis (sorry about the jargon) on the one hand and as a theologian with a very clear, very challenging understanding of Christ's purpose as saviour of the world and messenger of peace through justice.
Like an earlier reviewer, I too began skipping the detailed bits about archaeological finds and the material culture of the Roman Empire, though I stayed with any discussion of what these revealed about social stratification, the production and distribution of social influence, and the living arrangements of people in the "insula" (suburbs and blocks of dwellings) and residences of people at the time, because I thought that would tell me something about the structure and practices of the early "house churches" - Paul's audiences. Which it did.
I think the book is very helpful at revealing the political, social and physical context in which Paul worked. It also has a powerful political and theological message that the authors believe is crucial for America in her attempts to impose and defend Pax Americana throughout the world.
Crossan proposes that Paul understood the death and resurrection of Jesus as significant because Jesus was executed violently by imperialist forces. This was seen as necessary to defend the Pax Romana in Judea. Jesus' resurrection, therefore, in Paul's view was an act of triumph over violence and over the imperial belief that peace can be achieved through victory and conquest. It wouldn't have had the same significance had Jesus died peacefully at home and then rose from the dead. Paul confronted the Empire with a model based on faith (surrender to God's will), justice (carrying out God's laws) and equality (within the Christian community at least). This model opposed the Augustan one of piety (cultic devotional practices), victory (violence), consolidation and peace. The latter may be interchanged in sequence, but they rest on continued actual or threatened violence, foundation of the cult of the Emperor as divine and the establishment of patronage and hierarchy - also interchageable - where the pecking order and the privileges attending it were based on access to powerful patrons. There was not much place for women, slaves or minorities in this hierarchy until they had broken through the hierarchical barriers (ceilings?) by one means or another, but Paul's vision of the Christian community itself was egalitarian ("neither male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor Greek", etc). (The Pauline texts cited in favour of sexism and the like are insertions or from the pseudo-Pauline letters written after his death.)
Something the Publishers' Weekly review seems to have not picked up, but which is a critical component of Crossan's thesis is that Paul was not in fact preaching primarily to the Jews, or to the gentiles. Rather he was trying to capture the constituency knows as "God-fearers" or "believers". They were the pagans attached to synagogues, converted to the monotheism and laws and ethics of the Jews in their towns, but the males were not circumcised, they may not have observed kosher and they probably joined in with other citizens in performance of the sacrifices that were built into much civic ritual. They were sometimes relatively wealthy and perhaps able to provide a degree of protection to the Jewish community. Paul saw them as potential and valuable converts and addressed them as such. As you could imagine, this aroused much hostility to the apostle from the Jews in the cities he targeted.
This review has gone on too long - perhaps an indication of how helpful the book might be. I found it worthwhile and reasonably easy to read. Crossan's message to America is Paul's, that peace through victory does not liberate. It doesn't work, at least in the long term. That philosophy brought us the Pax Romana for a while, but, after centuries of war and destruction, it culminated in 19th century imperialism, 20th century totalitarianism and 21st century terrorism.
Disappointing -- but with some good insights Jan 9, 2007
I've read three or more books by Crossan. They always look fascinating and they always disappoint. The man (and his co-author, an archaelogist) can simply not stay on the subject he promises to tell us about. His book on Jesus hardly mentions Jesus until after page 200. Is this book, Paul is sort of a straw man set up so that Crossan can give us a travelogue to various places he visited around the Mediterranean. There's far too much here about ancient ruins and far too little about early Christianity and Paul's role. The question is asked on the bookjacket: did Paul invent Christianity? I never found the answer in this book.
There are, however, some interesting speculations in this book and, on occasion, a startling insight. For example, Crossan speculates that Judiasm, rather than Christianity, might have become the official religion of the Roman Empire had events transpired a bit differently. And he talks about the "God-worshippers" who occupied a sort of halfway house between paganism and Judaism -- and were Paul's targets for evangelism.
So, like Crossan's other books this is worth leafing through to look for the good parts and skipping the dross. If you read the book expecting a biography of Paul, you'll be disappointed. You will learn more about the Roman empire and its architecture, and you will find pearls of wisdom about Paul hidden about.
Mediocre attempt that really is not in search of "Paul" Aug 31, 2006
Crossan and Reed here make a really poor attempt to do several things, provide a historical, sociological, anthropological, and religious context to the world of the historical Paul, while at the same time present a modern travelogue and archaelogical primer of Paul's world. But at the same time, they attempt an exegesis of Paul's writings, give themselves literary license to rewrite scripture, and try to downplay or even declare wrong whole portions of the New Testament. They obviously started the book with a clear agenda to challenge and find illegitimate non "politically correct" portions of the New Testament and so the title is completely misleading. While obviously everyone is entitled to their own views on scripture, this attempt at religious revisionism is absurd, especially when these authors pretend to do it under the guise of scholarship.
Paul vs. the Roman Empire Jul 21, 2006
In Search of Paul is actually a misleading title for this book. The more accurate one is the subtitle: How Jesus's Appostle Opposed Rome's Empire with God's Kingdom.
A huge part of this book discusses the sociology and anthropology of the Roman Empire as discovered from archeological digs and ancient manuscripts. Crossan argues that it is only against this backdrop that we can truly understand Paul's teachings and the challenges that he faced. This is fascinating reading and well worth reading for those interested in New Testament study, but it is not truly a search for Paul. I say this as a warning because the book was not what I expected, although I was pleased with what I found.
For any Year 2 EFM (Education for Ministry) students, this is good source material.
I found the editing to be rather poor. Much of the writing seemed to have misplaced punctuation, which made it difficult to follow in places. I found this disappointing in an otherwise scholarly work.
Fantastic Reed Jan 25, 2006
Very interesting and unique approach to Paul. Reed leaves no stone unturned in his quest to get to the real historical Paul. A real page turner for anyone with even a passing interest in Paul. A plus plus!